Low GPA - is PhD even an option for me?
Hi there, given that I am new to this forum, so I just want to greet everyone else in the forum at the first place!
I am a fresh graduate with a BA degree from the University of Hong Kong, with Political Science being one of my majors. I am thinking about pursuing postgraduate studies, preferably obtaining a PhD in political science in future, as I dreamed of getting a faculty position. However, I have no idea if it is an option for me as I am not very confident about my current academic background.
Originally I studied Economics and Finance at HKU, but during the freshman year, due to adaptation problem and some family matters, I flunked in my first semester's GPA (1.97/4.00, which is very horrible). I didn't finish my second semester either, as I went to US to visit and take care of my sick grandfather. But I mananged to transfer to the Arts faculty, where my grades on Economics and Finance WON'T be counted towards my completion of the BA degree.
I then continue to study BA for the following 3 years and managed to get an inter-faculty major of political science, where I developed my interest. I ended up with a First Class Honour (in UK system, which is equivalent to summa cum laude in US scale, for about 13% of people getting that in my faculty.) However, my GPA is only 3.3, which I considered to be very low in US standard though the grading in my faculty is kinda harsh and poor, as admitted by the Associate Dean of the faculty during some consultation forums.
During my second year of study, I went to University of Helsinki in Finland to have exchange studies for a semester. I kinda relaxed there so I didn't get impressive grades there (B,B,C in European grading system for 3 subjects). However, my home institution doesn't count neither the courses taken in exchange studies towards GPA calculation nor honour classification so I didn't care about that too much at that stage.
I have been a part time student research assistant for an assistant professor during my second and third year of study. My prime research interest is comparative politics and I am most interested in Communist studies.
Here comes the problem now: I understand in the US, undergraduate GPA matters a lot in graduate school admission. And as for social science subjects like comparative politics, GPA is considered even more important. So I wonder given that my history of bad grades from transferal from business school to the Arts faculty, and grades got during my exchange studies, shall I even consider a direct PhD in US as my option? I asked this because in my home country, people do weigh US PhD highly and it would be more favourable to get a faculty position with a PhD earned in US. I also believe the training I received in US graduate programmes will provide me with a solid knowledge foundation and good teaching experience.
If it is indeed an option, what sorts of options will be available for me at this stage? Will my chance of being admitted to top 40 PhD programmes improve if I manage to get a master degree? Shall I get a taught MA or research-based MPhil before I aim at a PhD? I've heard that people received a 3-year undergraduate degree will be at disadvantage when applying grad schools in the US, is that true? What else should I be doing at this stage? Lastly, how's the opportunities of getting stipends and tuition waive in US currently?
Thanks a lot for your help!!!