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What are my chances of getting into a top Law School or PhD program?

musicboy3musicboy3 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
I have a BS in Microbiology and am finishing an MA in Government and Public Policy in a private school in Puerto Rico. And after much struggling with where I my interests lie, I ended up choosing all aspects involving government, public policy, economics, education and criminology as the path in which I want to steer my life into. So I'm planning on taking the GRE and the LSAT this next semester in order to apply to either a PhD program (haven't decided if Public Policy or Sociology) or to Law school.

Now, this decision I will make later, but for the time being, I am more concerned on whether I am able to get into any top programs with my background. I graduated with a 3.69 GPA from undergrad, and it seems like my masters might be soemwhere around the same. I also have research experience in ecology, participated of many student organizations and am even TA-ing a summer research program from a top university. However, I feel that the fact that I did not go to a US university , or at least a well known university, might really hinder my chances. Nonetheless, I want to try it, since I feel like I have settled too much with my education, and need to step up my game if I am to actually make something of myself.

Any pointers on what my chances might be, based on this little amount of information? I know it is a really difficult thing to answer, but I guess I would like to hear from people who have been in a similar situation, and see how they did.

Replies to: What are my chances of getting into a top Law School or PhD program?

  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN Registered User Posts: 2,349 Senior Member
    I think you would need a strong letter of rec from a well-regarded sociologist. It is true that you don't need a soc degree to get a PhD in sociology, but a top program would want to see someone predicting your success.
    Have you considered a Public Policy PhD program that has an emphasis in science policy?
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 24,128 Senior Member
    Law school is primarily about GPA+LSAT, bcos those are the two key criteria for rankings. All other stuff is just nice-to-have.

  • musicboy3musicboy3 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    I have considered the PhD in Public Policy, and definitely see it as a very practical one. As for the emphasis in science policy part, it doesn't really interest me much, unless it is related to the educational or economic side of it. I have also considered seeing if there are any internships in that area, but would have to get them after I finish my masters.
  • musicboy3musicboy3 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    I guess I hadn't thought of only GPA and LSAT as being the determining factors. I always thought they would also take into account other aspects of the applicant's background.
  • surfcitysurfcity Registered User Posts: 1,858 Senior Member
    What is it that you want to DO after you finish this education? A PhD program will want to see a real goal in mind as far as research or scholarship. They will want to see that you can handle research and have a background to demonstrate that. That might mean having statistics courses and research done in an area of interest.

    Law school may not be so dependent on much more than GPA and LSAT and essays.

    But I'd encourage you to figure out what your ultimate goal is and go from there.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,398 Super Moderator
    ^Yeah, good question. It's not uncommon to choose between law school and a PhD - I went through the same thing myself - but you really should decide BEFORE you start applying next semester, and ideally before you take any standardized tests (so you don't waste time and money studying for something you don't need). And if you haven't decided, it's okay (and desirable) to put off applying until you have.

    Since you don't have any formal training in sociology a PhD in that field, especially from a well-regarded program, will be challenging. I agree that you'd want a strong letter of recommendation from at least one sociologist (ideally 2-3). Have you taken any foundational courses in sociology? What do you want to do research in? Public policy would be an easier sell for someone with your academic background.

    However, if you only have research experience in ecology, then you're not really a strong/competitive applicant for a PhD program in the social sciences or public policy. You'll want some social science research experience. It's very different from the life sciences.
  • musicboy3musicboy3 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    I think I'm leaning a bit more towards Law School as it is more practical, more flexible when it comes to job opportunities, and I keep finding myself very interested in the interactions between law and society. Nonetheless, I always consider the PhD as an option because many of the research skills that I am interested in developing are usually obtained in graduate, and not professional, programs.
  • MandalorianMandalorian Registered User Posts: 1,452 Senior Member
    LSAT is really the big thing.
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