PoliSci PhD: Or, you guys probably get this pretty often.

<p>Hi all,</p>

<p>I'm gonna apologize in advance if I seem entirely overwhelmed and baffled by the grad school process, but that's where I am. I really could use some constructive advice as my university has been extremely hectic and I've yet to land an advising appointment.</p>

<p>I'm graduating in the spring with a B.A in International Relations from a fairly reputable public school. Certificates in Chinese Studies and National Security Studies, two years of Mandarin Chinese classes. Doing an honors thesis on Chinese-Pakistani relations that I hope to get published. GPA is currently sitting at 3.94. No internships sadly, but some on-campus involvement I think is valuable. GRE scores are pending but the range I got was 1150-1350 (the 200 pt swing here makes me a little nervous). </p>

<p>What's a realistic goal here and what isn't? I like to think I have a good profile. I'm considering PoliSci PhD programs because they're fully funded as opposed to MA programs in IR. I was looking at Brown, several of their PhD students came straight from BA. </p>

<p>Literally any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance guys.</p>

<p>Regardless of funding, the PhD will be research intensive, so be sure you want to make that kind of commitment.</p>

<p>Only include your campus involvement if it is relevant to the programs you are applying to. </p>

<p>Do a search here and see what others have posted about PoliSci. You may even find others who posted their stats and the schools they were applying to so you can have an idea. </p>

<p>A lot of schools have a page listing their current masters/PhD students. Some of these students have links to their personal websites and/or CVs. What I have been doing is comparing their CVs (just the undergrad years, since many have updates from grad school) to see how my CV compares. If I see that all of the students come from HYP schools, had 6 publications and 10 poster presentations, etc., then I know it is a reach school. (And those are exaggerations for explanatory purposes - I don't think 6 publications or 10 presentations during undergrad are common, even from HYP).</p>

<p>Your GPA can offset your GRE scores, although I read somewhere else that the Quant is important for PoliSci. Writing a thesis is great. What about writers for letters of recommendation? How strong do you think your letters will be?</p>

<p>NovaLynnx,</p>

<p>Thanks so much for the feedback. That CV comparison strategy is a good one, I'll definitely be employing that. </p>

<p>As far as the letters of recommendation go, I like to think they're fairly good. As it stands all three are coming from professors. One got his PhD at Georgetown, another at Hopkins, and the last from a Chinese university. None of them are global political superstars or anything like that but all are accomplished and respected members of our faculty.</p>

<p>The mentioned on-campus involvement is coordinating mock elections for a PoliSci honor society and coordinating intelligence simulations on crisis situations, so I think it deserves a mention. Should I be concerned about the GRE being used as some arbitrary cut off? I like to think I exist beyond the numbers of a single exam hah.</p>

<p>That's great if they are well-respected, but what they specifically say about /you/ is crucial. It should be more than, "He got an A in my class. Bright kid." They should be able to attest to your abilities to do well in grad school by pointing out key traits, projects you did (like the campus involvement you mentioned, how much do they know about it?), etc. Most professors will be honest about whether they can write you a good letter. If yours said they can, then you shouldn't have to worry. </p>

<p>I don't know the specific GRE "goal" for your field, but if you swing toward the 1200/1300 I wouldn't worry about a cut-off. Cut-offs aren't always hard (meaning a set number - soft cutoffs can happen if both your GRE and GPA stink and nothing else in your application grabs their attention), and your GPA will more than make up for it. However, if you have the time and truly believe you could score roughly 200pts more, you might want to re-take it. If you don't have time, then let it be and focus more on selling yourself in your statement of purpose.</p>