Best Way to Apply for a Joint PhD/JD at Stanford

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SehMeSerrious
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Best Way to Apply for a Joint PhD/JD at Stanford

Postby SehMeSerrious » Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:45 pm

If someone who's in the PhD/JD program (or knows about it) could help me at:

I'm really interested in the joint JD/PhD in Political Science (International Relations and US Foreign Policy Focus.)

The problem is that I don't have much of a PoliSci background from my undergrad. I changed majors from engineering to a language because my unit/credit cap prevented me from doing a full international relations/polisci major in time. I took some International Relations classes but they had no hard prereqs and were done during a study abroad, though they are relevant to what I want to do (US Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Migration, and Public Opinion.)

I know that some PhD programs at some universities allow candidates to conditionally enroll in the required background coursework at the beginning, but I don't know if Stanford will go for this type of arrangement, especially for a joint PhD/JD candidate. I will check with them, but if they give a vague answer, does anyone know if they allow that for PhD candidates? They seemed more generous about it than Harvard, where they had hard requirements for background coursework.

Now some people have told me that I should apply to the law school first and then try to lateral into the PhD - however that only works if I know I'm getting into the law school. I haven't heard anything about lateraling from the PhD into the JD - will that work out? Will my chances be greater or the same if I applied to both at once?

Thanks in advance, I would really appreciate any advice people have. I'm kind of set on SLS right now based on their joint program.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Best Way to Apply for a Joint PhD/JD at Stanford

Postby Doorkeeper » Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:56 pm

Unless you have a few Political Science classes under your belt (I'd say minimum 3-5...with 2-3 in IR), I think you have two options:
1) Attempt a JD/MA in Political Science, then apply for the PhD

2) Try to take JD classes with professors who teach/work in the law school that have similar academic interests, then lateral into the PhD using their recommendations.

Both of these are possible, but a blind JD/PhD, although not impossible, especially if you have experience working in IR related positions, is very difficult without having any coursework in the field you're applying for a PhD in.

Stanford lets you apply for the PhD and be considered for the MA, so you could also check that box and see if they will, at the very least, accept you into the MA.

Also an issue for you is that you're going to need three recommendations from Political Science professors. Do you have those lined up already?

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SehMeSerrious
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Re: Best Way to Apply for a Joint PhD/JD at Stanford

Postby SehMeSerrious » Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:28 pm

Well I do have the four courses mentioned above (American Foreign Policy, Human Rights and IR, Politics of International Migration, and IR and Public Opinion), and I did a legal internship while abroad, which I can talk about in my statements (really made me realized how frustrating working with some international orgs and international law regimes can be.) But other than that, I don't have that much of a PoliSci/IR background.

I can get one very strong letter of rec from a polisci professor (veteran think tank analyst, she told me that I should do a PoliSci PhD unprompted during a class break). Other than her, I'm not sure about my recs if they can only be from polisci professors, but I don't think they *have to* be.

I can get strong recs from three Near Eastern Studies professors who can directly speak to my passion for foreign policy, and I'm doing a research independent study for one of them and will write a paper which I will use for my writing sample. It's about the Arab Spring and it's definitely has IR implications, but officially it's listed as an area studies independent study.

I called and it seems like they officially don't mind that I don't have a large polisci background, but the answer was a little vague - the basically said it wasn't required to even take any undergrad background courses if I didn't want to and they have no undergrad requirements since they cover most of what you need to know the first year, but I don't know how well that speaks to actual acceptance rates.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Best Way to Apply for a Joint PhD/JD at Stanford

Postby Doorkeeper » Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:52 pm

SehMeSerrious wrote:Well I do have the four courses mentioned above (American Foreign Policy, Human Rights and IR, Politics of International Migration, and IR and Public Opinion), and I did a legal internship while abroad, which I can talk about in my statements (really made me realized how frustrating working with some international orgs and international law regimes can be.) But other than that, I don't have that much of a PoliSci/IR background.

Hmm...borderline. You'll be considered to have a weak background and will need to make it up with your recs, GRE, and statement.

I can get one very strong letter of rec from a polisci professor (veteran think tank analyst, she told me that I should do a PoliSci PhD unprompted during a class break). Other than her, I'm not sure about my recs if they can only be from polisci professors, but I don't think they *have to* be.

I can get strong recs from three Near Eastern Studies professors who can directly speak to my passion for foreign policy, and I'm doing a research independent study for one of them and will write a paper which I will use for my writing sample. It's about the Arab Spring and it's definitely has IR implications, but officially it's listed as an area studies independent study.

Again, borderline in terms of background. Your Near Eastern professors might be an advantage if you're specifically interested in Near East foreign policy, but you need to be careful of their backgrounds. Poli Sci departments will be none too satisfied with a Poli Sci professor and two English PhD professors. On the other hand, if they're History PhDs, that might be acceptable. Also, if any of your recommendations has a PhD from Stanford Political Science/Economics/History, that gives you a leg up.

I called and it seems like they officially don't mind that I don't have a large polisci background, but the answer was a little vague - the basically said it wasn't required to even take any undergrad background courses if I didn't want to and they have no undergrad requirements since they cover most of what you need to know the first year, but I don't know how well that speaks to actual acceptance rates.


The acceptance rate for Stanford's Political Science PhD is roughly 2-4%. They probably get over 600 applications for 10-20 slots. It is incredibly competitive. This isn't to discourage you, I'm just letting you know.

I would advocate for you to apply for the PhD and check the option that allows for them to consider you for a Master's if they do not think you're ready for a PhD. That way you can do a JD/MA, with the MA possibly turning into a PhD if you perform well.

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SehMeSerrious
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Re: Best Way to Apply for a Joint PhD/JD at Stanford

Postby SehMeSerrious » Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:29 pm

Thanks for the advice, those are some eye-opening stats. I definitely have more research to do.

I definitely want to work in Middle East and North African policy, and that is a major reason I chose to worth with these professors. The professors I will probably get recs from got their PhDs in other universities (the most "prestigious" being Harvard and Georgetown) and I would prefer to get it from them over someone who doesn't know me as well since they can speak to my interests.

I would possibly consider an MA program but a big draw for me was Stanford's funding - they have a really good deal if I do get a fellowship:
Please note that fellowship support may require you to work (e.g., as a teaching assistant) or contribute some funds to your education, but typically should cover all cost associated with both degrees until you complete them or for five additional years.


They also have some people working on problems that are closely related to my interests, both in the law school and in the PoliSci department, and they seem to offer good institutional support for further language training.

Doorkeeper wrote:I would advocate for you to apply for the PhD and check the option that allows for them to consider you for a Master's if they do not think you're ready for a PhD. That way you can do a JD/MA, with the MA possibly turning into a PhD if you perform well.

AFAIK, Stanford does not offer a terminal Master's for Political Science. Is this for another school?

If I don't get in the PhD/JD program but I can get funding for an MA either at Stanford or elsewhere, or if I can TA as an MA, then I have not outright objections to doing that first and reapplying for the PhD/JD program. I'll look it up now, but do you know of any particular funding opportunities/scholarships/fellowship for an MA?

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Best Way to Apply for a Joint PhD/JD at Stanford

Postby Doorkeeper » Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:45 pm

SehMeSerrious wrote:Thanks for the advice, those are some eye-opening stats. I definitely have more research to do.

Yea...applying to PhDs is completely different than applying to law schools, and it's much, much more competitive.

I definitely want to work in Middle East and North African policy, and that is a major reason I chose to worth with these professors. The professors I will probably get recs from got their PhDs in other universities (the most "prestigious" being Harvard and Georgetown) and I would prefer to get it from them over someone who doesn't know me as well since they can speak to my interests.

Ok. Like I previously said, if they're in the Near East studies department, but got their PhDs in history/economics/political science, those recommendations should be possible. Using professors from the institution you're applying to isn't necessary, it's just helpful.

I would possibly consider an MA program but a big draw for me was Stanford's funding - they have a really good deal if I do get a fellowship:
Please note that fellowship support may require you to work (e.g., as a teaching assistant) or contribute some funds to your education, but typically should cover all cost associated with both degrees until you complete them or for five additional years.

Almost all PhDs will cover most, if not all, of your costs of attendance. Some schools will give you a subsidy too. Columbia Political Science covers all tuition, plus gives you a $22,000 subsidy to use for cost of living. This is rather normal for PhD programs. No students, except for the exceptionally wealthy, would go to graduate school if you had to pay for 5-7 years of school.

If I can get funding for the MA or if I can TA as an MA, then I can definitely do that first and reapply for the program. I'll look it up now, but do you know of any particular funding opportunities/scholarships/fellowship for the MA?

You can probably TA in your second year. I don't know whether Stanford directly funds any MA programs, but you can also apply to outside fellowship funding to help pay for your graduate degree.

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SehMeSerrious
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Re: Best Way to Apply for a Joint PhD/JD at Stanford

Postby SehMeSerrious » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:17 pm

Doorkeeper wrote:Ok. Like I previously said, if they're in the Near East studies department, but got their PhDs in history/economics/political science, those recommendations should be possible. Using professors from the institution you're applying to isn't necessary, it's just helpful.

One got a PhD in PoliSci, the rest got it in Middle Eastern Studies or something more or less like that to it (not polisci/econ/history.) Actually I could get one good history recommendation, but the other professors know me better

Doorkeeper wrote:Almost all PhDs will cover most, if not all, of your costs of attendance. Some schools will give you a subsidy too. Columbia Political Science covers all tuition, plus gives you a $22,000 subsidy to use for cost of living. This is rather normal for PhD programs. No students, except for the exceptionally wealthy, would go to graduate school if you had to pay for 5-7 years of school.

Yeah, but most joint PhD/JD programs don't cover the costs of both the PhD and JD - Stanford's program covers the cost of both the PhD and law school, which is a sweet deal. Most others only cover the PhD and not law school tuition. Northwestern offers a funded joint program, but they require that you go into academia whereas Stanford has no such stipulation.

Doorkeeper wrote:You can probably TA in your second year. I don't know whether Stanford directly funds any MA programs, but you can also apply to outside fellowship funding to help pay for your graduate degree.

Stanford doesn't have a separate/terminal MA program in Political Science - is there another top school that has this "consider for MA" option on their PhD application?

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Nulli Secundus
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Re: Best Way to Apply for a Joint PhD/JD at Stanford

Postby Nulli Secundus » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:20 pm

I think chup is doing something similar (not sure about his PhD area though), so you might be better off PMing him.




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