PHD in Political Science

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A'nold
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PHD in Political Science

Postby A'nold » Mon Dec 29, 2008 9:03 am

I've read through many schools' admission requirements and general information pages on this degree, and on every site they say that a prior Master's Degree (they do not specify which one) can eliminate the need to complete the MA at that particular school. Does a JD qualify for this? If so, what should a JD candidate focus on while in school? I know for ls admissions, grad school GPA and accomplishments matter less than UG GPA, but I assume it is not the case in PHD programs and I bet that the graduate GPA and certain accolades go a long way towards an acceptance. Furthermore, these sites state that an oral examination on a dissertation is necessary to waive certain MA req's. I'm pretty sure that I will not be writing a "dissertation" so to speak in ls, but would law review articles and other pieces of work count towards the req's? I know these questions may sound naive but I am honestly brand new to this research and need a jumping off point to really look into this option. Finally, I know GPA is important, but how about the ls ranking itself? Would you have to be a t14 student to qualify for a great PHD program or would a great GPA from a regional law school be respectable as well?

I know many people will question why I do not just go the MA route. Here are the reasons why I can't really do that: 1. My UG GPA suffered towards the end because of certain circumstances, and it would not get me into a good MA program. 2. I'm not even sure I want to go down this path 100% and there are a plethora of opportunities a JD opens up for me that I would love to explore and I like the flexibility a JD affords graduates. 3. It is a better fallback option in case I cannot find a professorship.

Anyway, if anyone has any info. please answer this thread, it will be much appreciated! :D

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Genki
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Re: PHD in Political Science

Postby Genki » Mon Dec 29, 2008 9:06 am

I don't think your going to get many replies from people who actually know about your situation.
Why don't you call up some universities with PhD programs you are interested in and ask them. They should be able to provide you with the info that you need.

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A'nold
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Re: PHD in Political Science

Postby A'nold » Mon Dec 29, 2008 9:17 am

Genki wrote:I don't think your going to get many replies from people who actually know about your situation.
Why don't you call up some universities with PhD programs you are interested in and ask them. They should be able to provide you with the info that you need.



Yeah, I will probably do that tomorrow when they open, but I remember reading about a few posters that were actually working on this degree and I was hoping to gain some insight from them, even anecdotal personal stories would be great. Thanks for the reply.

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bwv812
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Re: PHD in Political Science

Postby bwv812 » Mon Dec 29, 2008 9:23 am

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Last edited by bwv812 on Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

181
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Re: PHD in Political Science

Postby 181 » Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:28 am

A'nold wrote: I'm not even sure I want to go down this path 100% and there are a plethora of opportunities a JD opens up for me that I would love to explore and I like the flexibility a JD affords graduates.


:|

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StCuervo
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Re: PHD in Political Science

Postby StCuervo » Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:06 am

I was in a PhD program in political science for 4 years. I dropped out when my daughter was born so I only have the master's degree but I know something about these programs. My master's thesis and dissertation (to-be) were on institutional constraints to judicial decision-making so this is an area where a law degree would be helpful. And, indeed, I have toyed with the idea of finishing my PhD after law school.

It is going to vary from school to school but my hunch is that a JD you will actually not get a lot of extra credit knocked off of your course-work requirements. (You will, however, probably be a more attractive candidate when you are applying.) In my program, you had to complete 75 units of course-work to get the PhD and some (I think it was 12) of those units could be from classes outside the department (but you had to get your advisor's permission and the graduate director's permission first). So I actually took one 3 or 4 unit class in the law school which counted toward my requirement. To get the Master's degree you had to complete 30 or 35 units and write a thesis but the point is that they want you to take most of your classes within the department. The thesis (or dissertation) also has to be original research so if you have done a paper in law school, you might be able to use it as the foundation of a new project but you couldn't simply turn in something you did earlier and expect to get credit toward a master's or PhD with it.

The question I would ask you is why you want the PhD. PhDs are only useful if you want to teach. If you take on a lot of debt in law school and then get a teaching job in political science that pays $60K a year, you may not be liking life very much. Law teaching jobs pay more but I don't think starting salaries in law are more than $90K -- although I could be wrong -- and you don't always need a PhD for a law teaching job so why waste the time getting it?

Feel free to PM me (or respond on the thread) if you want to discuss this further.

Moth26
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Re: PHD in Political Science

Postby Moth26 » Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:25 am

I dropped out of a PhD program, though not in Poli Sci, to attend law school. In my PhD program, most students with an MA had to redo the first few years of coursework. This makes sense, because without taking courses, then you will not be able to establish a relationship with an advisor or learn what constitutes a good project.

Obviously, the fact that I dropped out of the program means that I have a somewhat biased perspective, but I would also suggest that you strongly consider why you want a PhD. I cannot stress enough how bad the job market currently is in academia. Even at top 5 schools, people in my field are taking 3-4 years to find a tenure-track job. That's after 7 years of graduate school. If you are not fully committed to your project - and fully aware that being a PhD and a professor constitutes a great deal of writing in isolation both papers and grants (it is by no means just fun teaching), then become so. With job prospects being as bleak as they are, I think that the only people who should do a PhD outside of the hard sciences are those who don't need a job at the other end or who think the risk is worth it.

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A'nold
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Re: PHD in Political Science

Postby A'nold » Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:39 am

Thanks you guys for the responses, and I am pm'ing you St. Cuervo. To the last poster: I don't mind being an adjunct prof. for awhile as long as it one day leads to a tenured position. My wife is going to be a professor of the Ancient Middle East and after working with many professors in UG I can see myself as a prof. I know the money isn't great but I also will not be going to a ls where I'll take down more than 60k in debt. Also, can't PHD candidates qualify for fellowships?

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StCuervo
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Re: PHD in Political Science

Postby StCuervo » Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:44 am

A'nold wrote:Also, can't PHD candidates qualify for fellowships?


Yes (which is why I only mentioned law school debt in my response to you -- I assumed you'd be on fellowship).

This is advice I have given all of my former students who were interested in getting a PhD: do not go unless they offer you a fellowship. A fellowship is a sign of how badly the school wants you and how much faith they have in your abilities. If they don't offer you a fellowship, it is a sign the faculty (who will make or break you) aren't that excited about having you on board. So go somewhere where they are excited about you.

Also, as you note, the starting salries are low so taking 50-100K in debt for a job that pays 50 or 60K just isn't worth it. Adjuncts sometimes get paid as low as 35K a year. It is really not worth it to go that route.

Moth26
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Re: PHD in Political Science

Postby Moth26 » Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:13 pm

I want to second that advice about not going if they don't offer you a scholarship. That's exactly right.

Having seen a number of friends take the adjunct route, I am skeptical that their adjunct positions frequently turn into tenured ones. Far more of them seem to get stuck on the adjunct path and then either stay there or leave academia. It might be different in your field, but do some investigation.

Another problem I would caution you about is having a spouse in academia. I dropped out of my program, because my husband became a professor in a region where it was clear that I would never get hired. My department at his school actually had a policy against taking adjuncts, so that route wasn't even an option if we wanted to live together. The reality of the market is that most people seem to get very few if any job offers, so you might not have much choice in where you move - unless, of course, your wife already has the job and you know what your situation will be like. But, it is hard to be an academic couple - they call it "the two-body problem."

jacko
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Re: PHD in Political Science

Postby jacko » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:27 am

I realize this is a very old thread, but I'm currently deciding whether I want to get a JD or a PhD in political science. I never really considered getting a PhD until two of my professors recommended it and now I think that I might be good at it. However, I really law for the better employment prospects and geographic mobility but other than that I don't really know why I want to practice law besides the fact that I think I would be good at it. However, the prospects for getting a tenure track job are very bleak and a PhD is a huge undertaking. Anyways, if anyone has any constructive insights they would like to share then I would love to hear them.




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