Search This Blog

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Political Science Ph.D.

At The Washington Post, Daniel Drezner writes about the wisdom of getting a Ph.D. Although he is focusing specifically on international relations, his advice applies more broadly to political science:
Start by reading this. Then:
Click here if you’re a D.C. wonk thinking about getting a PhD to advance your non-academic career.
Click here if you’re a woman contemplating the PhD route as a way to advance your career.
Click here if you’re an undergraduate who wants to apply for a PhD program.
Click here if you’ve been out of college for a few years and want to apply to a PhD program.
I would add only two additional points. The first is that if your goal is to become a professor and you are not accepted with a scholarship into a top-20 political science program, I would not in good conscience recommend that you get a PhD.
Most of the professoriate in international relations comes from the elite schools. Whether this is because these schools function as a prestige cartelor not is immaterial: the reason will not change the current realities. The academic job market is brutal; getting an academic job without a degree from a top-20 institution is even more brutal.
The second point is that if your goal is to not become a professor and you are accepted into a doctoral program in political science, let me warn you right now that your goals could very well be changed while in graduate school.
He goes on to say that most Ph.D. programs train their students to be professors and nothing else. He is right.  When I was going to grad school and sought advice on non-academic employment, I found that the school had no mechanism to do so.  I went to career services, and the staffer there treated me as if I were a bum asking for a handout at a fancy restaurant:  "We don't work much with graduate students."