Conflicted Political Science Student

whether it's using my degree to work for some sort of think thank, research and academia (professor), a government agency (analyst of some sort), etc. etc. etc.

So these types of goals definitely call for a PhD in political science. It used to be the case that you would move on from your BA, to getting your MA, before applying for a PhD program. But most political science departments that offer MA and PhD tracks are in the process of phasing out the MA option and pushing their students toward working on a PhD. I'm currently working on finishing up my MA in one of these types of departments, but I really don't regret deciding not to go for my PhD quite yet. At the same time, I didn't start the MA program with the same types of goals in mind that you have. I just finished my BA in political science with a love for the study of politics & learning, and I quickly realized I'd made the right decision by moving on to graduate education in that field. If you really like political science as an undergrad, you'll probably end up loving it as a grad student.

There are benefits to opting for a PhD in a department that also offers an MA. To be sure, the course work for both will be nearly identical. In these types of departments, PhD and MA students take the same exact classes, under the same exact professors, with the same exact requirements. But the opportunities and assistance available to each will be very different. For instance, MAs will be paying substantially less in tuition, but they may not have the same type of funding or work opportunities inside the department available to a PhD candidate. Of course, MAs also only have to work on a Master's thesis to complete their degree, whereas a PhD will have to complete a dissertation, which tend to be a lot more intensive and take a substantially longer amount of time to complete. But don't feel trapped. Some departments do offer an option to their PhD students to drop out of the program early if they decide it's not for them and write a thesis to receive an MA.

So if I were you, I'd definitely give serious consideration to a PhD program, and spend a while looking for a program that's right for you. Don't limit your options and apply to as many departments as you can. I can't say to what extent an honor thesis would help put you at the front of the applicant pack, though. Most undergrads enter graduate programs without much experience or knowledge of political science, and that's to be expected. What really matters is 1) your GPA; 2) your GRE scores; 3) your writing sample; 4) your personal statement. It's hard to impress a board of accomplished PhDs who are published frequently and asked to talk often about their area of expertise on national news and other high profile venues; you should be more concerned with demonstrating that you have an interest and room to grow intellectually and academically. Most departments are more interested in finding students who will get involved in the student culture, help their program grow & attract funding, than someone whose going to try to solve the next major global crisis.

With that said, don't look at your post-BA options are either/or. You really do have time to complete both a PhD & a law degree if you'd really like to. I've had several professors in the past who did exactly that, and it really opens up the options you'll face down the line instead of limiting them.

I could go on and on and on about this, and I will if you have anymore questions you'd like to ask. But I'm also kind of curious about who your 2 professors are "who are supposedly well known in the Poli Sci world," so PM me that if you don't mind? Otherwise, good luck.

/r/PoliticalDiscussion Thread