I'm currently finishing up the first of two years of my MBA at the Simon Business School, University of Rochester concentrating in Business and Public Policy and International Management and I am strongly considering going on to get a PhD in political science instead of going the more traditional corporate route post-MBA. My research interest is in comparative politics, specifically the ways that international organizations and actions impact domestic groups differently. If possible I would also like to extend that research to examine how domestic actors can influence their home country's foreign policy. I'm going to be interning with USAID this summer in Ethiopia this summer doing development work and would be really eager to turn this experience into part of my research in a PhD program. Academia would be my first goal, but I would be open to taking this degree into a policy job.

I've been looking at a number of schools and have a list of the big ones below:


  • Stanford Business School PhD in political economy
  • Stanford Political Science
  • Princeton
  • Columbia
  • Duke
  • Chicago
  • UCLA
  • Wisconsin
  • MIT
  • UCSD
  • Rochester
  • University of Washington


A little bit of background on me:

  • 2013 BA in International Relations and History from the University of Rochester. Research Honors with Highest Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, 3.95 overall GPA, Top graduating student in both Political Science department and History department.
  • 2012 GRE scores: Verbal 166 (96%) Quant 159 (74%) Writing 4.5 (80%)
  • I did an honors thesis in history as well as an invite-only upper level research thesis for political science as an undergrad
  • 3.81 GPA in business school. The school is super-quantitative focused and I've been doing a good deal of stats, programming, etc.
  • Studied abroad in France as an undergrad and have 2 years of college-level French.
  • I have solid recommendations I could get from 2 political science professors I did my undergrad work with as well as one History professor who supervised my thesis. I am considering adding another political science prof or someone from my business faculty.


I know my path to a PhD would be a little different and I'm worried that it could be held against me. I know the GRE's are a little low and I'm probably going to take them again. Overall I would like to get a better sense of my chances and how to proceed with this application. Has any one out there had a similar background or known of someone who has? What can I do with a year available to me to make me more competitive? How does this list of schools compare with your experience in terms of "fit"?

Thanks in advance!