The summer institute helps first-generation and minority students to apply for a doctorate in political science. programs> News> USC Dornsife



The POIR pre-doctoral summer institute aims to increase the diversity of the pools of candidates for the best doctorates. programs in political science or other social science fields at USC and across the country.

political science or related fields. Pictured is student participant Ayana Best, a senior at UC Riverside. Photos by Yaminah McKessey.”/>

A USC Dornsife-sponsored summer institute enables first-generation and minority undergraduate and masters students who plan to pursue a doctorate. in political science or related fields. Pictured is student participant Ayana Best, a senior at UC Riverside. Photos by Yaminah McKessey.

On Saturday, June 18, the Doctor of Political Science and International Relations (POIR) program at USC Dornsife hosted the first POIR Undergraduate Summer Institute for First Generation and Minority Researchers. The institute was designed for first generation undergraduate, masters or law students and minorities who plan to pursue a doctorate. in political science or in related fields such as sociology, economics or public policy.

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Christian Grose, director of the POIR Ph.D. program and associate professor of political science at USC Dornsife, presenting the day’s program.

The goal was to bring together students from across Southern California to learn more about these programs and to receive specific feedback and advice on how to write a successful and competitive admissions application. Five political science faculty members from USC Dornsife and six current POIR doctoral students. the students were on hand to work directly with the institute participants.

There were nearly 100 applications for 25 places at the institute. Given the high demand, the organizers aim to welcome again. We spoke with Christian Grose, director of the POIR Ph.D. program and associate professor of political science, about the event.

Laura Paisley: What problem does this event aim to solve, and how does it do it?

Christian Grose: One of the “bad problems” of political science and international relations – and many other social sciences – is creating better access to higher education for first generation and minority students. In political science and international relations at all universities in the United States, there is an increasing diversity of undergraduate students specializing in these fields, but less diversity among graduate students and especially among full and full professors. There are a lot of first generation and minority students who are educated, but very few are teaching and doing research.

The POIR predoctoral institute is a first step in increasing the diversity of the pools of candidates for the best doctorate. political science programs across the country, including our program at USC. The institute has brought together undergraduates from many universities in Southern California. Some of the students who participated have little interaction with professors at research institutions, and one of the goals of the institute was to create new avenues for learning what it takes to earn a doctorate. and succeed in academia. Other participating students have interactions with active research professors, but could benefit from additional mentoring and networking with other professors and students, which the institute has also provided.

The institute’s ultimate goal is to increase the portfolio of minority and first generation doctorates. students and teachers. Second, we hope that the institute will create an increase in the diversity of the candidate pool for POIR and other doctorates. programs at USC. USC Graduate School has generously offered to waive the application fee for all students who have attended the institute as part of USC’s new Graduate Initiative for Diversity, Inclusion, and Access.

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The POIR doctoral student panel speaks to institute participants while Christian Grose moderates.

LP: What advantage (s) does obtaining a doctorate bring? in political science and international relations compared to a bachelor’s or master’s degree?

CG: A doctorate in political science and international relations prepares students to enter academia as professors. The doctorate is necessary for conducting research and teaching in political science and international relations. Many first-generation undergraduates are passionate about research and excel in the classroom, but don’t know how to apply for a doctorate. programs. Plus, many don’t have the mentorship or knowledge to know that a PhD. Trains them for a career in academia and what to expect if one pursues that career.

LP: What are the top three things participants learned to keep in mind when applying for a PhD? political science program?

CG: First of all, the students learned what happens in a doctoral application. and how their specific research questions and interests can be shaped to fit more broadly into the disciplinary fields and sub-fields of political science and international relations. Many students have specific questions they wish to study, but find it difficult to understand how their research interests translate into both the larger discipline and match the research interests of doctoral professors. programs they are applying for.

Second, especially for students who are in their first year or less, we have stressed the importance of seizing research opportunities with their own professors at their universities or in other settings. Many were interested in a doctorate, but the best way both to learn more about the work of a professor and to improve his doctorate. the application is to seek opportunities to conduct original research and to learn directly from professors active in research.

Third, students at the institute were given specific advice on how to shape and frame their doctorate. applications. There are many factors that are important when applying for a doctorate. program, but two important parts of the application are the CV and the personal statement. Participants received direct feedback from USC faculty and PhD. students on what to include in their CVs and personal statements when applying for a PhD. In addition, the faculty has promised to follow up with the students as they continue to write their personal statements for their doctorate. applications.

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