The Challenges and Advantages for Seasoned Professionals Applying to and Navigating Doctoral Programs

14 February 2022, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Graduate students in political science who have spent significant time in the workforce before doctoral studies encounter different challenges than students who matriculate immediately or soon after undergraduate study. In deciding to pursue a Ph.D., seasoned professionals may face significant financial opportunity costs, cultural re-entry issues, familial responsibilities, or geographical constraints. Additionally, the academic culture at R1 universities can sometimes undervalue how prior professional experience helps inform a rich research agenda. Yet, the maturity and professionalism older graduate students bring to the classroom and in shouldering additional departmental responsibilities benefit doctoral programs. This chapter offers some suggestions for seasoned professionals thinking about pursuing a Ph.D. at the application stage, navigating graduate studies, and contributing to their academic departments. This manuscript is part of Strategies for Navigating Graduate School and Beyond, a forthcoming volume for those interested in pursuing graduate education in political science (Fall 2022 publication).


Strategies for Grad School
applied work experience
returning to academia


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