Strategies for Navigating Graduate School and Beyond


Poster grad school cover

Strategies for Navigating Graduate School and Beyond

Edited by Kevin G. Lorentz ii, Daniel J. Mallinson, Julia Marin Hellwege, Davin Pheonix, and J. Cherie Strachan


Download individual chapters by clicking the links in the table of contents below!

Earning a graduate degree in political science is the first step in pursuing an academic or alt-academic career. yet there is a large hidden curriculum in graduate school pertaining to strategies, norms, and practices which, when implemented, can help students navigate graduate school. yet these can be difficult to learn and navigate, even for the most successful undergraduate students and early career professionals who are beginning their graduate career. beyond gaining entry to graduate school, surviving, and thriving as a successful graduate student requires insights into academia and political science that most undergraduates, recent college graduates, or early career professionals simply will not know. additionally, lack of access to this hidden curriculum most disadvantages first generation and minoritized students, which maintains inequalities in the discipline.


Presently, the APSA leadership is enhancing its efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion across the profession by addressing issues of climate and culture, as well as institutional and systemic inequality through a variety of measures: diversity and inclusion programming, presidential task forces, and other council-backed initiatives. this resource guide is an essential component of APSA’s effort to fill the knowledge-gap for prospective and current graduate students, as it provides insights into everything from applying for admission and finding a mentor to landing that first job—and everything in between.


"This book is a road map for students in graduate school pursuing a degree in political science—one that i wished i had 30 years ago! graduate students can gain real insight into how to apply to graduate school and whether that is the right choice for them. they also can learn the importance of mentorship and service to the profession.  finally, after graduation—there are many helpful resources to navigate the job market and make the most of that first job in academia. Being a graduate student is a scary process and this book has answers to so many questions, all in one book. valuable!" —Dr. Terry L. Gilmour, Midland College and Executive Council, APSA


"Strategies for Navigating Graduate School and Beyond is a remarkably comprehensive resource for new and prospective students seeking to understand the "unwritten curriculum" of political science. Readers who are new to the field will get a broad overview of the culture of our profession and learn what issues they may confront during their academic career.”—Dr. Justin Esarey, Wake Forest University and Co-Editor of PS: Political Science and Politics


"This extensive volume, featuring advice from an impressive group of political scientists representing a diverse range of perspectives, is a helpful starter guide for anyone interested in pursuing a PhD in political science. For years, many of us have been cobbling together this kind of advice for prospective students - and now we can find it all in one place! Strategies for Navigating Graduate School and Beyond is an important addition to the professional development literature for early career political scientists." Dr. Tanya Schwarz, Executive Director of Pi Sigma Alpha


"This urgently needed book provides comprehensive, sage advice to current and prospective graduate students who are entering the field of political science. From navigating mentor relationships to conferences to teaching to the perilous job market, it lays out the previously unspoken information which graduate students really need to know from insiders. A must-read for anyone seeking to succeed during and after a political science graduate program!" —Dr. Alison Rios Millett McCartney, Towson University and associate editor for the Journal of Political Science Education

Table of Contents

Front Matter (TOC)



John Ishiyama


1 | Nevertheless, We Persisted: Pathways Through Grad School (Introduction)

Kevin G. Lorentz II, Daniel J. Mallinson, Julia Marin Hellwege, Davin Phoenix, and J. Cherie



Section I: The Application Process


2 | How to Get In: A Roadmap for Navigating Decision-Making and the Application Process

Kelly Piazza, Chris Culver, and Lynne Chandler-Garcia


3 | Financial Concerns: Taking on Student Loans, Graduate Assistant Positions, and Funding Considerations

Courtney N. Haun and Jennifer Schenk Sacco


4 | Don’t You Forget About Me: The Application Process and Choosing a Program

Tara Chandra, Patricia C. Rodda, and William D. Adler


5 | Seasoned Professionals Applying to and Navigating Doctoral Programs

Marty P. Jordan, Erika Rosebrook, and Eleanor Schiff

Section II: On Campus


6 | Moving Beyond the One-Shot Orientation: Understanding and Making the Most

of Ongoing Orientations

Anthony Petros Spanakos and Mishella Romo Rivas


7 | Building a Supportive Mentoring Network

Mary Anne S. Mendoza and Samantha A. Vortherms41


8 | Speak of the Devil and (S)he Appears: The Role of Academic Administrators

During Graduate School and Beyond

Lauren C. Bell


9 | When Do Titles Matter and Why? A Guide for Graduate Students in Political


Meg K. Guliford, Meena Bose, and Dan Drezner53


10 | Relax! They’re Important, But Not Defining Choices: Choosing Your Subfield

and Committees

Mike Widmeier and Joseph B. Phillips


11 | Does an Internship Have Value for Political Science Graduate Students?

Susan E. Baer


12 | The Explicit, Implicit, and Unknown: Comprehensive Exams

Samantha R. Cooney and David O. Monda


13 | Selecting an Adviser: Professsional and Personal Considerations

Chris Macaulay, Mary McThomas, and Alisson Rowland


14 | Getting Started on the Doctoral Dissertation

Brady Baybeck


15 | The Doctoral Dissertation and MA Thesis: Managing the Process, Your Life, and

Your Data

Michael Widmeier and Dessi Kirilova


16 | Balancing Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Graduate School

Kimberly Saks McManaway, Regina Bateson, Marty P. Jordan, Karen Kedrowski, and Kyle



17 | Practicing Effective Time Management

Samantha A. Vortherms and Coyle Neal


Section III: Professional Development—



18 | Professional Norms: Clearing a Barrier to Developing Meaningful Relationships

Benjamin Isaak Gross, Kevin M. Kearns, and Evan M. Lowe


19 | Balancing Expectations for Research Transparency: Institutional Review

Boards, Funders, and Journals

Mneesha Gellman, Matthew C. Ingram, Diana Kapiszewski, and Sebastian Karcher


20 | Fieldwork

Kelebogile Zvobgo, Charmaine N. Willis, Myunghee Lee, Anne-Kathrin Kreft, and Ezgi Irgil


21 | How to Conference

Kimberly N. Turner, Christina Boyes, Elizabeth Bennion, and James Newman


22 | Hidden Expenses in Graduate School: Navigating Financial Precarity and


Devon Cantwell-Chavez and Alisson Rowland


23 | Show Me the Money: Information, Strategies, and Guidelines for Applying to

Grants and Fellowships in Graduate School

Angie Torres-Beltran, Cameron Mailhot, Elizabeth Dorssom, and Christina Boyes


24 | Political Science Publications: Charting Your Own Path

Shane Nordyke


25 | Turning Term Papers into Articles: Paths to a Productive Peer-Review Process

Michael P. A. Murphy


26 | Managing Online Harassment in the Academy

Seth Masket, Angela Ocampo, and Jennifer Victor


27 | To Twitter or Not to Twitter

Elizabeth (Bit) Meehan and Salah Ben Hammou


Section IV: Professional Development—



28 | Serving as a Graduate Teaching Assistant: Tips and Strategies

Zoe Nemerever and Bianca Rubalcava181


29 | Preparing for the First Solo Teaching Experience: An Alternative to Learning as

You Go

Christina Boyes, Mario Guerrero, Matt Lamb, and Mary Anne S. Mendoza


30 | Resources for Teaching Excellence: APSA’s Education Section and the TLC

Megan Becker, Elizabeth A. Bennion, Colin M. Brown, and Eric Loepp


Section V: Professional Development—



31 | Academic Service and Flourishing

Anthony Petros Spanakos and Ignangeli Salinas-Muniz


32 | Towards a More Holistic Graduate Experience: Professional Service to the


Courtney N. Haun and Ivy A. M. Cargile


33 | Community, Solidarity, and Collective Power: The Role of Graduate Student

Organizations and Graduate Worker Unions

Samantha R. Cooney, Patrick J. Gauding, Anna A. Meier, and Kevin Reuning


34 | Expect the Unexpected: Choices and Challenges in the Political Science PhD

Job Market

Bobbi G. Gentry, Kyla K. Stepp, and Jeremiah J. Castle


35 | Mental Health and the Job Market

Anna A. Meier, Adnan Rasool, and Annelise Russell


36 | What Your PhD Advisors Can’t Tell You Because They Don’t Know: Landing a

Job at a Student-Focused Institution

Karen M. Kedrowski


37 | A Commitment to Teaching, Learning, and Student Advocacy: Community

College Careers

LaTasha Chaffin DeHaan, Josh Franco, Ver.nica Reyna, and Randy Villegas


Section VI: Professional Development—The

Job Market


38 | More than Reordering the Cover Letter: Preparing for Careers at Small Liberal

Arts Colleges

Kelly Bauer and Shamira Gelbman


39 | Preparing for a Career at a Regional Comprehensive University

Elizabeth A. Bennion, Monica E. Lineberger, and Eric D. Loepp


40 | Succeeding at a Research-Intensive Institution (R1 or R2)

Karen M. Kedrowski and Benjamin Melusky


41 | Pushing the Boundaries of Your PhD: Exploring Careers Outside the Ivory Tower

Danielle Gilbert, S.R. Gubitz, Jennifer Kavanagh, and Kelly Piazza


42 | Weighing Up the Options: The Adventure of an Academic Career Outside of the

United States

Dale Mineshima-Lowe, Pablo Biderbost, and Guillermo Boscán Carrasquero


43 | Making a Statement: Research, Teaching, and Diversity Statements for the

Academic Job Market

Kelly Bauer, Colin M. Brown, Melissa L. Sands, and Maricruz Ariana Osorio


44 | A Limited Time Offer: Exploring Adjunct, Visiting, and Fixed-Term Positions

Austin Trantham, Connor J.S. Sutton, Margaret Mary Ochner, and Jennifer E. Lamm


45 | The Academic Interview/Marathon

Christopher Macaulay and Michelle D. Deardorff


46 | You Have an Academic Job Offer…Now What? Negotiating Advice from Two


William O’Brochta and Lori Poloni-Staudinger


47 | Started from the Bottom, Now We’re Here: Navigating the Job Market Without

a “Top Tier” PhD

Rachel E. Finnell and Alexandra T. Middlewood


48 | Getting “Us” a Job: The Two+ Body Problem and the Academic Job Market

Tyler P. Yates


49 | Climate and Culture in Political Science: Diversifying our Institutions, Methods,

and Identities to Combat Implicit Bias and Microaggressions

Natasha Altema McNeely, LaTasha Chaffin DeHaan, and Ver.nica Hoyo


Section VII: Climate and Culture in the

Department and Profession


50 | Feeling Like a Fraud: Imposter Syndrome in Political Science

Thomas S. Benson, Bobbi G. Gentry, and Sarah Shugars


51 | Discrimination and Sexual Assault: Resources and Options for Responding and


Devon Cantwell-Chavez, Asif Siddiqui, and Christina Fattore


52 | Sexual Harassment in Academia: What Every Graduate Student Should Know

Rebecca Gill and Valerie Sulfaro


53 | What Do You Need to Know About the Culture of Overwork?

Thomas S. Benson


54 | Concerns for BIPOC Students and Scholars and a Model for Inclusive


Aleena Khan, Jair Moreira, Jessica S. Taghvaiee, and Andrea Benjamin


55 | Political Science & LGBTQ Identity: Thoughts & Suggestions for LGBTQ

Graduate Students

Monique Newton, Brian F. Harrison, and Edward F. Kammerer, Jr.

Section VIII: Strategies for Addressing

Implicit Bias, Harassment, and Assault



56 | Gender and the Political Science Graduate Experience: When Leaning In Isn’t


Maya Novak-Herzog, Alisson Rowland, Kimberly Saks McManaway, and Tabitha Bonilla


57 | Concerns for International Graduate Students in Political Science

Thomas S. Benson and Silviya Gancheva 


58 | Teaching as an International Graduate Student

Irmak Yazici


59 | Religious Minorities and the Graduate School Experience

Sierra Davis Thomander and Andrea Malji


60 | Concerns for First-Gen Political Science Graduate Students

Thomas S. Benson and T. Mark Montoya


61 | Disabilities and Chronic Health Issues

Eun A Jo, Sally Friedman, and Alan Babcock

Section IX: Health and Wellness in

Graduate School



62 | Why You’re Doing This: Sustaining Joy and Inspiration in the Scholarly Vocation.

Yuna Blajer de la Garza, Patrick J. Egan, and Sarah Shugars


63 | No Rapunzel in This Ivory Tower: Finding Your Collective and Overcoming

Academic Isolation

Devon Cantwell-Chavez, Siobhan Kirkland, Hannah Lebovits, Maricruz Ariana Osorio, Natalie

Rojas, Rosalie Rubio, Sarah Shugars, Rachel Torres, and Rachel Winter


64 | Health and Well-Being in Graduate School: Preventing Burnout

Thomas S. Benson and Christina Boyes


65 | Things that Can Go “Wrong”: Finding Our Own Way in Graduate School

Misbah Hyder, Dana El Kurd, Felicity Gray, Devon Cantwell-Chavez, and Alisson Rowland


66 | Should I Stay or Should I Go? Making the Decision to Leave Your Graduate


Carmen J. Burlingame


67 | Rest in Graduate School: Boundaries, Care-Taking Labor, Racial Capitalism, and

Ill Health

Pyar Seth and Alexandra De Ciantis


68 | Mental Health and Well-Being in Grad School: Dealing with Isolation,

Depression, Anxiety, and Turmoil

Nasir Almasri and Dana El Kurd


69 | Health and Well-Being in Graduate School: Counseling and Other Resources

Mikaela Karstens and Anne M. Whitesell


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