Advising

Policy on advising undergraduate/masters theses:

  • In general, I advise theses that directly relate to my research areas. Sometimes I will advise projects that interest me for some other reason.  Perhaps this is because it relates to topics I’m interested in working on in the future. There’s no easy way to know this besides contacting me with a (brief) note describing your interest area.
  • Please keep in mind that, while issues of substantive fit will always be strongly considered, I may have to decline a request to advise if I have too many existing advisees. Feel free to check back with me in a quarter or two if I decline for this reason.

Policy on advising Ph.D. dissertations:

  • In general, I advise students who have taken a seminar with me.
  • I will consider advising a wide range of dissertation topics. A direct relationship to my work is not necessary.
  • When discussing my potential role as an advisor for the Ph.D., be prepared to talk frankly about two issues. First, what your goals are after finishing your Ph.D., including your interest (or not) in teaching-heavy academic jobs and non-academic jobs.  Second, the role you see me filling on your committee.

Policy on letter writing:

  • Writing letters of recommendation is time consuming. In general, my policy is to only write letters for students who have been successful in a seminar I teach. For undergraduates, that means my taking my "Secret Side of International Politics" class and writing a very strong final paper.  For graduate students, that means taking any grad seminar I offer and getting a high grade.
  • Please request any letters no less than one month before the due date for letter writers.
  • If I have not written a letter for you before, please also send an e-packet of relevant materials attached to one email. Most important is any written work you have done for me in a class.  Also useful is a personal statement or similar overview of your experience at UChicago and future plans; unofficial transcript; resume / CV; other written work that is especially relevant and/or high quality; any background information about non-academic jobs, experiences, accomplishments that are relevant. 
  • Feel free to send a short email reminder a few days before any important deadlines.

“Should I get a Ph.D.?”

  • I have lots of thoughts about the choice to pursue a Ph.D. in political science / International Relations.  I was tremendously underinformed when I made my own decisions about this.  Don't hesitate to ask for my thoughts during class, office hours, or any other time in person.
  • One specific hobby horse is that I think students too often see a Ph.D. as the logical next step in continuing their successful academic life. That is, pursuing a Ph.D. in political science is what especially academically talented people should do.  I disagree.  My view is that a Ph.D. is only worth pursuing if talented students strongly believe they will be happy and successful working in the unusual day-to-day rhythm of being a professor. It therefore behooves students to ask faculty around campus to get a good sense of the realities of getting an academic job and day-to-day life as an academic.