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Grad School Thread

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Teger, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    I'm still curious how/why you're looking at graduate study in two completely different fields, and that's certainly not answered in the OP.

    Couple of reasons:

    1. The two fields aren't as different as most disciplines (ie: chemistry and biology, physics and accounting). There's a lot of interplay, especially when you get into higher level lit stuff, especially what I'd be interesting in .. something like historical context of a book, things like that.

    2. I'm only applying to one history program (my alma mater), both because of the opportunity to work with a very, very good professor and because of the department's relationship with the local community. For the professor, he has a proven record of placing his students into top PhD programs - his last TA just got into Michigan, one before that Yale, one before that UVA. That's impressive. The program also offers a good opportunity if I decide not to pursue a PhD in history - the opportunity to end my MA program with a competitive local internship.

    Another question that keeps popping up in this thread is "what are you going to do with an MA?" My answer is simple: while I'd love to continue into a PhD program, if that's not feasible, either as a result of the difficulty in getting into a top program or just a simple change in personal preference, I believe that having an MA isn't going to especially hurt me.

    Further, one of the reasons I'm tempted to stay at VCU is that VCU is hot shit in Richmond. Another two years here is two years of networking and making contacts, contacts that can lead to jobs. The university itself is also one of the largest employers in the city (if not the state), and there's a pretty easy transition from an MA program into a job here.

    Regardless, I've had to work pretty hard to get where I am now, and I feel in doing so I've made some good connections, learned the value of hard work and learned how to make connections. I always have the 'what's next' question in the back of my mind, and yea sure, a humanities MA doesn't directly lead into a set career like some degrees, but it's not the anathema that some people think it is.
     
  2. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    Also, having read your threads about graduate study in science, I think you're taking graduate school in the humanities a little "too seriously." Not to imply that it's a joke - or that it's not for someone who's dedicated to the field, but compared to a program where you take 6 classes total (paraphrasing you), it's really, really different. I won't really be getting into my personal, extensive thesis research until after I graduate.
     
  3. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    1. The two fields aren't as different as most disciplines (ie: chemistry and biology, physics and accounting). There's a lot of interplay, especially when you get into higher level lit stuff, especially what I'd be interesting in .. something like historical context of a book, things like that.
    Have you narrowed your focus to a fairly limited subject, even something that might fall across the English/History boundary? The MA would probably give you time to figure that out, but the people I knew who went straight for a PhD had a reasonably narrow focus from the beginning.
    That's a reasonable thought process.
    You're going to be pretty depressed if you are trying to get a faculty job within a particular city. There are probably only a handful of job openings a decade and the competition is national for those jobs. Whatever advantages you get within that market are pretty minimal compared to the limited market and limitations on seeking jobs elsewhere, which is probably what you'd have to do.
    Also, having read your threads about graduate study in science, I think you're taking graduate school in the humanities a little "too seriously." Not to imply that it's a joke - or that it's not for someone who's dedicated to the field, but compared to a program where you take 6 classes total (paraphrasing you), it's really, really different. I won't really be getting into my personal, extensive thesis research until after I graduate.
    Part of the difference is just between people who go for the masters first vs people who go straight for the PhD. I know humanity people take a LOT more classes and that the experience is quite different.
     
  4. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    Srs question - Is $11,000 a year salary considered to be good?

    I mean, I know you're not a math major Teger, but that's less than a part-time employee working at the McDonalds drive through makes.
     
  5. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    Srs question - Is $11,000 a year salary considered to be good?

    I mean, I know you're not a math major Teger, but that's less than a part-time employee working at the McDonalds drive through makes.


    It's better than paying tuition.
     
  6. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    Have you narrowed your focus to a fairly limited subject, even something that might fall across the English/History boundary? The MA would probably give you time to figure that out, but the people I knew who went straight for a PhD had a reasonably narrow focus from the beginning. That's a reasonable thought process. You're going to be pretty depressed if you are trying to get a faculty job within a particular city. There are probably only a handful of job openings a decade and the competition is national for those jobs. Whatever advantages you get within that market are pretty minimal compared to the limited market and limitations on seeking jobs elsewhere, which is probably what you'd have to do. Part of the difference is just between people who go for the masters first vs people who go straight for the PhD. I know humanity people take a LOT more classes and that the experience is quite different.
    Oh, when I talk about VCU/Richmond being a good networking opportunity, I'm not talking about for a faculty job, but for any job. Especially in relation to VT - VT is in the middle of nowhere. There's no "city", there's no industry, there's just the University. I don't have an inherent problem with living in an area like that, but if my goal isn't to go for the Ph.D (and hell, I don't know if that's definitely what it is at this point), than living someplace with actual business is a plus. Also, as with any large university, the number of well paying non-faculty jobs that are constantly available is pretty nice - hell, I know someone who just finished their MA in Film and is now working as an undergraduate adviser. Nice money, nice schedule (summers off!), great benefits, and it's a good stepping stone into something else. But once again, you need an MA in something to get any of these jobs. Edit: Also, about research interests. I do have a field of interest for both History and English, and at this point that's all you need. For example, for History I'd want to work in early 20th century American - but beyond that, only time can narrow it down. And Rambo: You can't look at it like a conventional job. It's more like financial aid through work study. And as Gibonious said, it's a hell of a lot better to have your tuition waived and be paid $11,000, than pay tuition, like most people in most MA programs do.
     
  7. TylerDurden

    TylerDurden Senior member

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    After taking a shit load of loans working for my 4 year BS degree, that im thinking of dropping out anyway, I'd say this is a no brainer.

    Go with the school that costs less, or the one that will pay you.


    Or do you just want to owe more money to people.
     
  8. Joenobody0

    Joenobody0 Senior member

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    Srs question - Is $11,000 a year salary considered to be good?

    I mean, I know you're not a math major Teger, but that's less than a part-time employee working at the McDonalds drive through makes.


    No it's not good, though it's not terrible for the humanities. Just as a data point, I'm starting a PhD next year. The funding is tuition + 33K for nine months + 6k over the summer. The money comes without teaching responsibilities.
     
  9. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    No it's not good, though it's not terrible for the humanities. Just as a data point, I'm starting a PhD next year. The funding is tuition + 33K for nine months + 6k over the summer. The money comes without teaching responsibilities.

    In what field?
     
  10. Joenobody0

    Joenobody0 Senior member

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    In what field?

    Operations Management. It's basically applied Microeconomics and Industrial Engineering. Far different than History or English!
     
  11. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    Operations Management. It's basically applied Microeconomics and Industrial Engineering. Far different than History or English!

    yea, I was gonna say. that much funding is basically unheard of in the humanities.
     
  12. Joenobody0

    Joenobody0 Senior member

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    yea, I was gonna say. that much funding is basically unheard of in the humanities.

    It's at the absolute upper end of my field too.
     
  13. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    It's at the absolute upper end of my field too.

    to give you an idea: the top phd programs I looked at were offering something like $15k a year. [​IMG]
     
  14. Joenobody0

    Joenobody0 Senior member

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    to give you an idea: the top phd programs I looked at were offering something like $15k a year. [​IMG]

    The first time I went into a PhD program the regular stipend was 17.5K a year in Berkeley Ca. That's like abject poverty! Luckily I was given a 2 year fellowship. After the fellowship ended I left for industry with my masters degree.
     
  15. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    im currently apartment shopping. will end up paying like ~450-500 a month in rent this time around.
     
  16. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    also, not to toot my own horn too hard, but it's amazing to me how difficult it is to get funding anywhere right now. i work in my school's english department (the place I just got in), so I'm familiar with the budgets, and they offer 2 people a year funding, and 20 people a year just pay to go. nuts. i don't know what anyone without supercompetitive grades/scores does...
     
  17. Joenobody0

    Joenobody0 Senior member

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    I agree with you regarding the competitiveness of admissions and funding. My program has something like a 2% acceptance rate.
     
  18. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    i have friends that ask me about applying, and i tell them if they have less than a 3.9 not to bother
     
  19. HomerJ

    HomerJ Senior member

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    to give you an idea: the top phd programs I looked at were offering something like $15k a year. [​IMG]
    Sheesh. To rub some salt in that, I had an undergraduate stipend of $6000 + housing + conference travel for a 10 week summer research program. Rather lavish considering my GRADUATE stipend the next YEAR was around $19k. [​IMG]
     
  20. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    Sheesh. To rub some salt in that, I had an undergraduate stipend of $6000 + housing + conference travel for a 10 week summer research program. Rather lavish considering my GRADUATE stipend the next YEAR was around $19k. [​IMG]
    i take some solace in the fact that all humanities students are equally underfunded. the thing is, if you think about it, it's an amazing deal for universities. if im teaching 2 classes a semester, they'd normally have to pay someone $6k a class to teach that.. they pay me almost nothing.
     

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