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Graduate School in English MA or PhD??. Am I ready for grad school… …or do I need a break?  Do I feel totally burned out? Do I have the stamina to finish.

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Presentation on theme: "Graduate School in English MA or PhD??. Am I ready for grad school… …or do I need a break?  Do I feel totally burned out? Do I have the stamina to finish."— Presentation transcript:

1 Graduate School in English MA or PhD??

2 Am I ready for grad school… …or do I need a break?  Do I feel totally burned out? Do I have the stamina to finish an MA or PhD program?  Am I mature enough, persistent and self-directed enough right now for graduate study?  Are my finances in reasonable order and/or am I willing to take on more student loans?  Do I want travel or work experience before committing to grad school?  Other family/personal issues.

3 Reasons to do an MA first, rather than apply right to a PhD program  I really like literature, I just want to learn more about it.  I want to try the waters—I’m not sure if grad school in English and/or a career in academia is what I want.  My career aspirations (whether teaching or otherwise) can be met with an MA.  I don’t have an undergraduate major in English.  I want to fill the gaps in my undergrad course coverage before taking the GRE Subject Test and applying to PhD programs.  I want to improve my GPA before applying to PhD programs.

4 Do MA vs. PhD programs in English have different goals? Most English MA programs:  Aim to produce graduates with a Generalist’s proficiency in the field.  The MA graduate possesses knowledge in the field. Most English PhD programs:  Aim to produce graduates, who, in addition to possessing a Generalist’s proficiency, also are Specialists in one or two areas.  The PhD graduate both possesses knowledge in the field and has demonstrated s/he can create new knowledge, as a researcher.

5 Where can I teach with an MA vs. PhD in English? MA  Public or private High School, full-time.  Community Colleges, full or part-time (some CC have a tenure system, some do not)  College or University, as Non- Tenure-Track faculty. Mostly part-time and rarely, full-time. Mostly teaching freshman and sophomores. PhD  Full-time, Tenure-Track faculty at a College or University. Undergrad and grad courses, often in field related to specialty.  Note: Being an active researcher as well as a teacher (writing books and articles) is often required for the kinds of teaching jobs held by PhDs in English

6 OK, so I definitely want to go to grad school….

7 Coursework in English MA vs. PhD programs MA  1-2 yrs coursework  2 years average time to completion (Ranges 1-3 yrs) PhD  About 2 yrs coursework w/MA  About 3-4 yrs coursework w/o MA  7 yrs national average time to completion (Ranges yrs)

8 Exams in English MA vs. PhD programs MA  Proficiency in 0-1 foreign languages  May or may not require Comprehensive Exams PhD  Proficiency in 1-3 foreign languages  Comprehensive (Qualifying) Exams required; Field Exams required (number varies)

9 Capstone project in English MA vs. PhD programs MA  Thesis may or may not be required (~ pp)  Oral defense of prospectus may or may not be required  Oral defense of completed thesis may or may not be required  (Product of Learning may or may not substitute for Thesis for Ed. students) PhD  Dissertation required (~ pp)  Oral defense of prospectus may or may not be required  Oral defense of completed dissertation required

10 TA Opportunities in Various Programs MA (in depts. w/o PhD)  TAs may or may not teach composition, and less often, lit surveys.  Those programs that permit TAs to teach, generally have pedagogy classes w/practical emphases and formal mentoring programs  Some TAs assist faculty rather than have own courses Note: MA student in depts. that also offer the PhD, rarely get to teach PhD  TAs generally teach composition and often, after passing exams, lit surveys. Amount of teaching varies.  Pedagogy classes may be more theory than practically oriented; similarly, formal mentoring for TAs really varies from program to program  Some TAs assist faculty rather than have own courses (Or begin by TA-ing for faculty)

11 Funding opportunities for MA vs. PhD programs MA (in depts. w/o PhD)  Tuition remission  TA position  Federal student loans (subsidized and unsubsidized)  Note: MA students in programs that also offer the PhD rarely get tuition or TA positions PhD  Tuition remission  Stipend/Fellowship  TA position  Federal student loans (subsidized and unsubsidized)  Note: Think very carefully before attending a PhD program if they don’t offer you full tuition and preferably, a stipend as well. Especially at a private institution.

12 What do applications to English MA vs. PhD programs require? MA  Strong GPA in field  Substantial coursework in English  Take the GRE General test  Personal statement  Writing sample  Letters of recommendation PhD  Very strong GPA in field  Substantial and varied coursework in English  Take the GRE General Test  Take the GRE Subject Test in Literature (may vary)  Personal Statement  Writing sample  Letters of recommendation  Proficiency in or potential to demonstrate proficiency in required foreign languages

13 Note: In addition to writing ability, course grades and test scores, doctoral programs look for evidence of the following: 1.That you’ll actually finish the coursework and, importantly, the dissertation--tenacity and persistence 2.That you have promise as a researcher-- creativity and originality in thinking 3.That you can work in a self-directed manner– emotionally mature, sane, not needy.

14 If you’ve decided to do the MA first, some facts and trends… If the department also offers a doctoral program, MA students are little fish in a big pond. Often they:  Rarely get to teach.  Rarely get substantial financial aid.  May feel invisible, not part of the group, compared to the doctoral students.  May feel the faculty is less interested in them than in the doctoral students.  May experience great intellectual challenge and growth, since they are taking classes with more advanced doctoral students.  Benefit from the name recognition of being at more prestigious research institutions, taking classes with, and getting recommendations from “big deal” scholars. If the department does not offer the PhD, MA students are big fish in a little pond. Often they:  May not be as challenged in classes as they would be with more advanced peers.  Are treated as “top dog” and get lots of attention and nurturing from faculty (this can be good and bad)  May teach, and get teacher- training.  Get tuition remission and/or TA positions.

15 Other kinds of grad school for English majors: MFA Professional Writing Women’s Studies Comparative Literature African American Studies Film Studies Law School Journalism Programs Library school

16 Good luck! For more information: Talk to your professors Consult the other handouts Use the web, especially go to MLA.org and click on “resources”, then “guide to doctoral programs” Contact the grad advisor at programs you are interested in.


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