Presentation on theme: "GRADUATE SCHOOL APPLICATIONS. WHY APPLY? Before even beginning the application process, it’s important to be clear about why you want to go to graduate."— Presentation transcript:
GRADUATE SCHOOL APPLICATIONS
WHY APPLY? Before even beginning the application process, it’s important to be clear about why you want to go to graduate school. Do you have a burning question that you want to explore? Do you want a career in academia? Policy? Will the expertise that results from years of graduate study help you with your short and long-term career goals? Are you willing to forego years of potential income ?
WHAT KIND OF DEGREE IS APPROPRIATE? MA PhD JD MPH MBA
YOU’VE DECIDED TO APPLY… WHAT PROGRAMS? In the humanities and social sciences, the process by which you decide on which schools to apply to is markedly different from undergraduate. Rather than focusing on the overall ranking of the school – or in some cases, even the program – you need to focus on the group of professors that you’ll be working with. Graduate school - especially at the PhD level - is like an apprenticeship. You’re being trained in a particular specialization by a group of experts in that field. In order to figure out which professors and which programs will be the best “fit”, you need to develop a clear research program….
DEVELOPING A RESEARCH PROGRAM No one expects that you’ll know exactly what you want to write your dissertation on when you’re applying to a PhD program… What is expected is that you can articulate a general area of specialization and some research questions that you would like to focus on through the course of your graduate studies Ex: Colonial African History with a particular interest in the different ways in which Africans resisted colonial rule in Kenya in the 1940s and 1950s Ex: Modern Political Philosophy with a particular interest in the ways in which different philosophers have advocated for or against the use of force and how those arguments are implicated in current foreign policy.
YOU’VE DECIDED TO APPLY… NOW WHAT? Get organized: There are several components that virtually all schools/programs will require GRE/LSAT/MCAT Transcript(s) Personal Statement CV Letters of Recommendation (usually 2-3) Ask professors/recommenders early if they “would feel comfortable writing a letter” – once you’ve decided on which schools/programs you’ll be applying to, give them at least 2 weeks (preferably a month) notice plus a portfolio
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION There’s an important element of professionalism here: professors get an extraordinary number of requests for graduate school letters of rec. each year… Consequently, don’t tell the professor that you need the letter 48 hours before the application is due. Give them at least two weeks once you’ve decided the schools that you’ll be applying to When you ask for letters of rec – also give a portfolio that includes a copy of your transcript, your personal statement, a brief statement of what you want to research, and a list of the schools and professors you want to work with.
SOME KEY POINTS ABOUT FUNDING… Graduate school is expensive – at the PhD level, you should not be paying for the entirety of it. Practically, going into huge amounts of debt is not worth it. Symbolically, a department or other organization funding your graduate education is an important signalling device that someone else sees your intellectual development as worth investing in. Consequently – you need to make sure that you are applying for funding – either through the department or through other organization. Your professors and IHS will have good leads on where to find funding – don’t be afraid to ask!