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    Comm./Mass Comm./Media Studies

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  1. Help ranking programs by competitiveness

    Here's another resource, as the Shanghai Rankings now rank universities in Communication (as a social science): http://www.shanghairanking.com/Shanghairanking-Subject-Rankings/communication.html Note that this ranking is based primarily on number of journal articles published by faculty at the university, number of citations earned by those publications, and number of publications in the field's top journals. That means it is not so useful for evaluating departments that are more humanities-focused and/or privilege book publishing (which is unusual for the social science side of communication).
  2. Help ranking programs by competitiveness

    As for rankings, here's another: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2B25MzQ1IcJNTc3YWNRV3dGRGc/view?usp=sharing And just to give you insight into the program I know best, Ohio State, it's certainly a place where a quantitative political communication-oriented person can feel at home. We recruit outside communication quite a bit, so coming from sociology is no sweat. I graduated from a non-quantitative political science undergrad and got in. More of my cohort studied something other than communication prior to coming to OSU than did communication. We also have at least one faculty member who specializes in political discussion and deliberation and one other who focuses on online political communication. There are of course others whose research is related. With that said, it's quantitative or bust here...so if you just "lean" and want to do other methodological approaches, those other approaches may be less supported. I do have a focus group study in the publication pipeline, though, so it's not unheard of to do non-quant work.
  3. Help ranking programs by competitiveness

    From what I know and a little bit of education guessing, I'd rank these programs by difficulty of admission like this: -Penn Annenberg Communication [big gap] The following are all fairly similar and not put in any particular order, but all very selective: -Cornell Communication -Michigan Ann Arbor Communication Studies -University of Washington Communication -Ohio State Communication -Wisconsin Madison Mass Communications My impression is that Penn State is less selective than the above, but it is not uncommon for PSU admits to visit us at Ohio State and I know on at least a couple occasions they went to PSU. -Penn State Communication And then these two programs are not super selective, but not bad programs either. I agree with above poster to be wary of Illinois budget problems. I don't know what's up with Kansas's college funding, but I do know they can't pay their elementary school teachers. -Kansas Communication -University of Illinois Chicago Communication
  4. I'll play. FIRST - You as an applicant 1. What did you study in undergrad? Master's (if applicable)? B.A. in Political Science with minors and substantial coursework in Film Studies/Literature. We did not have a Communication program at my school. 2. What were your grades like in undergrad? Master's? I had a GPA in 3.7x range (sorry, can't remember where it was after the last semester's grades!). This was at a selective SLAC. 3. What are your research interests? Political communication, mass communication 4. What teaching experience did you have before applying? None 5. What about research experience? I did an Honors thesis as part of my undergraduate degree (~75 page research thesis) and had presented at some undergraduate-specific conferences, but otherwise nothing substantial. 6. What about miscellaneous experience (unrelated to Comm/corporate/private/etc)? I interned and freelanced at a local TV station. 7. How old are you (or, what is your age group)? I was 22 at the time. SECOND - Deciding to pursue a Ph.D. 1. What made you decide to pursue a Ph.D. in Communication? I have an academic's personality, I like geeking out, I like to have an excuse to think about these things non-stop. I admired my advisors in undergrad. 2. Did you contact faculty at the programs you were interested in? What did you say? How often did you communicate with these people (POIs)? I reached out to several POIs, not that I ever got the feeling that it was terribly useful. Best thing I got from it for the most part was confirming that these people would be around and advising students. I would email them and briefly describe my research interests and ask if I sounded like a fit and if they would be advising students in the upcoming year. I think I had a maximum of 2 replies with any of them, but for the most part just an initial email, a response from POI, and a thank you/acknowledgment from me. 3. Did you visit or contact graduate students? How did thaaaat go? No, unless you mean the official visit days. 4. How did you decide who to ask for letters of rec? Were they all professors or did you get letters from outside of academia? I chose the academics who knew me best. At the time I was doing this, I was still planning to be a Film Studies major (my college decided not to accept the proposed concentration in the English department, so I ultimately just double-minored), so one recommender was my longtime Film Studies advisor (she was a Prof in English). Another recommender was my Political Science advisor, who also chaired my Honors thesis committee (she was Prof in Political Science). The third person I asked was a Prof in Spanish, something unrelated to my undergrad program and research interests but who knew me well due to my extensive coursework with her. THIRD - Actually applying 1. How did you look for programs? Fairly exhaustive searching of so-called "communication" or "media studies" programs throughout. I also made a point to find out more about where the people whose work I was reading were located, which was a big factor in solidifying some of my choices. 2. How did you decide where to apply? I had a good sense of my fit at the programs at which I applied. I didn't put too many constraints on geographic location; I'm from a small town in the Midwest so there's not much that scares me...other than I may not have considered living in Florida, even if there were a program that interested me there...I can't handle those little lizards running around. Anyway, I focused on programs with good records of job placement, where there were faculty I admired, and funding was possible if I were to be admitted. 3. What was your biggest priority in a program? Full funding was a necessary requirement before anything else. After that, a mixture of fit and my perceived likelihood of job placement afterwards. I also had a fiance applying to programs in a different discipline who I hoped would get into some/any of the same places. 4. How many schools did you initially set out to apply to, and how many did you actually apply to? I didn't ever have a defined number, but I had letters, etc. sent to 9 schools. I ultimately did not apply to the 9th school because it was a funded MA-only program that I would only consider if I got in nowhere else (with funding). I got into a PhD program with funding before the deadline came for that MA-only program. 5. What were your GRE scores like (either specifics or vaguely)? How many times did you take it? Did you feel good about your scores? I took the GRE once and had V: 161, Q: 161, Writing: 5.0. I was confident that the scores didn't matter much. I knew they were fine, but I was sufficiently frustrated in the preparation for the test I actually sought help and ultimately (though after the test) found out that I had an undiagnosed learning disability. In that sense, I may have benefited from the GRE more than most! 6. How did you frame your experience/interests/fit in your statement of purpose? Did you focus on something more heavily than other stuff (like faculty or experience)? I cringe a little bit at the SOP now, but mainly for stylistic reasons. I was very verbose. But otherwise, I did a nice job in retrospect at starting off with an anecdote about an early academic experience and then moving into a clear narrative of my (fairly limited) experience and tying it all together as if it all was inevitably leading me to the application at hand. The nice thing about the narrative approach is that it allowed me to sell myself without it feeling too much like a sales pitch. It played up my lack of experience in some ways, but if I was applying now it would be a way to bring up my more substantial accomplishments without coming off like I'm arrogant; after all, it's just a part of my story, right? 7. Did you feel good about your applications? Why or why not? I'm an optimist and felt like things would work out. Each individual application stressed me, but overall I figured I'd end up someplace that I would be happy with. 8. If you knew then what you knew now, what advice would you give yourself? Don't work so close to deadlines if you value your happiness. FOURTH - GETTING IN (OR NOT) - feel free to update/answer later 1. How many programs did you get into (and which, if you don't mind sharing)? I was admitted to University of Illinois (Dept. of Comm., Urbana-Champaign), Ohio State, Wisconsin-Madison (Mass Comm.), Syracuse (MA program which is more separate from the PhD program than many other schools), and Colorado-Boulder. 2. How many were you waitlisted for? Did you make it off the waitlist? None. 3. How many were you rejected from? I was rejected from Penn-Annenberg, Northwestern, and University of Washington. 4. Did you get into your top program? Did you expect to get in? Penn-Annenberg was my top choice and I did not get in. My hopes were not high as it is almost certainly the most competitive program in our discipline and, well, I wasn't even from the discipline. 5. Did you receive funding? I had initial fellowship offers at Ohio State and Illinois with guaranteed TA/RA funding in the years after fellowship. It was/is clear in both cases that I would not have to go into debt to go to those schools. Funding was unsettled but unlikely at Syracuse, largely covered at Colorado but with more uncertainty than I would have liked, and things at Wisconsin-Madison were still in flux by the time I told them I'd made a decision. 6. Once you've made your decision...how did you decide which school to attend? The visits were important, but ultimately the choice was very clear. While I was assured at Illinois that the transition from MA to PhD was seamless, I was accepted directly into the PhD program at Ohio State. The funding was more generous and fellowship longer at OSU. I was uncomfortable with the quantitative-empirical focus of OSU compared to the generalist program at UIllinois and Illinois's visit weekend was fabulous and I instantly grew attached to the people and campus there. But those aforementioned things about OSU *and* the fact my fiance got in at OSU made it a no-brainer that I would be headed to Columbus. 7. If you didn't get admitted to a program, will you apply again? N/A 8. What do you want to do with your Ph.D.? I plan to seek academic (professorial) positions. FINALLY 1. In retrospect...what was the best part of the application process? I don't really know since it takes so much effort, perhaps more than should be needed. Getting good news and having the luxury of having multiple "right" choices was niceā€”it's good to feel wanted, you know? 2. What was the worst? The immense effort, as mentioned, is a bummer and taxing. It was also heartbreaking to say no to my second choice school and while I'm as happy as can be at my new place, I still think about what could have been though that probably would be the case no matter which choice I made. 3. What advice do you have for future applicants? Don't waste your time with programs that don't have excellent track records of job placement. Don't assume that a lack of formal qualifications is important...I had no MA, no coursework in Comm., no publications, no scientific training, just a demonstrated interest in the field and a track record of success with tough academic work, albeit in another area. I was able to state a compelling case for why I should be a communication researcher that really played up my sparse record and that was apparently enough to overcome the fact that many others may have had publications, more specialized/relevant training, and so on. And if my qualifications were even more bare, I'd still shoot for top programs again because you can only get one PhD and you want to finish it with a chance to get the kind of job you want, which in my case is a research-focused academic one and not surprisingly the kind for which there is most competition.
  5. how much does program prestige matter?

    Communication is a highly heterogeneous field for the social sciences; enough so that many self-described "communication" programs might take issue with the claim that they are social scientists (instead affiliating with the humanities). This makes some aspects of cross-program comparisons difficult. For instance, my program often ranks at or near the top of lists of programs with the most-cited faculty members. On one hand, that's because it's a great program! On the other, there are other great programs that won't rank or anywhere near mine by that sort of metric. Why? Well, my program is strongly rooted in the quantitative empirical tradition, mostly inheriting its approach from social psychology (just one of several important intellectual forebears of our field). This way of doing things lends itself to a large number of publications. Other subfields are more focused on publishing book-length manuscripts or using methods that preclude anyone publishing 5-15 papers each year in reputable outlets. Unlike some other fields for which outlets like US News and World Report has an influential ranking, there are no "official" program rankings in communication that many in the field would ever bother to look at. That means there is probably considerable disagreement about which programs are best and it is something particularly vulnerable to the subfield of the beholder. Still, I would assert that there's a boost that goes along with program prestige. It is one thing among several that will get your application a second look. But of course program prestige is confounded with many other things. The more prestigious programs tend to support their students better in terms of stipends, health benefits, and so on, so all else being equal they could be preferred by an applicant on those grounds. Further, due to their prestige they are better able to choose from the best applicants (who like anyone else must be developed into scholars), so they get a head start in that way as well. These programs also tend to have more research resources, which enables their faculty to maintain their own standing in the field and also allows graduate students to become involved in and perhaps lead influential research that simply couldn't be done in places without the means. Again, that is somewhat subfield-specific; a rhetorician probably doesn't need eye-tracking equipment or a big budget for representative surveys. Last, when hitting the job market grad students from these programs have recommendations from influential faculty members who will be known to and respected by hiring committees. So all of the above mostly comes independent of good training, which can be provided by people who aren't "famous" in their field or endowed with all the resources to publish high-impact research. Some of this then depends on your career goals. Many of the benefits of being in a prestigious program are useful only to those hoping to stay within academia. Becoming a competent professional doesn't require some of those things. Communication is a bit more egalitarian than some other fields, due in part to its youth as a field and its healthy job market, but it's still relatively rare to see graduates "move up" in terms of prestige when comparing their PhD-issuing institution and their hiring institution. Some of this may be due to pure prestige, some may be due to those other factors I outlined which just happen to co-occur with program prestige. My advice is to focus on job placement. A program that can't furnish detailed job placement information about all of its graduates should be viewed with suspicion. And when they give you that job placement information, look at it. Think about the median job placement in the program. Does that sound good to you? You should also poke around about retention and time to degree. If a program meticulously pushes out students who are unlikely to get a job, it may give false confidence about your own prospects. And if you are going to wait 10 years to get your PhD, the opportunity cost might be too much.
  6. I do wonder how much the outlook would change if something as simple (and somewhat unpredictable) as a run of election wins by Ds happened. We had two big things happen that hammered the academic job market - the 2008/9 recession and, on the back of that, a tidal wave of funding cuts to public universities. While the worst of the economic problems are over in the US, there is still a great deal of belt-tightening sentiment out there. Politics will dictate academic hiring just as much as economic trends - not that those two things are wholly independent. There are, of course, other things that make simple predictions more difficult. Some foresee a college bubble of sorts due to the costs and massive debts; what effects would a "burst" have? Maybe schools would cut back on the enormous administration budgets, but I suspect they might rather cut programs and/or instructor salaries. Another issue with the sagging job markets is that it takes more than just a good year to fix the problem. If PhD production is going up, we have already built in the need for the job market (in # of jobs) to increase each year. The bigger problem is that, by and large, the people that lose on the job market don't typically just go away. Every year where there is a gap between job seekers and job winners, the pool of job seekers for the following year gets even bigger. Some will finally give up the search, but my guess is that the most realistic chance for a relatively quick improvement for the job market is a reduction in PhDs. And I think many being painted as pessimists here would see that as a good thing - the institution that lets people entertain this dream while simultaneously preventing it from being realistic can just as quickly bring stability to the market...but, of course, do they have incentive to do that?
  7. Try to find out the academic employment rate of the programs of interest. That is, what percentage of recent graduates get hired for teaching/research positions in your field? More importantly, find out what percentage get tenure-track positions. There are all kinds of nice things to look for in a program, but it's wasted if they can't get you a job at the end. That doesn't mean you should - for example - take an unfunded offer because of a single metric, but that is one of the best indicators of how "good" the program is. Likewise, you'll want to ensure that the faculty at the program are making a scholarly impact, etc. You want your recommendations to carry some weight when you hit the job market, not to mention be able to jump onto interesting research projects that get your own name out there while you are still studying. In the end, we all have our own individual probabilities and priorities. For instance, if my spouse made a bunch of money, I would probably have looked at the process differently. If I had kids, likewise. There are lots of examples..
  8. The link in the OP has a bad character at the end. Try this one and it should work.
  9. Columbus, OH

    Living near the Olentangy Trail would be a smart thing to do, then. The trail runs along the river of the same name and is designed specifically for bicyclists. It runs right through campus. You could live north or south of campus so long as you have easy access to the trail. From there, it's just a matter of what biking distances are comfortable to you. Otherwise, the areas immediately north and south of campus would be decent places to live. East of campus is a little higher crime, though I'm sure some people have had success in that area. West of campus will feel a little more like a suburb, cost a little more, and likely be a fair distance from the locations on campus where you'll be going. Neighborhood names to keep in mind would be Victorian Village, Harrison West, Olde North, Clintonville, and the Short North.
  10. Congrats! Let me know if you have questions about the program.
  11. Not necessarily, but it is at the communication program at OSU. The DGS typically wants a slightly tweaked SoP for the fellowship competition and at any rate likes to share information when she has it. My experience tells me that you should feel very good about your chances @ OSU.
  12. The tricky thing is that most of you have relatively poor odds of getting into any particular school, but you have good odds of getting into one of the several schools. It makes sense statistically, but it's hard to really grasp when you have so much riding on it.
  13. I'm not applying this year (hallelujah for that), but the thing that angered me the most was the fact that some schools do not have a means for letter writers to submit until you have completed and submitted your application. That means you have to be done with plenty of time for your letter writers to forget, struggle with the interface, etc. Upon realizing that when I was applying, I nearly just withdrew my application because I hadn't given myself enough time to account for that. I buckled down and got it in with just a day or two of notice and luckily enough all those letters found their way. It's a good thing, since I now go to that school! Crazy to think how easily I could have just quit because of frustration with the admissions process.
  14. I have a feeling you're going to have a fun set of choices come decision-time. Let me know if you have any questions about OSU! I applied to all on your "for sure" list last cycle.
  15. Worried about tenure-track jobs?

    A couple more links... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-schmitt/communication-studies-ris_b_6025038.html http://www.natcom.org/uploadedFiles/More_Scholarly_Resources/2013%20Jobs%20Update%20Report%20Final.pdf One interesting stat, to me - there were more BA degrees awarded in Comm. than English, which is traditionally one of the single most popular disciplines outside of the hard sciences. While there are just as many, if not more, students interested in communication, there are half as many faculty members in communication than English. The jobs will keep coming.