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Glasperlenspieler last won the day on August 25

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  1. Honestly, with those numbers your best bet is probably to apply for (funded) MA programs. Because there are so many strong applicants, you will likely have a very hard time getting admitted to a PhD program, even if all of your application materials are stellar. However, admissions committees are more apt to forgive a less than stellar undergraduate records if you have completed an MA with high marks and good letters of recommendation. It won't necessarily reset your numbers, but I do think it would give you a much stronger chance. It's increasingly common to earn an MA at another institution before moving on to the PhD and is a good way to develop the skills necessary for success. You would also probably benefit from a GRE prep course, or at least a study book. To some degree high test scores can mitigate the impact of a low GPA (though not entirely). But if you have both a low GRE and a low GPA, your application is unlikely to get a close look. Finally, it may be important to address your grades in your statement of purpose. If you can provide some explanation for why they are low, that might cause an admissions committee to be more generous in reading your application. You need to be careful here though. Explaining your grades doesn't mean giving excuses. You still need to demonstrate that you take responsibility for them. A "woe is me" narrative is unlikely to be read sympathetically be an admissions committee.
  2. Certainly! Academia is a land of nepotism (and is pretty incestuous too boot, in more ways than one). If your letter writer is friends with someone on they admissions committee, they might be more disposed to give credence to the what is said in the letter. This works both ways though too. If someone on the admissions committee has a personal or professional beef with your letter writer, they might be less kindly disposed toward your application (whether they intend to or not). Furthermore, I've heard of big name professors who are so exaggeratedly enthusiastic in their letter of recommendation that they've earned a reputation for this and admissions committees do not take their letters as seriously anymore. tldr: It can help but could also hurt in some cases. However, you probably don't have a good enough grasp of the social dynamics at play to predict these things. So don't worry about it and focus on what you can control.
  3. Something like this used to be the case in the US and to some extent still is, but I'd say it's more like a spectrum and one with lots of variation. Comp Lit departments are changing too (when they're not just disappearing). In many cases, they're increasingly home to scholars of non-Western literatures that may not have a place on campus otherwise. English departments are also becoming more theoretical and interdisciplinary in many cases and less tied to the traditional canon (though there are still old-school programs). One way to get a feel for this is course requirements. A stricter set of distribution requirements will often indicate a more traditional program. As a matter of good scholarly practice, it's usually frowned to engage with your primary material only in translation, which holds true throughout the humanities (though you may still provide translations in your scholarship depending on your audience. An exception may be made for theory but even then its better to have a basic reading knowledge of the original to understand terminological issues). Most English departments, however, do have a foreign language requirement and would welcome your ability to work in multiple languages. However, if the majority of your primary texts are non-Anglophone, you might not fit will in an English department. But if you want to work primarily with Anglophone media and occasionally incorporate non-Anglophone texts by way of comparison, that could certainly be done in the right English department. None of this is to say you should go to an English department, but I wouldn't rule out that possibility to quickly. And it's also good to be aware of the potential pitfalls related to comparative literature programs.
  4. A writing sample is (at least in part) meant to gauge a person's ability to produce high quality seminar papers once admitted to the program. Seminar papers, in turn, are designed to prepare students to write articles that could be potentially published in a high quality academic journal (of course most seminar papers don't attain that standard, which is perfectly normal). So, your best bet is to pick up a couple recent issues of major academic journals in your field. The closer your writing sample can come to approximating that, the more likely you are to be successful. Again, most writing sample won't be publishable, but if you can demonstrate a familiarity with the rhetorical, argumentative, and stylistic features of your field, it will put you in a good position. (NB: all the mimicry of professional standards in the world won't make up for the lack of a compelling, interesting, plausible, and well-argued for idea.)
  5. Two questions that should help you get better responses: 1) What's your end goal? Would like to obtain an academic position in the US or would you rather go back to your home country following your PhD? If it's the former you should know that there are very few jobs in Comparative Literature departments. This isn't to say you should't enter such a program, but you should be aware that if you do, your best chances for a job are apt to be in national literature departments. Which leads to my next question.... 2) What languages do you work in and what in what languages are the works of literature/film/media you would like to research? If you're primarily interested in anglophone literature/media, it may make sense to look at English departments. Many (though not all) English departments have strengths in and advocate interdisciplinary methods and engaging with theoretical perspectives like ecocriticism. Same goes for German, French, etc. departments. So just because you do interdisciplinary/theoretical work, doesn't mean you couldn't have a place in a more traditional department.
  6. First of all, I wasn't really surprised by anything in this article. If this comes as a shock, then you probably aren't paying enough attention. If by 'commendable' you mean 'deserving praise' then I don't think that a graduate program doing a minimal amount of work to support their graduate students should count as commendable so much as the bare minimum for qualifying as a ethically responsible program (which is not to deny that many programs fail to meet this bar). I'm not as familiar with Kramnick and Cassuto as @wordstew is, but this point by Cassuto strikes me as a bullshit excuse for not doing anything: "But limiting enrollment can present its own problems, said Leonard Cassuto, a professor of English at Fordham University who writes about graduate education for The Chronicle’s Advice section. If colleges trained only enough graduate students to replace retiring faculty members, you’d lose out on all kinds of racial, socioeconomic, and intellectual diversity, he said, and “I don’t think anybody wants that.” " First, he seems to assume that minorities and individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are weaker applicants, who would not be accepted were programs to accept fewer students. Furthermore, it suggests that even if that were the case, departments wouldn't or couldn't do anything to correct for these concerns. I'm not really sure why we should accept either of these concerns. (This isn't to deny that discrimination occurs in the admissions process. I just doubt that reducing the number of admitted students would necessarily make that situation any worse). I think the refusal to take seriously the idea that cohort sizes need to be reduced in the humanities is either naivete or willful blindness and both are irresponsible. Likewise, the failure of programs to provide complete placement information on their websites is dishonest, deceptive, and unacceptable (but also very common). Any program that doesn't (minimally) address these two issues is responsible to perpetuating this system.
  7. Depends on the university. Some universities only allow you to apply to one program per year (this is the case for Stanford and Princeton, I believe). Other universities have no restrictions. It sort of depends on how much overlap there is between the two departments. It's quite possible (or even likely) that the admissions committees of the two programs consist of entirely different individuals. In this case, submitting the same writing sample (assuming it's applicable to both) wouldn't seem to pose any issue, and it's not clear to me that it would be an issue even if there was some overlap. While I don't generally think emailing professors is particularly important in the admissions process, I do think this is a situation where it makes sense. You could email the professors you are interested in working with and ask them if they think applying to both programs would make sense and, if not, which program would be more applicable to your research. I did this for one university when I was applying and got a very nice email back. Of course, I didn't end up getting accepted there, so ymmv. Generally though, if there's no restriction on doing so, I don't think it hurts to apply to multiple departments as long as they are both relevant to you.
  8. It may not matter to you, but it does matter to the department. Typically when someone gets a tuition waiver, that doesn't mean the tuition is written off by the university. Rather, it means the tuition is counted as an expense for the department rather than for the student (but then the university will often fund the department in accordance with how many grad students they have, among other things. It's a very strange system). So, if you fail to obtain in-state residency in a timely manner, it will cost the department extra money/mean that they have less expendable income to admit more students or spend on other things. I obviously can't speak for every department, but in my department, your tuition will still be waived if you don't obtain residency (foreign nationals, for instance, typically aren't eligible for in-state residency) but if you could obtain it and haven't, the departmental administrator will certainly be on you ass about it. You should certainly get clarification on the funding package, but it's probably not super necessary until you've been accepted. In this case though, I guess it wouldn't hurt to shoot them a quick email asking them to clarify whether tuition is waived since it doesn't explicitly say so on the website.
  9. If you look at the CVs of professors who got their PhDs 15-25 years ago, you'll see that at one time it was not at all uncommon to spend 8-10 years in a PhD program. To a large degree that's changed. Programs often emphasize a lot time-to-degree and universities are increasingly putting hard limits on how long a PhD student can stay matriculated. There are however some programs that are more "old school" in this respect. Generally, I'd say that's a bad thing. 5 years is probably a little optimistic in many cases but I'd say a program that can't get most students through in 6-6.5 years is probably doing something wrong (I'm talking literature here. History is often going to be longer and I think rhet/comp is often shorter but that's not really my field). Things you should look at: 1. Coursework requirements: How many courses do you take and when. I visited on program where students reported struggling to complete coursework in 3 years. If course work and exams aren't done til year four and then you have to write a dissertation, well you can do the math... I ended up picking a program where coursework was done in 2 years. 2. Teaching requirements: Same program as above had students teaching 2 courses in the fall and 1 in spring. Granted it was two sections of the same course, but still that's time away from coursework, exam prep, dissertation etc. 3. Funding: You want good funding, but to a certain degree, I'd almost prefer a program that has 5 or 6 years of guaranteed funding and then avenues to secure funding after that if you need it rather than a program that guarantees 7 years (this is again coming from an anecdote). The former suggests to me a desire to get students to complete in time even if you'll support those who don't while the latter communicates an expectation that it will likely take that long. (This is probably my most contentious point and to be taken with a grain of salt, but I still think there's something to it). NB: If those are university statistics, they will likely include AWOL students that are technically still enrolled (though some programs don't allow that) and students have a lecturer position somewhere else without having finished their dissertation, and maybe even students who took a leave of absence (though I would hope not). Of course, a few of those won't affect a median too much... Final thought: With the job market being what it is, I think it's increasingly common for people to spend an extra year polishing their dissertations in order to get an extra year on the job market. This will obviously drive up median time-to-degree as well. Also, I've noticed people in my field who took a long time to get their PhD who nonetheless graduated and got an R1 TT position. So it's not necessarily a bad thing but it's also something I knew I didn't want when I was looking at programs and I made decisions accordingly.
  10. Eh... This is obviously hard to say for sure and will vary a lot from program to program (and advisor to advisor), but I suspect that especially top tier programs (even if they pay lip service to alt-ac careers) look down upon people seeking careers outside of academia. That's not to say you won't find resources to pursue those careers at those universities, but I might be slightly hesitant about expressing though wishes too loudly too early in your program. Despite all the talk about the life of the mind and what not, PhD programs in the humanities should still largely be understood as a very peculiar form of vocational training. To the OP: I applied to PhD programs with the intent of eventually becoming a professor and by and large maintain that goal (despite some doubts and a desire to keep my eyes open for alternatives). But I don't think I mentioned that desire once in my SOP and I don't think there's really a need to. Instead, I wrote about my research goals and interests, why I thought they were worth pursuing, what skills I had to do that research, and why I thought that particular program made sense for pursuing that research. People reading your SOP will likely assume you want to pursue an academic career (mostly because they are so thoroughly ingrained in academia that alternatives won't occur to them) but so what. You're not deceiving them, they're just reading into it what they want to. For the sake of PhD applications, I think there's at least some risk of expressing a desire for alt-ac careers, and since there's no real reason to talk about your career goals in an SOP, don't do it. If and when you get accepted, you should certainly go through graduate school with an eye towards generating the best chances of getting a job outside of academia and take advantage of all the resources the university has to support that. At some point, you will need to have a conversation with your advisor about career plans, but that's not going to happen until at least a couple years into the program. All that being said, you should take very seriously @EM51413's last point. I think a PhD can certainly be a valuable fulfilling experience even if you don't want to be in academia, but it's also a lot of work, stress, academic politics, and time spent when you could be jumpstarting an non-academic career. And if it's not going to be directly career-relevant to you, don't take that decision lightly.
  11. This is great advice! I'd also add: if you find scholars who match your profile, look at both the bibliographies of their articles/books and (what is sometimes even more enlightening) the acknowledgements pages in their books. This is not only a great way to discover relevant scholars who you were not aware of, it also allows you to get a sense of the academic/discourse communities that these scholars are a part of and start thinking about how you see yourself potentially fitting in these networks.
  12. I'm pretty sympathetic to @WildeThing's account here. I guess my question is what's the goal in getting a PhD here? If the goal is to eventually obtain a TT position at 4-year college and university, then I don't think a low-res program is going to do you much good. The job marked it notoriously difficult and with literally hundreds of applications for a position, they're looking for reasons not to hire you. In that sort of a situation, a distance PhD is apt to be immediately disqualifying. If you like your current position and hope to stay there, then I guess my question is why do you need a PhD? If you just want the letters next to your name, then sure, a low-res program might be a reasonable option (though I think you risk burnout working full time AND doing a PhD program, if you're going to take it seriously). If there's an associated pay raise at your current position with a higher degree of education, then I guess I'm more sympathetic to this approach, just make sure you don't go into debt for it and the quality of life exchanges really make sense for you. (To piggy back on one suggestion though, a European PhD might be something to think about. European PhD's typically assume you already have a masters, last only 3 years, and essentially consist only of writing a dissertation, so most of that could be done remotely).
  13. Good to know @illcounsel! I stand corrected, I guess. Thanks for the info.
  14. I don't know too much about Canadian universities, but generally I'd say it's hard to get MA funding at a program that also offers a PhD. If you're competing for funding with PhD students as an MA student you're typically going to lose out. Most funded MAs that I'm aware of (in the US) are at programs where an MA is the highest degree awarded. As a result, MA students can get funding through TA/RAships because there aren't PhD students to take those positions. But there may of course be exceptions to this.
  15. What's the end goal here? Reading between the lines, my sense is that you're (potentially) interested in pursuing a PhD in literature. Is that right? If so, an a literature focused MA could certainly improve your odds with regards to PhD admissions and if you're not yet sure that this is a path you'd like to pursue, it could be a good way to test the waters. That being said, I wouldn't totally write off the idea of applying to PhD programs now. Depending on your exact situation a good strategy could be to apply to some MA and some PhD programs and see where the cards fall. NB: If your goal is an academic career, you will at some point have to look beyond geography in terms of where you would like to study/teach/work. If you won't take on any debt, then doing an MA so that you can live in a particular city might be a fine life choice, but if an academic career is your goal (and even if it's not), you should certainly also be thinking about whether that degree will advance your professional goals or not.
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