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KyleC's Achievements


Decaf (2/10)



  1. I have a PhD in media and cultural studies from the UW-Madison and I'm tenured in a communication department with a strong social science orientation. So yes, that's certainly possible, although the job market is in fact pretty terrible. In answer to some of your specific questions: To be strategic, the key is to be conversant with other comm scholars. You won't compete with folks trained in org or strat comm simply because that's their training -- they'll be better at it. But that's not what search committees are necessarily looking for, either -- what they want to see (from my experience serving on them) is that you can address their theoretical or methodological concerns intelligently. In my department, we have a tremendous strength in health comm, which isn't my field at all. But perhaps the best MA thesis I have supervised was in health comm. It also dealt with public sphere theory, which is much more my forte, but the two examiners were some of our health comm specialists. The reason that could work was that we all speak each other's language well enough, so to speak, to help my student succeed. Another useful strategy is to focus on a range of potential courses you can eventually teach. My specialty is theory, but I can also teach production. (Well, could, not so much any more.) I got my first on-campus interview because I had those skills, even if my theory is much better than my production. I know that in our past searches, we've been looking for people with quantitative method chops, in addition to specific areas of focus. Candidates with the area of focus and the ability to teach methods are rare, so a quantitative course could help you there. (Beyond that, I have colleagues in digital humanities who use their amazing quant skills to develop their humanities research. Their work is frequently groundbreaking, so a quant class might be something you find a way to use in your own research, too.) Definitely. That's how I got my current job. But be sure you're really good at your primary focus (film, I'm assuming) -- the challenge of some interdisciplinary work is that it has no center. If you're really good at film (or whatever it happens to be), but also pretty good at methods and, say, globalization, you'll have a strong case to make. The competition in English departments is beyond fierce. I'd pair up your topics differently -- Comm/Film and English. As for talking to your department, that depends on departmental culture, but when I was DGS, I would have welcomed your questions. They're exactly the ones PhD students should be posing as soon as they show up, if not before. Good luck! Kyle
  2. Hi -- I'm a prof, and I chair my department's admissions committee. In my experience (both where I am now and where I taught before) this: But it does seem that unlike psychology programs, many comm programs make their decisions without interview and based on the strength of your SOP and your experience. So while reaching out is good, since many comm programs seem to be committee based, and your POI might not be on the committee (none of mine were at any of my schools), it's also important to have an SOP that is clear about what you want to research and why the school is a good fit for you. The one program I reached out to, the POI told me they were very enthusiastic about working with me, but they weren't on the committee this year and could only let them know that if selected, they would be willing to advise me. is exactly right. With respect to whom you should ask to write rec letters, what we want to know (in my department at least) is whether you have the academic capacity and personal skills to be successful in our program, and almost without exception, academic references answer that question better than professional references. In most cases, employers haven't seen you in situations where you use the skills we value most. Which isn't to say that they have no value as references -- it's just that academic writers know what the admissions committee wants to see.
  3. I've replied to your message. Feel free to contact me at my university email address, too -- I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.
  4. I know this thread is a year old, and MarchAries is probably not looking for an answer any more, but on the off chance someone is interested in uOttawa's PhD program, I have a fair amount of insight -- I'm the DGS. Just thought I'd put that out there.
  5. I'm glad that was helpful. Another thing to think about, with respect to LSE -- as head of the department, Prof. Banet-Weiser is, I'm sure, terribly busy. Even if she carves out time for students, she won't have as much time as the profs at the UW. Beyond that, though, not going to LSE, as someone pointed out upthread, doesn't mean you couldn't work with her later, in some other capacity. And Madison might grow on you (and your spouse) -- never have I been as happy as I was there. Of course, not everyone had the same experience I did, and some of my friends had very bad experiences, but that's true everywhere. But for me, at least, it was the best place to be.
  6. My PhD is from Madison, and I work now in a department with several colleagues with PhDs from LSE. First of all, congratulations -- those are both top schools. In terms of the quality of education you'll receive at either place, it will be excellent. In your shoes, though, I'd go with Madison. As great as it is to have someone of Sarah Banet-Weiser's stature interested in your work (and that's fantastic), there's a danger, too, in choosing a school to work with one specific person. I've seen enough people do that only to discover that the match wasn't as good as they thought, but then they're stuck. Not to say that would happen to you, of course, but it's a risk worth considering. Add to that the question of cost and a job for your spouse. I left Madison pre-Scott Walker and the decimation of public employee unions, including the TAA. We had an excellent TA contract while I was there, and I imagine it's still a good contract, especially because it came with tuition remission. I got through my PhD loan-free, although it helped (a lot!) that my spouse had a job. We even bought a small house (which I miss a great deal). Many of our friends did, too. Not that I'd necessarily recommend it, but I did love that house. And my spouse had little trouble finding a job in Madison, which is small, but not that small. Dane County has half a million people -- San Francisco it is not, but there were more than a few married students in my cohort, and their spouses all found jobs they liked. (Mine administered federal grants in a state agency.) You didn't mention your spouse's line of work, but Madison has a wide range of industries (tech, non-profit, banking, medical), not to mention the state government -- the opportunities are greater than you might perceive. London certainly has its appeals, too, but it's not worth going into debt for, especially for a master's program. If you're looking for an academic job, keep in mind the market is very, very hard. I'm the DGS in my department (this is me, if you're curious), and I recommend to all our incoming students to think about what they'll do if an academic job doesn't pan out. (Sorry for being such a downer -- I've just seen a lot of people struggle, and it's hard.) Figuring out Plan B is a lot easier if your debt is limited -- you'll have a lot more freedom. Plus, to go back to the upsides of Madison, the comm arts department is incredibly strong. The people who teach there now are doing cutting-edge work, and the excitement of working with people pushing the boundaries is contagious -- if you let them, they'll push you, too. Everyone I know has supervised students doing things outside their area of expertise, and from a prof's point of view, that's fun -- students can push us, too. When that happens, as it certainly did for me at the UW, students find ways to become inventive and creative. So, my two cents worth. Good luck choosing!
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