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TheHessianHistorian

Where Top-Tier PhD Students Got Their BA/MA

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As I have been investigating the biographies of PhD students in top tier history programs, I have been compiling a spreadsheet of where each student received his/her undergraduate degree(s) and Master's degree(s). There has been a bit of discussion in this forum lately about the importance of "Master's degree prestige" in applying to top tier PhD programs, so I hope this list is helpful to other users:

University of Chicago

44 history grad students list their pre-PhD degrees on their Chicago webpages

40 came into the PhD program with a Bachelor's and Master's degree; 4 only had a Bachelor's degree

Most common MA institutions for Chicago PhD students:

  1. University of Chicago - 16
  2. University of Edinburgh - 2
  3. University of Oregon - 2
  4. Catholic University of America - 1
  5. Charles University in Prague - 1
  6. Clemson University - 1
  7. Columbia University - 1
  8. Harvard Law School - 1
  9. Hebrew University of Jerusalem - 1
  10. Indiana University - 1
  11. Johns Hopkins University - 1
  12. New York University - 1
  13. Northeastern Illinois University - 1
  14. Northern Illinois University - 1
  15. Oxford University - 1
  16. Portland State University - 1
  17. San Diego State University - 1
  18. Seoul National University - 1
  19. Universite Paris VIII - 1
  20. University of California, Irvine - 1
  21. University of Nebraska, Lincoln - 1
  22. Vanderbilt University - 1
  23. Yale Law School - 1

Most common BA institutions for Chicago PhD students:

  1. University of California, Berkeley - 5
  2. Johns Hopkins University - 3
  3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor - 3
  4. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign - 2
  5. Washington University in St. Louis - 2
  6. Boston University - 1
  7. Brown University - 1
  8. Charles University in Prague - 1
  9. Claremont McKenna College - 1
  10. DePaul University - 1
  11. Eastern Oregon University - 1
  12. Hebrew University of Jerusalem - 1
  13. Indiana University, Bloomington - 1
  14. Lahore University of Management Sciences - 1
  15. New York University - 1
  16. Ohio State University - 1
  17. Oxford University - 1
  18. Princeton University - 1
  19. Saint Joseph's College - 1
  20. Salem College - 1
  21. Sarah Lawrence College - 1
  22. Seoul National University - 1
  23. Southern Oregon University - 1
  24. Universite Nancy II - 1
  25. University of British Columbia - 1
  26. University of California, Los Angeles - 1
  27. University of California, San Diego - 1
  28. University of California, Santa Barbara - 1
  29. University of Georgia - 1
  30. University of Nebraska, Lincoln - 1
  31. University of Nebraska, Omaha - 1
  32. University of New Mexico - 1
  33. University of San Francisco - 1
  34. Utah State University - 1
  35. Wesleyan University - 1
  36. Yale University - 1

Columbia University

96 history grad students list their pre-PhD degrees on their Columbia webpages

63 came into the PhD program with a Bachelor's and Master's degree; 33 only had a Bachelor's degree

Most common MA institutions for Columbia PhD students:

  1. Columbia University - 9
  2. Oxford University - 5
  3. Cambridge University - 4
  4. New York University - 3
  5. Bogazici University, Istanbul - 2
  6. Fordham University - 2
  7. University of Chicago - 2
  8. American University in Cairo - 1
  9. Beijing Foreign Studies University - 1
  10. Brown University - 1
  11. Central European University - 1
  12. Chinese University of Hong Kong - 1
  13. Complutense University of Madrid - 1
  14. El Colegio de Mexico - 1
  15. Erasmus Mundus European Masters in Migration and Intercultural Relations program - 1
  16. Free University of Berlin - 1
  17. Georgetown University - 1
  18. Hong Kong University - 1
  19. Jewish Theological Seminary - 1
  20. London School of Economics - 1
  21. National Taiwan University - 1
  22. National University of Lujan - 1
  23. National University of Singapore - 1
  24. Old Dominion University - 1
  25. Sarah Lawrence College - 1
  26. Stanford University - 1
  27. Syracuse University - 1
  28. Tel Aviv University - 1
  29. Tufts University - 1
  30. University of Amsterdam - 1
  31. University of California, Berkeley - 1
  32. University of Maroua - 1
  33. University of Michigan - 1
  34. University of Notre Dame - 1
  35. University of Roehampton in London - 1
  36. University of Texas, Austin - 1
  37. University of Tokyo - 1
  38. University of Virginia - 1
  39. University of Zurich, Switzerland - 1
  40. Warsaw University - 1
  41. Wheaton College - 1
  42. Yale Law School - 1
  43. York University - 1

Most common BA institutions for Columbia PhD students:

  1. Harvard College - 6
  2. Columbia University - 4
  3. Princeton University - 4
  4. University of California, Berkeley - 4
  5. University of Chicago - 4
  6. Yale University - 4
  7. Barnard College - 3
  8. New York University - 3
  9. Tel Aviv University - 3
  10. Amherst College - 2
  11. Bogazici University, Istanbul - 2
  12. Cambridge University - 2
  13. Cornell University - 2
  14. Duke University - 2
  15. Georgetown University - 2
  16. McGill University - 2
  17. Reed College - 2
  18. Amsterdam University College - 1
  19. Baylor University - 1
  20. Beijing Foreign Studies University - 1
  21. Bowdoin College - 1
  22. Brandeis University - 1
  23. Carleton College - 1
  24. Chinese University of Hong Kong - 1
  25. Colgate University - 1
  26. College of William and Mary - 1
  27. Concordia University in Montreal - 1
  28. Dartmouth College - 1
  29. Drake University - 2
  30. Fairfield University - 1
  31. Franklin & Marshall College - 1
  32. Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva - 1
  33. Hebrew University of Virginia - 1
  34. Lewis and Clark College - 1
  35. London School of Economics - 1
  36. National Autonomous University of Mexico - 1
  37. National Taiwan University - 1
  38. National University of Singapore - 1
  39. Northwestern University - 1
  40. Oxford University - 1
  41. Peking University - 1
  42. Pomona College - 1
  43. Sarah Lawrence College - 1
  44. Stanford University - 1
  45. Truman State University - 1
  46. United States Military Academy at West Point - 1
  47. University College Utrecht - 1
  48. University of California, Los Angeles - 1
  49. University of Michigan - 1
  50. University of Mississippi - 1
  51. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - 1
  52. University of Notre Dame - 1
  53. University of Pennsylvania - 1
  54. University of Texas, Austin - 1
  55. University of Tokyo - 1
  56. University of Wisconsin, Madison - 1
  57. University of Zurich, Switzerland - 1
  58. Warsaw University - 1
  59. Wesleyan University - 1
  60. Williams College - 1
  61. Yonsei University - 1
  62. York University - 1
  63. Washington University in St. Louis - 1

Harvard University

78 history grad students list their pre-PhD degrees on their Harvard webpages

50 came into the PhD program with a Bachelor's and Master's degree; 28 only had a Bachelor's degree

Most common MA institutions for Harvard PhD students:

  1. Harvard University - 14
  2. Cambridge University - 7
  3. Oxford University - 3
  4. Yale University - 2
  5. Central European University - 1
  6. Columbia University - 1
  7. Florida Atlantic University - 1
  8. Florida International University - 1
  9. Harvard Divinity School - 1
  10. Indiana University - 1
  11. Jadavpur University - 1
  12. King's College, London - 1
  13. London School of Economics - 1
  14. National Taiwan University - 1
  15. Peking University - 1
  16. Princeton University - 1
  17. School of Oriental and African Studies - 1
  18. Stanford University - 1
  19. Sydney Law School - 1
  20. University de Paris I - 1
  21. University of California, Los Angeles - 1
  22. University of Chicago - 1
  23. University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign - 1
  24. University of Texas, Austin - 1
  25. University of Tokyo - 1
  26. University of Virginia - 1
  27. University of York - 1
  28. Vanderbilt University - 1

Most common BA institutions for Harvard PhD students:

  1. Columbia University - 5
  2. University of Chicago - 4
  3. University of Michigan - 4
  4. Yale University - 4
  5. Brown University - 3
  6. Harvard University - 3
  7. University of Pennsylvania - 3
  8. Amherst College - 2
  9. College of William and Mary - 2
  10. Grinnell College - 2
  11. Princeton University - 2
  12. University of California, Berkeley - 2
  13. University of Virginia - 2
  14. Washington University in St. Louis - 2
  15. Williams College - 2
  16. Adams State University - 1
  17. Arizona State University - 1
  18. Boise State University - 1
  19. Bowdoin College - 1
  20. Brandeis University - 1
  21. Brigham Young University - 1
  22. Carleton College - 1
  23. Colby College - 1
  24. Emory University - 1
  25. Florida Atlantic University - 1
  26. Fudan University - 1
  27. Indiana University - 1
  28. Jadavpur University - 1
  29. King's College, London - 1
  30. Lewis and Clark College - 1
  31. Lomonosov Moscow State University - 1
  32. McGill University - 1
  33. Middlebury College - 1
  34. Millsaps College - 1
  35. National Taiwan University - 1
  36. New York University - 1
  37. Occidental College - 1
  38. Oxford University - 1
  39. Peking University - 1
  40. Pomona College - 1
  41. Stanford University - 1
  42. State University of New York, New Paltz - 1
  43. Swarthmore College - 1
  44. Tufts University - 1
  45. University of California, Santa Cruz - 1
  46. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign - 1
  47. University of Rochester - 1
  48. University of St. Andrews - 1
  49. University of Sydney - 1
  50. University of Texas, Austin - 1
  51. University of Zurich - 1
  52. Vanderbilt University - 1

Princeton University

97 history grad students list their pre-PhD degrees on their Princeton webpages

68 came into the PhD program with a Bachelor's and Master's degree; 29 only had a Bachelor's degree

Most common MA institutions for Princeton PhD students:

  1. Oxford University - 10
  2. Cambridge University - 7
  3. Princeton University - 6
  4. Columbia University - 4
  5. Yale University - 3
  6. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - 2
  7. King's College, London - 2
  8. Leiden University - 2
  9. New York University - 2
  10. Yale Law School - 2
  11. Bangalore University - 1
  12. Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro - 1
  13. Central European University - 1
  14. City University of New York - 1
  15. Courtauld Institute of Art, London - 1
  16. Humboldt University in Berlin - 1
  17. Hunter College - 1
  18. Imperial College, London - 1
  19. Jadavpur University, Kolkata - 1
  20. London School of Economics - 1
  21. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität - 1
  22. Rutgers University - 1
  23. Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey - 1
  24. Stanford University - 1
  25. Temple University - 1
  26. Trent University - 1
  27. Tufts University - 1
  28. University of Amsterdam - 1
  29. University of Cape Town - 1
  30. University of Colorado - 1
  31. University of Georgia - 1
  32. University of Massachusetts, Amherst - 1
  33. University of Sydney - 1
  34. University of Texas, Austin - 1
  35. University of Washington - 1
  36. University Torcuato di Tella - 1
  37. Utrecht University - 1
  38. Warburg Institute, University of London - 1

Most common BA institutions for Princeton PhD students:

  1. University of Chicago - 7
  2. Yale University - 6
  3. Washington University in St. Louis - 4
  4. Harvard University - 3
  5. University of California, Berkeley - 3
  6. Columbia University - 2
  7. Cornell University - 2
  8. London School of Economics - 2
  9. McGill University - 2
  10. New York University - 2
  11. University College London - 2
  12. University of British Columbia - 2
  13. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor - 2
  14. University of Pennsylvania - 2
  15. Williams College - 2
  16. Amherst College - 1
  17. Aristotle University - 1
  18. Bard College - 1
  19. Barnard College - 1
  20. Brigham Young University - 1
  21. Brown University - 1
  22. Cambridge University - 1
  23. Colby College - 1
  24. Connecticut College - 1
  25. Dartmouth College - 1
  26. Delhi University - 1
  27. Duke University - 1
  28. Federal University of Rio de Janeiro - 1
  29. Freiburg University - 1
  30. Humboldt University in Berlin - 1
  31. Imperial College, London - 1
  32. Indiana University, Bloomington - 1
  33. Leiden University - 1
  34. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität - 1
  35. National Law School of India University - 1
  36. Northeastern Illinois University - 1
  37. Northwestern University - 1
  38. Oregon State University - 1
  39. Oxford University - 1
  40. Princeton University - 1
  41. Rhodes University, South Africa - 1
  42. Ripon College - 1
  43. School of the Art Institute of Chicago - 1
  44. St. John's College, Annapolis - 1
  45. Stanford University - 1
  46. Temple University - 1
  47. Tufts University - 1
  48. University of Alabama - 1
  49. University of Amsterdam - 1
  50. University of Bielefeld - 1
  51. University of Buenos Aires - 1
  52. University of California, Los Angeles - 1
  53. University of California, Santa Cruz - 1
  54. University of Colorado - 1
  55. University of Georgia - 1
  56. University of Hong Kong - 1
  57. University of Kentucky - 1
  58. University of King's College - 1
  59. University of New South Wales - 1
  60. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - 1
  61. University of Oklahoma - 1
  62. University of Richmond - 1
  63. University of Rome - 1
  64. University of Sydney - 1
  65. University of Texas, Austin - 1
  66. University of Warsaw - 1
  67. Utrecht University - 1
  68. Wesleyan University - 1
  69. Whitworth University - 1

Stanford University

67 history grad students list their pre-PhD degrees on their Stanford webpages

49 came into the PhD program with a Bachelor's and Master's degree; 18 only had a Bachelor's degree

Most common MA institutions for Stanford PhD students:

  1. Stanford University - 8
  2. Yale University - 3
  3. American University in Cairo - 2
  4. Columbia University - 2
  5. École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociale - 2 
  6. Oxford University - 2
  7. University of Chicago - 2
  8. University of Edinburgh - 2
  9. Cambridge University - 1
  10. Central European University - 1
  11. CSU Fresno - 1
  12. Federal University of Parana - 1
  13. Harvard Business School - 1
  14. Harvard University - 1
  15. Istanbul Sehir University - 1
  16. King's College London - 1
  17. London School of Economics - 1
  18. San Francisco State University - 1
  19. Sciences Po Paris - 1
  20. Tel Aviv University - 1
  21. Tufts University - 1
  22. University of California, Berkeley - 1
  23. University of Guelph - 1
  24. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign - 1
  25. University of Indianapolis - 1
  26. University of Kent - 1
  27. University of Maryland - 1
  28. University of Michigan - 1
  29. University of Tartu - 1
  30. University of Tokyo - 1
  31. University of Toronto - 1
  32. University of Washington - 1

Most common BA institutions for Stanford PhD students:

  1. University of California, Berkeley - 5
  2. Harvard University - 4
  3. Princeton University - 3
  4. Washington University in St. Louis
  5. Brown University - 2
  6. Dartmouth College - 2
  7. Emory University - 2
  8. Oberlin College - 2
  9. University of California, Los Angeles - 2
  10. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign - 2
  11. Yale University - 2
  12. Amherst College - 1
  13. Arizona State University - 1
  14. Barnard College - 1
  15. Bucknell University - 1
  16. Claremont McKenna College - 1
  17. Coe College - 1
  18. Columbia University - 1
  19. Dalhousie University - 1
  20. Federal University of Parana - 1
  21. Fordham University - 1
  22. Fudan University - 1
  23. Kenyon College - 1
  24. McGill University - 1
  25. Pennsylvania State University - 1
  26. Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg -1
  27. San Francisco State University - 1
  28. Santa Clara University - 1
  29. Scripps College - 1
  30. Sorbonne Paris IV - 1
  31. Stanford University - 1
  32. SUNY Albany - 1
  33. Tel Aviv University - 1
  34. Universite Paris I - 1
  35. University of Alberta - 1 
  36. University of California, Santa Barbara - 1
  37. University of London - 1
  38. University of Maryland - 1
  39. University of Ottawa - 1
  40. University of Pennsylvania - 1
  41. University of Puget Sound - 1
  42. University of San Francisco - 1
  43. University of Southern California - 1
  44. University of Saint Andrews - 1
  45. University of Tartu - 1
  46. University of Tokyo - 1
  47. University of Toronto - 1
  48. University of Virginia - 1
  49. Wesleyan University - 1
  50. Whitman College - 1

Yale University

108 history grad students list their pre-PhD degrees on their Yale webpages

63 came into the PhD program with a Bachelor's and Master's degree; 45 only had a Bachelor's degree

Most common MA institutions for Yale PhD students:

  1. Cambridge University - 7
  2. Oxford University - 4
  3. University of Chicago - 3
  4. Yale University - 3
  5. Columbia University - 2
  6. London School of Economics - 2
  7. McGill University - 2
  8. University of Alberta - 2
  9. American University in Beirut - 1
  10. American University in Cairo - 1
  11. Bard College - 1
  12. Bard Graduate Center - 1
  13. Bogazici University, Istanbul - 1
  14. Central European University - 1
  15. Dartmouth College - 1
  16. Duke University - 1
  17. Fordham University - 1
  18. Fudan University, Shanghai - 1
  19. Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva - 1
  20. Harvard Divinity School - 1
  21. Harvard University - 1
  22. Jewish Theological Seminary - 1
  23. Linköping University - 1
  24. Nanterre University - 1
  25. National University of Singapore - 1
  26. North Carolina State University - 1
  27. Northeastern University - 1
  28. Paris Pantheon Sorbonne University - 1
  29. Peking University - 1
  30. Trinity College, Oxford - 1
  31. Union Theological Seminary - 1
  32. Universidad de los Andes, Bogota - 1
  33. Universite de Montreal - 1
  34. University of Arizona - 1
  35. University of California, Berkeley - 1
  36. University of Cape Town - 1
  37. University of Colorado, Boulder - 1
  38. University of Florida - 1
  39. University of Georgia - 1
  40. University of New Mexico - 1
  41. University of Pavia - 1
  42. University of Tübingen - 1
  43. University of Utah - 1
  44. Vanderbilt University - 1
  45. Yale Law School - 1
  46. York University in Toronto - 1

Most common BA institutions for Yale PhD students:

  1. Yale University - 10
  2. Dartmouth College - 5
  3. Harvard University - 5
  4. Brown University - 3
  5. City College of New York - 3
  6. Johns Hopkins University - 3
  7. Macalester College - 3
  8. New York University - 3
  9. Princeton University - 3
  10. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - 3
  11. Amherst College - 2
  12. Georgetown University - 2
  13. McGill University - 2
  14. National University of Singapore - 2
  15. Ohio University - 2
  16. Oxford University - 2
  17. Stanford University - 2
  18. University of Alberta - 2
  19. University of California, Berkeley - 2 
  20. University of Chicago - 2
  21. Washington University in St. Louis - 2
  22. American University - 1
  23. Binghamton University SUNY - 1
  24. Columbia University - 1
  25. Emory University - 1
  26. Gallatin School of Individualized Study in New York City - 1
  27. Grinnell College - 1
  28. Kennesaw State University - 1
  29. Lahore University of Management Sciences - 1
  30. Lehigh University - 1
  31. Louvre School - 1
  32. Middlebury College - 1
  33. Montana State University, Bozeman - 1
  34. North Carolina State University - 1
  35. Paris Pantheon Sorbonne University - 1
  36. Peking University - 1
  37. Reed College - 1
  38. Sarah Lawrence College - 1
  39. Smith College - 1 
  40. Swarthmore College - 1
  41. Texas A&M University - 1
  42. Trinity College, Oxford - 1
  43. Universidad Catolica in Lima - 1
  44. Universidad de los Andes, Bogota - 1
  45. Universite de Montreal - 1
  46. University of Bologna - 1
  47. University of California, Riverside - 1
  48. University of California, Santa Cruz - 1
  49. University of Florida - 1
  50. University of Hawaii at Manoa - 1
  51. University of King's College - 1
  52. University of Maryland, College Park - 1
  53. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - 1 
  54. University of Pavia - 1
  55. University of Pennsylvania - 1
  56. University of Southern California - 1
  57. University of Texas, Austin - 1
  58. University of Toronto - 1
  59. University of Tübingen - 1
  60. University of Victoria - 1
  61. Weber State University - 1
  62. Wellesley College - 1
  63. Wesleyan University - 1
  64. West Virginia University - 1
  65. Williams College - 1

-------------------------------------

My take on it is that it seems to matter very little where you got your undergrad education. There is a wide variety of undergraduate institutions, and the selection is so diverse it almost makes me wonder if admissions committees purposefully try not to accept too many students with any one undergraduate background. Perhaps ad-coms are more likely to accept a student into a PhD program if the applicant's undergrad institution is one that is not currently represented, so as to increase diversity? I don't know. All of the undergrad institutions are reasonably legitimate though: although you will see humble institutions like Lehigh or Weber State represented, you never see, say, for-profit online programs or conservative bible colleges represented. The prestige of the Bachelor's degree only seems to matter if a student is applying to a PhD program straight out of undergrad with no Master's degree in between.

PhD students at top tier programs do seem to bring Master's degrees from the generally-understood "Top 40"-ish institutions, with a few exceptions. Middle-of-the-pack rated state schools don't seem particularly well represented. In order to enter a top tier PhD program, one typically needs a lower degree either from another top tier institution or from a non-US school (really any foreign school seems to do the trick, even if it's only as "foreign" as Canada).

I have also attached the raw data in a spreadsheet, in case anyone wants to dig into the data a bit deeper.

Top Tier Grad Students.xlsx

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Thanks for this! Really interesting, found it especially notable that more than 1/3 of Chicago's PhD students enter with the MAPSS. I had heard doing your MA there doesn't give you much more than an informal leg up for their PhD consideration but this seems to indicate a pretty decent advantage.

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Wow, thank you for the work you have done! I will save this and will probably return multiple times throughout my master's career.

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Have you filtered out MAs in cursu from this list? I know, for example, that Harvard only awards an AM in History as part of one's PhD progress, so do the numbers you give incorporate those, or are they MAs earned elsewhere at Harvard?

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3 hours ago, TheHessianHistorian said:

from a non-US school (really any foreign school seems to do the trick, even if it's only as "foreign" as Canada).

I don’t think it’s just “any foreign schools”... e.g. for universities in Japan, I’ve only seen U Tokyo- and multiple times, and for universities in mainland China, Peking University has sent several people to the “top tier” PhD programs you mentioned. (And both PKU and UTokyo are extremely difficult to get in for Chinese/Japanese nationals themselves) And the National Universiry of Singapore is (to my understanding) one of the top universities in Asia. :)

 

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Interesting! I'd be interested in also knowing the space between when the degree was earned and application year as well (since the BA institution might be more influential if you've graduated within 1-2 years and less if its been 4 or 5) but that seems harder to scrape from department web pages. 

I was told when I was applying that the majority of new PhDs are coming in with a MA already, and this certainly confirms that. This of course, was always followed by the faculty member saying "I can't in good conscious recommend you pay for a MA though..." :-/  

Edited by archi
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5 hours ago, TheHessianHistorian said:

My take on it is that it seems to matter very little where you got your undergrad education. There is a wide variety of undergraduate institutions, and the selection is so diverse it almost makes me wonder if admissions committees purposefully try not to accept too many students with any one undergraduate background. Perhaps ad-coms are more likely to accept a student into a PhD program if the applicant's undergrad institution is one that is not currently represented, so as to increase diversity? I don't know.

It's nice to look at data etc but where you got your MA is far less important than the quality of your writing sample. You don't need to be at a prestigious, well-known school to write a great thesis. If people are wondering where to get their MA, they should be focused on finding schools that 1) will offer at least some funding and 2) will leave you with high quality, preferably publishable writing. 

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3 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Have you filtered out MAs in cursu from this list? I know, for example, that Harvard only awards an AM in History as part of one's PhD progress, so do the numbers you give incorporate those, or are they MAs earned elsewhere at Harvard?

This is a really good question. I did try my best to filter out in cursu MAs, and sometimes (when a student stated something like "I am a third-year doctoral student, and I earned my MA in 2017") I was able to do so. Oftentimes, however, when the grad student mentioned in their bio that they had "earned their M.A. at such-and-such institution," it was unclear whether the MA was earned before or after admittance to the PhD program at that same institution. For instance, just to pick at random, Juhee Kang's profile merely states, "She received her MA at Harvard and BA from Carleton College." Not much more information could be gleaned from her profile than that (unless I wanted to spend a lot more time on Google for this little project), so I felt it best to include the information rather than to risk excluding pertinent info. I do recall some other Harvard grad students who chose to divulge more information mentioned earning a Master's degree in Social Studies from Harvard before entering Harvard's History PhD program. All that being said, it would be advisable to take the numbers of those who earned their MA at the same institution as their PhD with a grain of salt--there may be a few in cursu MAs hiding in that number.

If anyone has a burning curiosity about one of the schools, they might download the raw data that I attached to my original post and research the individual student names more closely to see if a LinkedIn or personal website might be found that sheds more light on each student's particular situation.

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2 hours ago, OHSP said:

It's nice to look at data etc but where you got your MA is far less important than the quality of your writing sample. You don't need to be at a prestigious, well-known school to write a great thesis. If people are wondering where to get their MA, they should be focused on finding schools that 1) will offer at least some funding and 2) will leave you with high quality, preferably publishable writing. 

Seconded.  I got my MA in a top-tier research university but did it mean that I could write?  No.  I still got rejected/waitlisted for the first 2 cycles.  My profs there didn't work too hard to teach me how to write well; it was an editor friend who helped me to shape up my writing sample and SOP when I was re-applying for the 3rd cycle. If I had done my MA abroad, I'm sure I would not have improved my writing at all especially the program I considered had non-native English speakers who did most of their work in their native tongue. 

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4 hours ago, OHSP said:

It's nice to look at data etc but where you got your MA is far less important than the quality of your writing sample. You don't need to be at a prestigious, well-known school to write a great thesis. If people are wondering where to get their MA, they should be focused on finding schools that 1) will offer at least some funding and 2) will leave you with high quality, preferably publishable writing. 

Yeah, in terms of your chances of admission, I think the value of an MA program is mostly in the writing sample it allows you to produce. I wrote a senior thesis in undergrad, so I was able to use the first chapter as a writing sample and didn't have to do an MA. I'd never published or presented anything either.

By bypassing the master's-to-doctorate pipeline, I did miss out on a year or two of additional training and thinking about my interests, which means I'm behind some of my peers in my PhD program in terms of pre-dissertation research, but as far as the application cycle goes, the thing that matters the most is your writing sample.

Edited by L13

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5 hours ago, TMP said:

Seconded.  I got my MA in a top-tier research university but did it mean that I could write?  No.  I still got rejected/waitlisted for the first 2 cycles.  My profs there didn't work too hard to teach me how to write well; it was an editor friend who helped me to shape up my writing sample and SOP when I was re-applying for the 3rd cycle. If I had done my MA abroad, I'm sure I would not have improved my writing at all especially the program I considered had non-native English speakers who did most of their work in their native tongue. 

I'm currently abroad doing my MA and I think it is odd to assume that non-native English professors cannot teach someone how to write in English. Of course, some people will be better than others because of their grasp of the English language. However, our entire field needs to publish in English at some point in their career and must actively engage with the English literature. Also, most countries in Europe have been teaching English (or French) to their children since the age of 8, as well as a second foreign language at 12. As much as I agree that a native-English speaker helps teach the small intricacies of English, a non-native professor will typically have a better grasp of English than perceived and be able to help structure and guide a graduate student's writing (especially an MA student) as much as a native-English speaker. After all, language is typically not the issue with writing samples, but rather a lack of structure, clarity and overall narrative.

@TheHessianHistorian thanks for complying the data. More information is never a bad thing.

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14 hours ago, TheHessianHistorian said:

If anyone has a burning curiosity about one of the schools, they might download the raw data that I attached to my original post

Access to the data is blocked, at least for me.

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20 hours ago, TheHessianHistorian said:

This is a really good question. I did try my best to filter out in cursu MAs, and sometimes (when a student stated something like "I am a third-year doctoral student, and I earned my MA in 2017") I was able to do so. Oftentimes, however, when the grad student mentioned in their bio that they had "earned their M.A. at such-and-such institution," it was unclear whether the MA was earned before or after admittance to the PhD program at that same institution. For instance, just to pick at random, Juhee Kang's profile merely states, "She received her MA at Harvard and BA from Carleton College." Not much more information could be gleaned from her profile than that (unless I wanted to spend a lot more time on Google for this little project), so I felt it best to include the information rather than to risk excluding pertinent info. I do recall some other Harvard grad students who chose to divulge more information mentioned earning a Master's degree in Social Studies from Harvard before entering Harvard's History PhD program. All that being said, it would be advisable to take the numbers of those who earned their MA at the same institution as their PhD with a grain of salt--there may be a few in cursu MAs hiding in that number.

If anyone has a burning curiosity about one of the schools, they might download the raw data that I attached to my original post and research the individual student names more closely to see if a LinkedIn or personal website might be found that sheds more light on each student's particular situation.

Generally speaking, most (if not all) top programs require you to receive a MA from their program, even if you matriculate with one. 

It's a pretty safe bet to assume that someone with an Ivy League MA received it in cursu. A very good friend of mine has a Cambridge MPhil and is required to receive the MA from his program. 

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While I'm sure top school --> top grad school is likely the norm, there are outliers--myself included. I attended an unranked state school in the middle of nowhere and am attending a Top 15 program. The culture of a top private university is my biggest adjustment, which is probably why top school --> top grad school is more likely--it's pretty self-selective since these students have support built into their undergrad experience (e.g. Mellon Mays, Summer Research, access to funding, leading scholars, etc) to nurture them towards attending grad school.

During a low point in the academic year, I asked my adviser why I was accepted. At our following meeting, they pulled up my application with the admissions committee's comments, and apparently, they were excited to accept a student with my unique background. 

All of this is to say that the stats don't tell the whole story.

Edited by NoirFemme

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While we're playing with numbers, wouldn't it also be useful to take program size into account?

Say Mega-University graduates 100 people with BA's in history per year, and ten of them go on to top PhD programs. Meanwhile Small Liberal Arts College has 10 history graduates, and two of them go on to top PhD programs.

The SLAC will appear way down on the list, though its graduates have double the odds (solely by this metric).

Personally I'm not convinced that there's a code to crack by counting up all the programs -- there are so many other variables in an application! -- but it's interesting to think about.

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Nice to see CEU (Budapest) consistently placing people in top programs. CEU did really well this cycle placing people in Ivies/top programs in History/Medieval Studies.  

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18 hours ago, heliogabalus said:

Interesting that Yale takes so many of their own undergrads.

Welcome to academia's problem, where school="intelligence" (though most professors will deny it)

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It's not simply that the school = intelligence, but also professionalism. Ivy league students get groomed for academia from a young age, learning from the leading scholars in the field. That experience goes a long way in helping them develop the personal connections, social manners, and the professional skills to write research papers and statements of purpose which fit the academy's requirements. 

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On 4/30/2018 at 1:23 PM, heliogabalus said:

Interesting that Yale takes so many of their own undergrads.

Top programs like known quantities, as harsh as that sounds.

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Psstein, I'm not sure that's exactly the case. In at least one other discipline (classics), Yale seems to take many of their own students. It's strange because you don't see that happening so much at Harvard or Princeton. But at Yale it seems like a pattern.

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4 hours ago, heliogabalus said:

Psstein, I'm not sure that's exactly the case. In at least one other discipline (classics), Yale seems to take many of their own students. It's strange because you don't see that happening so much at Harvard or Princeton. But at Yale it seems like a pattern.

Yale has always been a rather incestuous place on a number of levels ?

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6 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

Yale has always been a rather incestuous place on a number of levels ?

"He was part of that whole Yale thing"

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18 minutes ago, WhaleshipEssex said:

"He was part of that whole Yale thing"

Are you quoting from American Psycho?

 

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