Jump to content



Recommended Posts

What do you guys think?

I got admitted to two programs, one which is offering me the full package for funding at u of alabama for an MA, and case western thats offering me nothing but is for an mph/phd. I want to definitely get my mph in my career and my doctorate, so case would be great in that its everything in one program. 

As amazing as the package from alabama is, it is only a masters, and as a poc from southern california I don't know how well I will acclimate to the cultural change. However, it is only a two year program, and I am hoping that after two years I will apply to doctoral programs back on the west coast. 
When I spoke with the department head at case, he said that funding could possibly be distributed next year. Is it worth putting my self into debt to go to my dream school and dream program? 

Need some serious advice

Edited by gradanth
more additions
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would prioritize getting more evidence about Alabama. I know Alabama has a reputation, but it's also a university (which can distinguish itself from its surrounding political/cultural environment to greater or lesser degrees, depending) in a state with a large African-American population (although I would believe you if you told me UA is in an exclusively white part of the state). You should make it a priority to speak to POC students in the department to see what their experience is like there. It's a longer shot, but I would also ask Alabama if there's funds for you to visit, yourself.

If you go to Case, I would treat it as just a plain old master's (mph) degree. A PhD in anthropology without funding is absurd, exploitative, and unethical. (I know some places still do it...!) How much would the MPH run you for two years? If it's on the low side, I think that might be a reasonable decision: to go, pay minimal or low tuition, and plan to apply to PhD programs when your MPH finishes. One of those PhD applications could be Case, but for it to be a serious option at that point, they had better pay you a reasonable stipend. If you have to pay a lot of tuition at Case—I can't tell whether 'no funding' means 'tuition waiver but no stipend' or 'thirty thousand dollars a year of tuition'—and Alabama embodies all its worst stereotypes, your best option for the upcoming year may be neither of them, unfortunately.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, you are in a tough spot :( 

I would like to tease this out a bit because I think so much depends on other factors--some of which you hint at here. For example, you call Case your "dream school" and "dream program" but your admission to Alabama tells me that you did not focus exclusively on mph/phd programs this year. So what makes Case the dream?  Is it just that it has a nice option of doing two degrees at once, as you suggest earlier in your post? Are there other programs which offer this option to which you could reapply next year? Are you able to wait a year, working on a publication or conference paper, and try again? If so, is it worth it to risk doing two degrees over multiple years with zero funding--or worse, getting as far as you can with zero funding, leaving with a terminal MA that you could have gotten elsewhere, and reapplying again while thousands of dollars deep into debt? Or is this your second or third time applying and you feel that this is the best offer you are going to get?  Also, is the MA program at Alabama the kind of program that is going to get you into a better PhD program in two years? Is it well ranked in your subfield or area with a record of placing people in good PhD programs? Lastly, and most importantly, which school has the better advisor fit or lab group for you? What do your POIs at each program have to say?

I had written a paragraph with my two cents but after noticing that the last bit (about the advisors) was missing, I decided I should probably hold back. I know you know this and I do not mean to lecture you in any way, but finding people that you are excited to work with is the perhaps most important part of any PhD program. That you didn't mention them so far makes me wonder what, besides finances and convenience, is pushing you towards either program. Perhaps the advisors at both programs are equally wonderful? But how? Just wondering.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This was my first time applying, the reason I only applied to two programs was because I just plain out did not think I would get admitted anywhere and was hoping to take this year as a practice round because I heard many people take multiple tries. 

The adviser at Case is a subject matter expert in the field that I hope to pursue, he is definitely the better fit for my graduate experience as he is definitely more involved in the community and told me that if I began school there I would be immersed in local research projects and opportunities, which is exactly what I'm looking for. 

In comparison to the alabama, adviser who is more of a medical anthropologist. 

I have not spoken with my POIs since before the application process, should I reach out to them for advice on deciding is that not awkward or anything?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I go to Mississippi State and I am from a very liberal town in Ohio. I came down here as a gay male with similar fears as yours and I have acclimated quite well. You have to remember that anthropology departments and academia as a whole are completely different atmospheres than you'll have in other areas of the state. Yes, you'll still come across some crazy people but you'll come across more friendly people than anything else. I have friends at Bama and some who went to Bama and they love it there. They are one of the top schools for medical anthropology and personally I believe that if you want to get your MPH then you should really have a degree in medical anthropology too. You can't be expected to know about the nuances of health without being able to tease out the intricate details within the culture as a whole. With just an MPH, you aren't exactly learning how culture might influence biology and how biology might influence the culture. Bama is a huge program for the biocultural approach and would go a long way in helping you in future careers.

I'm also a strong proponent for not going to a school where you don't get funding for sure the first year. I came to my program because I was given one year of funding at the very least. Yes, I still took out loans to pay off the rest of my tuition that wasn't covered by the tuition remission but it helped me from having to find a job off campus somewhere else. I would highly suggest giving it more thought about going to Bama over CWRU. If you have specific questions about living in the south compared to the north or somewhere else that is very liberal/"welcoming" then please feel free to PM me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use