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How many is too many?


historygeek

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Hi everyone! I'm starting to think about how many grad programs that I should apply to. I was planning on applying to 10-12: mostly PhD programs, as well as a couple of masters programs. However, I've heard that this is probably way too many! I think that my biggest worry is that I just won't get in, which is why I was planning on applying to so many. Help?

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You should post on the history forum since this is going to vary by discipline/type of program

Generally, when it comes to PhD, you should apply to as many programs as you have good fit with, since applying to programs that are a bad fit and where you therefore wouldn't be able to do the work you're interested in is a waste. For most disciplines, I'd be surprised if you had good fit with more than 5 or so. Given the job market in history, if you want a job you're better off only applying to top programs (since attending a program that won't get you a job is also arguably a waste), so depending on your subfield, that number may need to be further constrained.

I'm not sure that "I just want to get in somewhere" is the right attitude when it comes to PhD admissions. You want to get into a program that gives you the resources to gain the kind of expertise you need to be competitive for the job you want out of it, otherwise why do it? Conversely, if you're targeting funded master's programs, it's better to apply widely.

Edited by ExponentialDecay
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13 minutes ago, historygeek said:

Hi everyone! I'm starting to think about how many grad programs that I should apply to. I was planning on applying to 10-12: mostly PhD programs, as well as a couple of masters programs. However, I've heard that this is probably way too many! I think that my biggest worry is that I just won't get in, which is why I was planning on applying to so many. Help?

You've already heard my opinion, but I've been at the airport the last 3 hours and am bored out of my mind.

With your background/interests, you ought to consider programs who have a good relationship with gender/women's studies or which are well-known for women's history.

You seem to have a pretty strong background. You do not need a MA, especially in view of the fact there are very few funded history MAs. I had the exact same anxieties as you did, which is why I applied to 9 programs. Consider the fact GRE scores are $27 a pop outside of the 4 programs you elect to send them to. Add application fees, often $70 or more. Applications can get very expensive.

One idea which may prove useful to you is thinking about where you want to go and why. Also, consider graduate outcomes. Many programs do not list placement, but once you have names (often via a list of recent graduates), you can often find out via LinkedIn or Google. Anything with a title like "Adjunct" or "Adjunct Assistant Professor" is not a good sign. I bang on about this a lot, but roughly 70% of tenured history professors come from 10 programs. Just looking at your undergrad program's faculty, most of the people with post 2008/2009 PhDs are from elite programs (e.g. Berkeley).

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