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Hi all,

I am going to apply for English master program. I major in English in China and have a GPA of 3.84. My IETLS is 7.5. This term I studied in England as an exchange student and got high marks for 3 courses. But I have no research experience at all. I heard that many successful applicants did research assistant at least once when they were undergraduate students. So I guess there is little chance I get admitted to good programs. What shall I do in this summer to make up for it? I have been asking my professors whether I could work as their research assistant, but they all replied that their projects have finished but would consider me in the future. 

I intend to do some research by myself. Does that help? I plan to apply for 8 U.S. school and 5 schools in Britain because I heard that the latter attach less importance to research experience.

Thanks, all, for your insight!

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Welcome, @Rebecca Chueng!

I can't speak for British schools, but American universities tend not to expect research experience from English-literature applicants who hold only an undergraduate degree. If you have an MA, on the other hand, it's likely that departments will want to see that you've begun to flesh out a unique research idea, or at least an insightful expansion to some pre-existing work. Most MA applicants here seem to include parts of their thesis in their writing sample, especially if they hope to build off the same topic during the PhD. 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but from the way you worded your post, it appears that you do not in fact have a Master's degree. In that case, I wouldn't worry about lacking research credentials. Graduate degrees, particularly in the humanities, aim to teach students how to do proper research in the first place; they don't expect recent undergrads to matriculate with PhD-level research skills. Otherwise, what would be the point of pursuing an advanced degree? So, in sum, don't sweat it! I too was in your shoes (applied with an undergrad degree sans research experience) and was still accepted to several R1 institutions. If I can do it, you can as well!

Instead, I'd work hard to ensure that you've got a stellar SoP and writing sample. I think you might be given some leeway in terms of your skill in written (and spoken) English since you're an international candidate, but if departments catch too many whiffs of poor mechanics, they'll probably be reluctant to accept you. I'd make sure, therefore, to pass along your SoP and WS to as many advanced (or, preferably, native) English speakers as you can. The more eyes, the better! 

Good luck! 

Edited by FreakyFoucault
Forgot to include an anecdote!
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12 hours ago, FreakyFoucault said:

Welcome, @Rebecca Chueng!

I can't speak for British schools, but American universities tend not to expect research experience from English-literature applicants who hold only an undergraduate degree. If you have an MA, on the other hand, it's likely that departments will want to see that you've begun to flesh out a unique research idea, or at least an insightful expansion to some pre-existing work. Most MA applicants here seem to include parts of their thesis in their writing sample, especially if they hope to build off the same topic during the PhD. 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but from the way you worded your post, it appears that you do not in fact have a Master's degree. In that case, I wouldn't worry about lacking research credentials. Graduate degrees, particularly in the humanities, aim to teach students how to do proper research in the first place; they don't expect recent undergrads to matriculate with PhD-level research skills. Otherwise, what would be the point of pursuing an advanced degree? So, in sum, don't sweat it! I too was in your shoes (applied with an undergrad degree sans research experience) and was still accepted to several R1 institutions. If I can do it, you can as well!

Instead, I'd work hard to ensure that you've got a stellar SoP and writing sample. I think you might be given some leeway in terms of your skill in written (and spoken) English since you're an international candidate, but if departments catch too many whiffs of poor mechanics, they'll probably be reluctant to accept you. I'd make sure, therefore, to pass along your SoP and WS to as many advanced (or, preferably, native) English speakers as you can. The more eyes, the better! 

Good luck! 

Thank you very much for your helpful response! Now I feel much more relieved! And yes, I am an undergraduate student. I will work hard on my SoP and WS. Thanks!!

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