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Spenser/Arthuriana Studies

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I find myself in a precarious position.  I'm engaged, and my finance and I will be married this fall.  I've told her about by academic aspirations, and she's offered some limited degree of support.  By this, I mean that she's willing to move, but only to "big cities" that can support her line of work in environmental graphic design.  So far, we've been able to agree on Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, and the NY/NJ area.  I plan on filing applications to the following schools:

Rice University, University of Houston, Southern Methodist University, Penn State University, Temple University, New York University, and Rutgers. 

I've also thought about University of North Texas (the Dallas-Denton commute doesn't excite me), CUNY Graduate Center, and University of Washington.  Faculty at Indiana would be great, but I can't sell that location. 

My main research interest that I've composed a substantial master's thesis on addresses Spenser's treatment of medieval sources.  I have had some limited contact with faculty at Rice and Rutgers, (Rice's faculty member was happy to engage in a rather detailed correspondence), and I plan to send out a few more inquiries to the schools I've listed.  What I would really like to know is if there are some lower-tier schools to which I should apply.  I figure Penn State, NYU, and Rutgers are my long shots while Rice and SMU are slightly more forgiving but still incredibly selective. 

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A few notes here:

1) Has your partner looked into positions that are telecommutable? Graphic Design work lends itself well to be performed from anywhere.

2) You mention big cities and Penn State.  But Penn State is in State College/University College which is rural and hours away from Philadelphia and NYC

3) It's important to remember that your competition is from those in the same field/era as you are for most schools. Often times, it means that there's also only one or two spots available in your era.

4) I'm not sure if lower-tier schools really exist in the same context. Notre Dame is ranked in the Mid-30s but they're incredibly famous for their medieval studies. University of Connecticut is also well known for their Medieval Studies. US News rankings for English Literature is based on the 14 percent of respondents who ranked schools. As a result, your experience with a school could differ dramatically from someone in a different concentration.

5) Funding matters. Not all programs offer full funding. 

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You seem to have a somewhat limited list of 'big cities' here (what about Chicago? DC? Boston? etc.). My husband and I were very selective in the places we were willing to live as well (big cities or quite close to big cities, and mainly in the northeast), and it's certainly plausible to have that as a limiting factor but I would perhaps consider expanding the locations you're willing to consider. This may allow you to determine more schools with strong fits of varied rankings.

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If you're interested in big cities, you might want to consider DC. GWU has some pretty active medieval scholars, and the job market would absolutely support your fiance's career goals. I second the concern about Penn State- it's in the middle of nowhere, several hours from any city or place with a strong job market. Might not be the best location for your particular needs.

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6 hours ago, premodernist said:

Wow!  Thank you so much. I thought UP, PA was way closer to Philadelphia.  I can’t believe I missed that.  Thank you!  George Washington University is certainly worth my attention.  

I think there might be some confusion here!

UPenn and Penn State are two different schools.

UPenn is part of the Ivy League and is in Philadelphia. They average around ~600 applicants per year according to the stats they put out.

Penn State is a state school located in State College and is part of the B10 conference for most sports.

If you're considering schools in major cities, I'd also recommend looking into the following on location alone:
-Columbia University
-University of California, Los Angeles (Great school; Part of the UC System)
-CUNY Graduate Center
-Northwestern University
-University of Texas- Austin
-Rice University
-Ohio State University (Population of Columbus is ~860k in the city; more if you include the metro)
-University of Southern California ( Great Private School in Los Angeles; not too be confused with part of the UC system)
-University of Illinois at Chicago
-University of Minnesota
-Northeastern University
-Georgia State University

If you're looking to consider slightly smaller cities, I'd give some thought to the following schools:
-Johns Hopkins University (Pop: 614,664)
-Washington University in St. Louis (Pop: 311,404)
-Saint Louis University


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