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I accepted my Michigan offer today and withdrew my application from NYU. Michigan's offer is too good to turn down in my opinion. With my name off the wait list, hopefully, someone from here will get that acceptance.

Edited by Tigla

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Got waitlisted at UMD as an "alternate for funding and admission." Nice but my blood shines crimson now. Has anyone else heard back from UMD? I specifically applied to work with David Freund.

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Is there any scenario in which any of you would turn down a funded PhD offer from a rank 15-20 program with decent fit for a partially funded or unfunded MA offer from a rank 1-5 program with perfect fit, with the ultimate goal of getting into a rank 1-5 PhD program rather than a rank 15-20 PhD program?

Edit: I should probably add, I mean the rankings from that Science Advances paper that @telkanuru has posted a few times, not U.S. News or anything like that.

Edited by Historiker

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5 minutes ago, Historiker said:

Is there any scenario in which any of you would turn down a funded PhD offer from a rank 15-20 program with decent fit for a partially funded or unfunded MA offer from a rank 1-5 program with perfect fit, with the ultimate goal of getting into a rank 1-5 PhD program rather than a rank 15-20 PhD program?

Honestly, no. You have a PhD offer and they are extremely hard to come by. Even if you complete a highly competitive and prestigious MA, you could still not receive a PhD offer because POIs move, lack of funding, cutting down the size of cohorts, etc. Your current offer may not be from a crème de le crème school, but you have 7 years to mold your research interests and skills, network at conferences, teach your own lectures, go on research trips to different countries, and so on. Instead of going backwards on a maybe, I suggest that you go forward and make the best of your PhD offer.

Edited by Tigla

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5 minutes ago, Historiker said:

Is there any scenario in which any of you would turn down a funded PhD offer from a rank 15-20 program with decent fit for a partially funded or unfunded MA offer from a rank 1-5 program with perfect fit, with the ultimate goal of getting into a rank 1-5 PhD program rather than a rank 15-20 PhD program?

Edit: I should probably add, I mean the rankings from that Science Advances paper that @telkanuru has posted a few times, not U.S. News or anything like that.

Could you provide the link that @telkanuru has referenced?

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10 minutes ago, Historiker said:

Is there any scenario in which any of you would turn down a funded PhD offer from a rank 15-20 program with decent fit for a partially funded or unfunded MA offer from a rank 1-5 program with perfect fit, with the ultimate goal of getting into a rank 1-5 PhD program rather than a rank 15-20 PhD program?

Edit: I should probably add, I mean the rankings from that Science Advances paper that @telkanuru has posted a few times, not U.S. News or anything like that.

Nope

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4 minutes ago, fordlandia said:

Could you provide the link that @telkanuru has referenced?

Yeah, sure: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/1/e1400005.

Basically, the paper ranks history programs by network centrality of their PhD placements. The top 20 programs according to the paper are (in order): Harvard; Yale; Berkeley; Princeton; Stanford; UChicago; Columbia; Brandeis; Johns Hopkins; UPenn; University of Wisconsin, Madison; UMich; UCLA; Northwestern; Cornell; Brown; UC Davis; University of Rochester; NYU; UC San Diego.

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27 minutes ago, Historiker said:

Is there any scenario in which any of you would turn down a funded PhD offer from a rank 15-20 program with decent fit for a partially funded or unfunded MA offer from a rank 1-5 program with perfect fit, with the ultimate goal of getting into a rank 1-5 PhD program rather than a rank 15-20 PhD program?

Edit: I should probably add, I mean the rankings from that Science Advances paper that @telkanuru has posted a few times, not U.S. News or anything like that.

Nope. Said as someone who turned down a “highly ranked” offer for one of these “15-20” schools. How important is it for you to be at a top 1-5 school (just going to call them “prestige schools” from here on in, because that’s what they are), and why is that so important? Like yes something about the job market but the job market is truly terrible for everyone, HYP type schools don’t place all of their students. You have to choose the best program for your work, not the most prestigious school for your resume, because chances are wherever you go it’s going to be tough to get a job, and you’ll have a better chance of ending up with good options later on if you choose the program that’s best for you specifically and not notionally best for producing historians in general. The PhD program that’s admitted you obviously thinks you’re a good fit for them so talk to them. You might find your POI there can tell you more about your prospects than any of us. 

 

**also: do not take on debt for a masters degree (or a PhD). 

Edited by OHSP

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13 minutes ago, OHSP said:

Nope. Said as someone who turned down a “highly ranked” offer for one of these “15-20” schools. How important is it for you to be at a top 1-5 school (just going to call them “prestige schools” from here on in, because that’s what they are), and why is that so important? Like yes something about the job market but the job market is truly terrible for everyone, HYP type schools don’t place all of their students. You have to choose the best program for your work, not the most prestigious school for your resume, because chances are wherever you go it’s going to be tough to get a job, and you’ll have a better chance of ending up with good options later on if you choose the program that’s best for you specifically and not notionally best for producing historians in general. The PhD program that’s admitted you obviously thinks you’re a good fit for them so talk to them. You might find your POI there can tell you more about your prospects than any of us. 

It's not really the prestige that makes me prefer the 1-5 programs over the 15-20 programs, just the relatively superior placement records and better fit with the POIs there.

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12 minutes ago, Historiker said:

It's not really the prestige that makes me prefer the 1-5 programs over the 15-20 programs, just the relatively superior placement records and better fit with the POIs there.

The thing about fit is that you can’t really know whether it exists until maybe a year into the program, and when you’re deciding where to go based on where you’ve been admitted, the best way to determine fit is to talk to your POI, and their grad students, and to visit the department and try to get a feel for it. If you’re talking about a fit that’s based on research interests alone, that’s basically less important. Re the placement thing, what I said earlier. If you’re looking at a school like the university of rochester though I’d want to be taking a look at who of their students is being placed—across schools placement differs field by field and advisor by advisor.

Edited by OHSP

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9 hours ago, DanaJ said:

"Popular themes," was my biggest concern. I love political history, and that is far from popular. Most people find it dull and boring. I have a piece of advice, and it does not even apply to your acceptance or rejection from multiple programs: You have to pursue what you enjoy and are passionate about. I dropped out of the history field and attempted to go to business school at one point because it was practical. I HATED every second of it, and ended up a C student, barely getting by. One day, on a whim, I decided to go back and finish my history undergrad. I became a model student because I cared about what I was doing. If you have the passion, it can work out for you.

That said, if you aren't working with a "trendy" topic, admission can be hard. I am looking at 1950s political history with my MA, and I struggled to even find potential POIs. You may have to search for POIs. They may not be at the big name schools. I found one who seemed interested in what I am doing and has done similar work, in ONE introductory meeting before I ever applied, he gave my some incredibly useful advice. I'm telling you, it can be done. I have friends in academia who proofread my SOP. I worked for 6 months on a writing sample. Those things are an excellent opportunity to demonstrate what you're passionate about, and if you find a POI who has similar interests, they may get excited about you. DIG DIG DIG through school's faculty pages on their websites, that's what I did. 

It won't hurt you to incorporate more trendy topics. I am working with a specific election cycle and the women's vote does matter, but I never made it a key focus. The Korean War? Not trendy, but it's a key focus. I didn't apply to many TT programs because they are heavily focused on the current popular themes, but keep in mind that those change, and if you find even one person who wants to work with you, it could surprise you. Who knows, maybe 15 years from now you're the person someone is desperately looking for because it seems like no one has an interest in what they are passionate about. Or maybe your topic is the new trendy topic and you were ahead of the curve!

Seems like we've had similar experiences except I didn't spend nearly as much time on my writing sample. The more I think about it, the more I'm worried that that was really hurt me this year. Thanks for the encouragement to keep looking. I think if I apply again, I'll need to reflect a lot more on what it is I want to do, what I need to do, and who can help me get there. 

9 hours ago, OHSP said:

...plenty of people successfully admitted to PhD programs in the past few years are not working on the "popular themes" that you've listed. I'd really get yourself away from thinking that people are getting in over you because their work is "trendy".  

To be sure, I'm not saying this to elicit pity or because I'm trying to put others down, it's just what I've observed. Sure, there are people who study less popular themes but is anybody really going to argue that it's easier getting into a top program (after which you will have an easier time getting a good teaching position at a top university) studying gender issues in China versus, say, Yugoslav nationalism?

9 hours ago, OHSP said:

Do the questions sound urgent, relevant, feasible, worth pursuing etc, and do they show that you're thinking about how to intervene in historiographical debates, methods etc etc. Instead of blaming the "trends" you're identifying, think about how you can re-frame your project (beyond the transnational thing) by explaining where it fits and who you're speaking to.

"Do the questions sound urgent, relevant..." sounds like another way of saying popular. I didn't mean to offend you by mentioning the trends but any read of this forum as well as the AHA's and other statistical data will leave no doubt that these trends are an important component when applying to schools. Yes, these others issues you mention are absolutely important but only in the context of what you're proposing to study which, in turn, must, it seems to me, conform to the trends. I'm not blaming anyone, I'm just trying to get a proper and realistic understanding of how this process works.  

9 hours ago, OHSP said:

So the SoP is where you frame your project and "stand out" from the hundreds of other applicants. I used to think the advice on this forum was harshly phrased--it's kind of necessarily so. Without tough advice you won't make the serious changes required to get into a program, so my advice is to find a professor (assistant profs are often closer to the process/remember their own SoP) who can give you that brutal advice in real life--it was the most helpful thing I did when applying. 

If I try to apply again, I will surely take this advice to heart. Thank you. 

4 hours ago, Balleu said:

This is useful feedback. It's crucial feedback. Your SOP needs to demonstrate that you understand the kinds of questions your field is asking, and that you are prepared to join that conversation. Similarly, you need to understand the direction of the discipline as a whole. You joke about "popular themes" and trying to make your project transnational. But do you understand why so many historians are taking comparative and transnational approaches? Are you prepared to engage with those approaches in conferences, journal themes, the eventual job market, etc.? Even if you decide that approach is not what you want to do with your own work, you still need to show that you're aware of it, you've considered it, and you've decided to take XYZ approach because of ABC reasons. 

The information you've given us about your proposal (nationalist history, your prior research language reflects an "outdated" approach) makes me wonder: were you proposing to study an anti-colonial nationalist movement with only the language of the colonizers? Proposing to study Algeria while only speaking French, for example? 

No. Actually, my goal was to study the nationalistic movement of an imperial subject people while comparing it to the nationalistic movement of the subjugating people and studying the similarities and differences - it was going to be a comparative study. I shifted it to doing a comparison of the transnational nature of two subject peoples within the empire and, in reality, this fit better with my interests than my original SOP. I am fluent in one of the languages without any background in the other and studying the empire's main language.  

2 hours ago, TMP said:

If you had applied just as you were starting your MA last fall, your application then didn't change much and it was too soon to re-apply to PhD programs.  You need to finish your one-year MA with a completed thesis (or at least a strong chapter for writing sample) and a set of in-depth letters.  Your professors in your MA program likely wrote surface-level letters because they didn't really get to know your work as well as they could have.  People in MA programs wait until their second (or third) year for best shot into PhD programs.

So it wouldn't matter if I changed my SOP and had a different and stronger writing sample? Also had the same suspicion about the letters and I think you're right about that. 

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5 minutes ago, pilisopa said:

Do the questions sound urgent, relevant..." sounds like another way of saying popular. I didn't mean to offend you by mentioning the trends but any read of this forum as well as the AHA's and other statistical data will leave no doubt that these trends are an important component when applying to schools.

I’m not talking about topic, I’m talking about phrasing. You can make anything sound urgent and relevant. If everyone getting in were studying these “popular” topics our work would all be very similar—that has not been my experience in grad school. “Nationalistic movement of an imperial subject people” is strange phrasing, so I’m betting it’s probably more about how you’re framing your project than it is about your topic (especially because this actually sounds like a “trendy” topic). Good luck with future applications, application cycles are brutal and rejections are frustrating, but there’s a lot of good advice going around on this forum.

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2 hours ago, Historiker said:

Is there any scenario in which any of you would turn down a funded PhD offer from a rank 15-20 program with decent fit for a partially funded or unfunded MA offer from a rank 1-5 program with perfect fit, with the ultimate goal of getting into a rank 1-5 PhD program rather than a rank 15-20 PhD program?

Edit: I should probably add, I mean the rankings from that Science Advances paper that @telkanuru has posted a few times, not U.S. News or anything like that.

Would it make sense for you to go to this "15-20" rank program if it were your only offer? If so, take it.

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1 hour ago, pilisopa said:

Seems like we've had similar experiences except I didn't spend nearly as much time on my writing sample. The more I think about it, the more I'm worried that that was really hurt me this year. Thanks for the encouragement to keep looking. I think if I apply again, I'll need to reflect a lot more on what it is I want to do, what I need to do, and who can help me get there. 

To be sure, I'm not saying this to elicit pity or because I'm trying to put others down, it's just what I've observed. Sure, there are people who study less popular themes but is anybody really going to argue that it's easier getting into a top program (after which you will have an easier time getting a good teaching position at a top university) studying gender issues in China versus, say, Yugoslav nationalism?

"Do the questions sound urgent, relevant..." sounds like another way of saying popular. I didn't mean to offend you by mentioning the trends but any read of this forum as well as the AHA's and other statistical data will leave no doubt that these trends are an important component when applying to schools. Yes, these others issues you mention are absolutely important but only in the context of what you're proposing to study which, in turn, must, it seems to me, conform to the trends. I'm not blaming anyone, I'm just trying to get a proper and realistic understanding of how this process works.  

If I try to apply again, I will surely take this advice to heart. Thank you. 

No. Actually, my goal was to study the nationalistic movement of an imperial subject people while comparing it to the nationalistic movement of the subjugating people and studying the similarities and differences - it was going to be a comparative study. I shifted it to doing a comparison of the transnational nature of two subject peoples within the empire and, in reality, this fit better with my interests than my original SOP. I am fluent in one of the languages without any background in the other and studying the empire's main language.  

So it wouldn't matter if I changed my SOP and had a different and stronger writing sample? Also had the same suspicion about the letters and I think you're right about that. 

Everything matters.  Going forward, strengthen your SOP and writing sample and have honest conversations with your professors if they can write a strong letters of support for next cycle. Unlike last fall, you have gained more knowledge and understanding of history and historiography to articulate your interests and questions more clearly.

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I meant to post this earlier, but I got the notification while on my way to see Hamilton.... I got my second acceptance! I was accepted into the MA to PhD program in American history at SLU. I emailed the program director to see if a switch into the early modern history program was possible and will probably ask my current faculty mentor (who does some very interesting work) about possibly working with me for a masters. 

I honestly didn't expect to have to weigh two options, but I'm so glad I have to! 

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7 hours ago, historygeek said:

I meant to post this earlier, but I got the notification while on my way to see Hamilton.... I got my second acceptance! I was accepted into the MA to PhD program in American history at SLU. I emailed the program director to see if a switch into the early modern history program was possible and will probably ask my current faculty mentor (who does some very interesting work) about possibly working with me for a masters. 

I honestly didn't expect to have to weigh two options, but I'm so glad I have to! 

That's sounds like the best day you could hope for! I love love love Hamilton, I was in NYC for two days this summer and spent eight hours of it in the cancellation queue at the theatre. My seat was 1A; I've never been happier to feel someone spitting on me. Potentially the best day of my life. Did you have a good time?

But also, big congrats on getting another offer!!

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58 minutes ago, elx said:

That's sounds like the best day you could hope for! I love love love Hamilton, I was in NYC for two days this summer and spent eight hours of it in the cancellation queue at the theatre. My seat was 1A; I've never been happier to feel someone spitting on me. Potentially the best day of my life. Did you have a good time?

But also, big congrats on getting another offer!!

Oh my goodness, those sound like the best tickets. I absolutely loved it; the national tour cast was incredible. Thank you! I'm very excited.

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13 hours ago, Tigla said:

I accepted my Michigan offer today and withdrew my application from NYU. Michigan's offer is too good to turn down in my opinion. With my name off the wait list, hopefully, someone from here will get that acceptance.

How did you withdraw your application? I didn't see an option on the portal like there is for other schools. I'd like to withdraw mine as well

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12 hours ago, Historiker said:

Is there any scenario in which any of you would turn down a funded PhD offer from a rank 15-20 program with decent fit for a partially funded or unfunded MA offer from a rank 1-5 program with perfect fit, with the ultimate goal of getting into a rank 1-5 PhD program rather than a rank 15-20 PhD program?

Edit: I should probably add, I mean the rankings from that Science Advances paper that @telkanuru has posted a few times, not U.S. News or anything like that.

Not for rank 15-20 unless the MA was highly funded/ I could easily afford it without loans. I did turn down a PhD from a 40s/50 range for a MA 1-5 rank in 2016. Now I am going to a 1-5 rank in the fall. 

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48 minutes ago, mediumatcha said:

Not for rank 15-20 unless the MA was highly funded/ I could easily afford it without loans. I did turn down a PhD from a 40s/50 range for a MA 1-5 rank in 2016. Now I am going to a 1-5 rank in the fall. 

@Historiker Take the PhD offer. Other than just the ranking, what is really the advantage of doing a MA at a 1-5 if it's not completely funded?  As you can see from the boards (and perhaps my cynicism), getting into a PhD program itself is very difficult and it's not unusual to apply several times.  Schools in the "top 20" are still very solid.  It's what you make of the opportunities while in that the department and within that university.

52 minutes ago, mediumatcha said:

How did you withdraw your application? I didn't see an option on the portal like there is for other schools. I'd like to withdraw mine as well

You e-mail the DGS and your POIs a sweet, short note that you will be declining the offer to attend elsewhere (or whatever other plans you have) and THANK them for their time in reading  your materials and hope that your paths will cross in the future.

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1 hour ago, mediumatcha said:

How did you withdraw your application? I didn't see an option on the portal like there is for other schools. I'd like to withdraw mine as well

I would just leave it. I'm pretty sure they've made decisions/finished meeting, so you're not reducing the decision-making workload. Possibly a few people are yet to be notified (though I doubt it at this point), and if you're amongst them it's probably just going to irritate your POI if you pre-emptively turn down the offer after they've spent time making decisions. If you receive an offer, turn it down then. Otherwise you're just sending unnecessary emails (a big academic sin). 

Edited by OHSP

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I know the question of asking about finalists for a job was discussed recently, but I have a related question that I would like some feedback on for proper etiquette: One of the schools where I've been accepted is in the middle of hiring, and the position has the potential to be quite relevant to my work. In that case, is it OK to inquire (maybe while I'm visiting) about whether they expect to make a decision on that position soon, or is it still bad form? Depending on who it is, it might impact my decision.

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29 minutes ago, HardyBoy said:

I know the question of asking about finalists for a job was discussed recently, but I have a related question that I would like some feedback on for proper etiquette: One of the schools where I've been accepted is in the middle of hiring, and the position has the potential to be quite relevant to my work. In that case, is it OK to inquire (maybe while I'm visiting) about whether they expect to make a decision on that position soon, or is it still bad form? Depending on who it is, it might impact my decision.

I went through a similar situation, but it was MA work at my currently university. I’ve had a difficult time finding advisors and one of the potential candidates was a really good fit for my thesis committee. If you’ve had contact with someone at the university or have developed some kind of relationship, I don’t see why it would be an issue to inquire about when they may make a decision. Personally, I’m fairly open with my department chair (I TAed for him twice), and asked about when a decision would be reached because one candidate would be a very viable option for a committee member.

That said, proceed with extreme caution if you do not have any existing relationship with that department. I know that I have read over any and all contact with departments outside my own numerous times and often save an email to drafts, think about what I wanted to say, and revisit it later. It can’t hurt to ask, especially if you have decision to make between programs, but make sure you are very polite in doing so and be sure to not come off too intrusive. You aren’t trying to by nosey about inter workings of the department, simply inquiring about something that may impact your own project and I personally see nothing wrong with that, if handled properly.

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I agree with what @DanaJ said above, and want to add my 2 cents: I think, if phrased correctly, this conversation can both (1) show that you are interested in, invested in, and conversant on the matters of this department, and (2) indicate that you understand the delicate balance in which a PhD program and a student in said program need to operate.

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