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Applications 2019

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Thanks everyone for your comments!

I'm definitely going into this with a much cautioned optimism. More importantly, I will continue the ardent and tortuous work of writing, revising, and writing my SOP's, editing my writing sample, and continuing GRE studying. Like many of you said, there is no guarantee, so I will be continuing working hard and not expecting anything! And yes, regardless if I am extended an offer into the program, this is still a great connection to have! 

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Congrats, @urbanhistorynerd! What an excellent opportunity for networking, regardless of what comes of it in the application process. 

On 8/23/2018 at 12:58 PM, Sigaba said:

An observation (sometimes a complaint) of older professionals is that more and more people are treating relationships as a means to an end. In my experience, if you treat professional relationships from a the journey is the destination frame of mind, you will earn a lot of respect. And from there you may have unforeseen opportunities to learn and grow. 

This is excellent advice for all of us. I've seen the benefits of a "journey is the destination" mindset, and I can't agree enough that it builds both your own self-confidence and others' respect for your professionalism.

On the topic of professional etiquette: how should one adress the topic of funding in an SOP? I'd like to specifically highlight how their funding would benefit the research I plan to do (funded language study the summer before the first year would help as I learn a less-commonly-taught language, for example). To me, that's a part of the program's fit. But is it too obvious a point? Or uncouth to bring up funding at all?

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On 8/25/2018 at 2:31 PM, Balleu said:

On the topic of professional etiquette: how should one adress the topic of funding in an SOP? I'd like to specifically highlight how their funding would benefit the research I plan to do (funded language study the summer before the first year would help as I learn a less-commonly-taught language, for example). To me, that's a part of the program's fit. But is it too obvious a point? Or uncouth to bring up funding at all?

I wouldn't bring it up at all, but opinions will vary.

In my view, it's better to focus upon physical, rather than financial resources, if that makes sense. If the stock market crashes tomorrow, that summer language funding might disappear. Unless the library burns down, that collection of some 19th century figure's papers isn't going anywhere fast. Discussing financial resources may give the impression that you'll quit if those resources became scare. 

Just as an aside, my university's FLAS coordinators were, in January/Feb., concerned that FLAS wouldn't continue after this year. I don't know what Washington's current mood on the question is, but I wouldn't depend upon FLAS funding continuing to exist after this year.

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I also would not bring it up, or at least not directly. There's no need to waste words saying what everyone knows - that money for language study is helpful. That's why they provide it.

In any case, I would stick with a higher-order analysis of why a program fits you, with ideas and how the POI's work has influenced your own, more than the particulars of the departmental funding structure.

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On 8/25/2018 at 2:31 PM, Balleu said:

On the topic of professional etiquette: how should one adress the topic of funding in an SOP? I'd like to specifically highlight how their funding would benefit the research I plan to do (funded language study the summer before the first year would help as I learn a less-commonly-taught language, for example). To me, that's a part of the program's fit. But is it too obvious a point? Or uncouth to bring up funding at all?

It's also quite likely to be the case that faculty members don't really know or care about this language funding (sad realities of grad school). It's better to focus on academic fit--why are the questions you're asking a good match for x professor etc. 

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On 8/25/2018 at 1:31 PM, Balleu said:

On the topic of professional etiquette: how should one adress the topic of funding in an SOP? I'd like to specifically highlight how their funding would benefit the research I plan to do (funded language study the summer before the first year would help as I learn a less-commonly-taught language, for example). To me, that's a part of the program's fit. But is it too obvious a point? Or uncouth to bring up funding at all?

So I'm in the application process as well, but IMO, I feel like bringing up funding is a bit uncouth and unprofessional. If I were reading an SOP that directly mentioned funding, even as a point of professional fit, I would be less inclined to recommend the applicant for admission because it would appear as though they were focusing on money instead of other, more school-specific resources.

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Hi everyone! I just wanted to share something really positive!

I just met with my two thesis advisors and we discussed a plan of action for this semester, when I’ll be writing my prospectus. We talked in depth about my project and they seemed excited about my project, especially the fact that I suggested adding a chapter on love and food culture. They also enthusiastically agreed to write me letters of recommendation. And, perhaps best, my mentor returned my writing sample with very few marks. 

It’s a good day!

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Thanks for your input, everyone. Congrats on the positive feedback and starting the semester on a good note, @historygeek

It's been a good week for me too. I had a very helpful phone call with the chair of Yale HSHM, and have follow up phone calls scheduled with two of her colleagues. Also, I'd been waiting to get confirmation from LOR writer #3, and just received it. Each of my reviewers has worked with me in a minimum of two upper-division seminars, and all three were very enthusiastic about supporting my applications. 

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ALCON--

It's never too soon to invest time in relationships with professors and graduate students whom you might ask to write letters of recommendation on your behalf and/or for more general support during the application process.

Yes, there can be a certain awkwardness to initiating conversations with people you don't know, especially if you eventually intend to ask for a potentially life changing favor. A way to get over what ever hurdles you may think or feel are in your way is to understand that developing relationships is part of the profession you seek to join and that, down the line, it will be your turn to be asked for support.

A way to prepare for an initial conversation is to develop a handful of talking points about history. It can be related to a course, a current event, or a matter of more general interest. Figure out the POI's office hours and either make an appointment or just show up. Do what you can to convey that you're knowledgeable about the topic and interested in learning more. Do what you can to see if you're talking to someone with whom you can develop rapport over the next month. You don't have to put all of your "cards on the table" during this first meeting, but if you want to be upfront, that's perfectly acceptable.

The big picture here is that unless you already have individuals committed to writing on your behalf, you do need to start developing relationships with people who will, and you need to do it right away.

 

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Hello everyone! 

I think that my SOPs are where I need them to be, which is very exciting. I'm now shifting my focus to my writing sample and my personal statements. I'm kind of kicking myself because I'm thinking of changing what my writing sample is-- I was going to write my thesis chronologically, but have since decided to do thematic chapters. I wrote what I thought was going to be my writing sample as a chronological chapter, but I've since decided to write one of my thematic chapters instead. I'm pretty confident that I can do this, especially with my thesis advisors being so available to help perfect it. 

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I am also pretty much done with my SOPs. I am also quite done with the writing sample - I am just hoping that the answer from the peer-reviewed journal I sent it to will be in by December so I can incorporate the reviewers' feedback. I have spent all morning assembling materials for my recommenders, and it looks like I am almost ready.

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Good to hear that both of you guys are doing well! I'm currently finishing up my SOP's. I've got the fundamentals of each one done, the gist of my experiences, and now it is a matter of writing, taking a break, and coming back to edit.

All three of my advisers agreed they'd write me strong letters of recommendation. 
 

I have my writing sample ready but it will need several edits before I submit it. Although - and I may need a little assistance on this - it utilizes a wide variety of primary sources, and I steep my argument in the literature, however, my examination of evidence doesn't exactly lead to an answer. Really, it brings up more questions that it answers. Partially, I didn't have enough time to comb through other primary sources, but also because the connections I'm looking at may require oral interviews to be conducted, and I do not think I'll have enough time to do that.

Lastly, I'm taking the GRE on October 5th. I've been stuck at scoring between 160-162 on my verbal. I'm trying to push over that, but if I get a 162, I wouldn't be too upset.

Also, for everyone who may think they are eligible, apply to fee waivers! I just applied for a couple.

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Hello everyone,

I will be applying to MA programs this application cycle and I'm working on the research interests portion of my SOP. How specific should you be when you are describing your research interests? My regional focus is in early modern Germany with a particular interest in rural society, peasants, and popular rebellion and I have selected programs with POIs that specialize in these areas.  Since I am only applying to MA programs, does it benefit me to go into detail about what I want to study or should I go for a more broader approach to describing it?

For example, should I talk about how I would like to research how divisions within rural society shaped peasant uprisings or should I mainly talk about my general interest in the social history of early modern Europe?

Thanks in advance!

Edited by andnothing

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9 hours ago, andnothing said:

Hello everyone,

I will be applying to MA programs this application cycle and I'm working on the research interests portion of my SOP. How specific should you be when you are describing your research interests? My regional focus is in early modern Germany with a particular interest in rural society, peasants, and popular rebellion and I have selected programs with POIs that specialize in these areas.  Since I am only applying to MA programs, does it benefit me to go into detail about what I want to study or should I go for a more broader approach to describing it?

For example, should I talk about how I would like to research how divisions within rural society shaped peasant uprisings or should I mainly talk about my general interest in the social history of early modern Europe?

Thanks in advance!

The short answer is both. In my experience applying to MA and PhD programs, they want you to show you have some specialized direction in mind but are also thinking broadly enough that you can roll with the punches as your education/research transform your project. If your writing sample relates to your specific interest, you can use it to show a direction in which you're interested, then explain the broader contours of that interest. 

I found my MA application from 2012, the writing sample had nothing to do with what I wanted to do in grad school haha so in the SOP I explained that I was interested in U.S. history from 1900 to the 1970s (yes, it was MUCH broader than my PhD SOP), but I was also more specific in stating that I wanted to explore the ways in which war and society influence one another through comparing propaganda across different conflicts. So basically, I had a somewhat defined time period (though way too broad for PhD applications) a geographic focus, and I also indicated that I had thought about how I could approach the study of said time period and geography. I also included a line (in both MA and PhD apps) saying something along the lines of "while I welcome the possibility that my research will go in unanticipated directions, I look forward to continuing this line of inquiry in graduate school." Basically a line like this tries to convey that you're not closed minded and would welcome POIs' suggestions. I hope this example helps!

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15 hours ago, andnothing said:

My regional focus is in early modern Germany with a particular interest in rural society, peasants, and popular rebellion and I have selected programs with POIs that specialize in these areas. 

Thanks in advance!

In my experience, the expectations of German historians are extraordinarily high.

I recommend that you submit a SOP that demonstrates a keen understanding of the historiographical debates among historians of early modern Germany that will inform your research. If German historians are debating something different than other Europeanists, you will profit from showing that you understand the different debates and why you're picking Germany over other areas. That is, make it clear that you're area of emphasis is early modern German history, even though you can "speak" early modern European history as well.

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Thank you for the responses! They were very helpful. When I applied to programs last year, I felt this part of my SOP was not well defined so I want to try to fix that this time around.  There seems to be a fine line between going into too much detail and being too broad. I didn't want to be too specific and give the impression of being closed minded to suggestions. I will probably start with my interest in early modern Europe as a whole and then transition into early modern Germany and the historiographical debates that inspired my planned research.  I feel my approach to the topic relies on understanding the current scholarship and debates on the peasantry and I hope I am able to convey that in my SOP.

 

 

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On 9/26/2018 at 11:09 AM, andnothing said:

My regional focus is in early modern Germany with a particular interest in rural society, peasants, and popular rebellion and I have selected programs with POIs that specialize in these areas.  Since I am only applying to MA programs, does it benefit me to go into detail about what I want to study or should I go for a more broader approach to describing it?

Have you looked into SLU at all? We have a decent early modern history program and the MA is funded. You might want to contact Dr. Mark Ruff (he's usually a historian of modern Germany but has training in early modern German society as well). 

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I'm so excited, everyone! Over fall break, I'm traveling up to Chicago for a grad school visit! I'll be meeting with not only current students, but also with professors that I'm interested in working under. :)

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1 hour ago, historygeek said:

current students :)

 

If you can, arrange one-on-one meetings with ABDs. Without getting into specifics, ask about preparing for qualifying exams, the process of writing the dissertation proposal, and questions about the dissertation itself. Try to get a sense of how they feel about the level of support they've received from faculty members.

Ideally, the face to face conversations will take place away from the department.

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Hello everyone,

I am considering applying to a history MA program in this round and would love your advice on a few things.

For background: I am an undergrad at GWU in Washington, DC. I am pursuing a BS with double major in Economics and International Affairs (Asia Concentration). My current GPA in 3.6 and I can perhaps pull it to about 3.64 by the time in graduate in May 2019. I have not taken very many history courses during my college but have always been interested in modern history of South Asia. Thus, I (ultimately) want to pursue a PhD in History or Political Science or some interdisciplinary South Asia department. However, I realize that my application might suffer from my low GPA at the moment. Thus, I want to beef up my credentials with a MA degree. I do not want to spend too much money on a masters, thus I am only looking at MA programs outside North America. For now, I am thinking of the following:

MA History, SOAS, University of London (1 year)

MSc Modern South Asia, Oxford (1 year)

MPhil Modern South Asia, Cambridge (1 year)

MSc Contemporary India, Kings College London (1 year)

MA Global History, Humbolt University zu Berlin (2 years)

 

I am wondering if you guys can offer any advice on my short-listed schools. Am I aiming too high for my GPA? Are there other schools that I should consider? I feel like Oxbridge might be out of my reach for the moment given my scores. Is that true? If so, is there anything that I can do to make that look less bad? Also, I have heard very mixed reviews about Humbolt's history program. Anyone here who has been a part of that program and can offer some insights?

Thanks in advance everyone! Appreciate your help :)

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2 hours ago, history_new said:

Thus, I (ultimately) want to pursue a PhD in History or Political Science or some interdisciplinary South Asia department.

1

Welcome to TGC. My recommendation is that invest as much time as you can studying how history is different than political science/IR (if not also the "dismal science"). From there, you may want to delve deeper into the backgrounds of the academics with whom you want to work to see if the boundaries between history and politics/IR are hard or soft. You want to avoid a situation in which a professor bleeds over an essay you worked hard to produce with a lead comment "This isn't history."

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33 minutes ago, Sigaba said:

Welcome to TGC. My recommendation is that invest as much time as you can studying how history is different than political science/IR (if not also the "dismal science"). From there, you may want to delve deeper into the backgrounds of the academics with whom you want to work to see if the boundaries between history and politics/IR are hard or soft. You want to avoid a situation in which a professor bleeds over an essay you worked hard to produce with a lead comment "This isn't history."

Hi @Sigaba. Thank you for your response. Indeed, I have been trying to explore the different fields to really narrow down on my interest area. I think I certainly want to explore political science, especially political theory, but from the purview of historical context. As in, I want to explore the specific socio-historical conditions under which certain forms of political engagement developed in South Asia. However, I suspect this will be more of a concern when I apply for PhDs, and hopefully the masters program will be helpful in narrowing my focus.

 

Do you have any advice about the strength of my application? I am particularly concerned about having chosen universities that might not accept me given my GPA. Thoughts? 

Edited by history_new
Had forgotten to tag the relevant person

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21 hours ago, history_new said:

Hi @Sigaba. Thank you for your response. Indeed, I have been trying to explore the different fields to really narrow down on my interest area. I think I certainly want to explore political science, especially political theory, but from the purview of historical context. As in, I want to explore the specific socio-historical conditions under which certain forms of political engagement developed in South Asia. However, I suspect this will be more of a concern when I apply for PhDs, and hopefully the masters program will be helpful in narrowing my focus.

 

Do you have any advice about the strength of my application? I am particularly concerned about having chosen universities that might not accept me given my GPA. Thoughts? 

You're at GWU, a research university with PhD programs in both Political Science and History departments.  You would do well to speak with your professors both in those departments.  They can best guide you to choose your disciplinary focus.  

Your GPA is fine.  Just apply.  But I'd really recommend taking a year off after those 1-year MAs so you can present a finish thesis for a writing sample.

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Hi everyone! Long time lurker over the past few years here and there. Looking to apply this cycle to at least two schools, and then if I don't get in, try again next year. (I'll explain this theory in a bit). Educational background: History and International Studies with French Minor undergrad at Texas A&M University in 2017 (3.97 GPA) , took the GRE have okay scores (164 verbal 150 quant, 4.5 writing- terrible I know, all I can say is I took it at a rough time), but I'm told by my current adviser they don't look at that at all, just want to make sure you have it. They really only care about SOP, LORs, and writing sample. I'm currently getting my master at NYU, and am interested in their joint french studies/history phd. This is where I'd really like to end up, but obviously don't want to throw all my eggs in one basket! 

I'm interested in French nationalism/cultural history in the 19th & 20th c. 

I'm beginning to look into other schools as well, based on recommendations from my adviser- Princeton, UCLA, Duke, Chicago. -  Although I feel as if I'm not qualified enough for any of these top tier schools. 

My one hang up is not having an insanely specific research idea as many people I have seen already have. I beginning to start looking at materials that would benefit me in my research, but with my part time job and my current load as a masters student, it's proving more difficult. Hence, why I don't really want to take another year off (I took last year off), but if I don't get in, I know I'll be able to take advantage of the time.

Anyways, I know I'm late to the draw on the application cycle, but I figured I'd finally post since I always find my way back to these pages. 

 

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5 hours ago, Michael Scarn said:

Hi everyone! Long time lurker over the past few years here and there. Looking to apply this cycle to at least two schools, and then if I don't get in, try again next year. (I'll explain this theory in a bit). Educational background: History and International Studies with French Minor undergrad at Texas A&M University in 2017 (3.97 GPA) , took the GRE have okay scores (164 verbal 150 quant, 4.5 writing- terrible I know, all I can say is I took it at a rough time), but I'm told by my current adviser they don't look at that at all, just want to make sure you have it. They really only care about SOP, LORs, and writing sample. I'm currently getting my master at NYU, and am interested in their joint french studies/history phd. This is where I'd really like to end up, but obviously don't want to throw all my eggs in one basket! 

I'm interested in French nationalism/cultural history in the 19th & 20th c. 

I'm beginning to look into other schools as well, based on recommendations from my adviser- Princeton, UCLA, Duke, Chicago. -  Although I feel as if I'm not qualified enough for any of these top tier schools. 

My one hang up is not having an insanely specific research idea as many people I have seen already have. I beginning to start looking at materials that would benefit me in my research, but with my part time job and my current load as a masters student, it's proving more difficult. Hence, why I don't really want to take another year off (I took last year off), but if I don't get in, I know I'll be able to take advantage of the time.

Anyways, I know I'm late to the draw on the application cycle, but I figured I'd finally post since I always find my way back to these pages. 

 

7

I would suggest that your hang up is not thinking that you're qualified enough for the schools that your advisor is recommending. If you weren't, your advisor wouldn't recommend that you apply to any of them. ("Well, and you're an Aggie...." sneered the Longhorn.?)

Is anything keeping you from writing a master's thesis /report that could serve as the core of your writing sample?

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