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14 hours ago, AfricanusCrowther said:

I think both L13 and ashiepoo72 are right. I wouldn't assume you will be accepted because you received a positive response from a POI (some of them may find it difficult not to sound enthusiastic out of politeness). But contacting such people can still yield all sorts of useful information.

Plus, even if your POI is genuinely willing to accept you, they may not be able to intercede on your behalf successfully. They're only one of a number of people who need to approve your application, so trying to predict its outcome based on their behaviour is going to yield imperfect results regardless of how easy they are to read.

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20 hours ago, ashiepoo72 said:

So look at these interactions as helping you decide where to apply and as networking opportunities that can potentially inform your work, rather than as a gauge for whether you'll be accepted or not.

This was super well-stated and helped clarify my perspective. Thank you!

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Hey all! Very new to this forum (just joined up today) and I thought this would be a good place to both introduce myself and to get some advice about my grad school journey. Currently, I am a senior at a state school in New York. I'm interested in studying the intersections of American immigration at the turn of the century and food culture. I am also interested in religious minorities in the United States during the 19th century as well as US immigration history more broadly. I wrote a paper last year about anti-Mormon literature during the antebellum period that I intend to present this fall and potentially use as my writing sample. This is my current list of schools I intend to apply to, but it is by no means exhaustive and I am very open to feedback and suggestions:

- SUNY Albany

- University of Deleware

- Rutgers

- University of Minnesota

Good luck everyone :) Feel free to PM me to get to know me or if you have any advice you'd like to share. 

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1 hour ago, Zergonomic said:

the intersections of American immigration at the turn of the century and food culture. I am also interested in religious minorities in the United States

I know U of Delaware has at least two foodways historians as well as at least one (Suisman) whose focus is on the history of sound. I wish you the best of luck in this process! Immigration, foodways, possibly the history of the senses and religious history, all seem like good thematic starting points. I applied to UD last year because of the great connections the history department has to libraries, museums, other orgs, and the related capitalism and museum studies program. UD also has a funded MA program. IIRC, an applicant for Fall 2018 who had applied as a PhD candidate was offered admission to the MA program (as a consolation after being rejected as a PhD applicant for the cycle; info vis-a-vis the results forum here).  

---

Also, to add my experience to the discussion of POIs...before applying, I reached out to at least ONE and up to THREE faculty per program whose research interests overlapped with mine. For me, it was either a clearly positive or clearly negative response from the POIs and this was an enormous help in focusing me on my application materials. If you can show your professionalism, your scholarly interests and acumen, and try to come off as a genuine human being through a digital medium, you're helping both sides (you and the POI) in the stressful and prolonged application process. Most faculty will be delighted to engage with (a certain amount of) student fascination with their research and the program, but the application process, rightfully so, has many more levels than potential adviser-advisee compatibility.

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To add to the POI discussion, I'm only applying to places where I've gotten a positive response from one or two POIs. I figured that that would be the best way to go about it. Even if it doesn't automatically mean I'm getting accepted (which I know it doesn't), it was still nice to use the responses to get an idea of where I should apply. 

Edited by historygeek

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On 6/14/2018 at 7:56 PM, centinel said:

I am currently gearing up for my second year of an M.A. program, and I'm planning on applying to PhD programs in the fall. My primary interests are in early American political and constitutional history (I gravitate mostly toward the Revolution and the early republic, although I also have secondary interests in colonial America and the British empire). 

I applied to a couple of top-tier PhD programs right out of undergrad, but I didn't really have a clear research agenda and I consequently failed to identify programs and advisors whose strengths closely matched my interests. My research interests and understanding of the field have become significantly clearer in the last couple of years, so hopefully this round of applying to doctoral programs will go more smoothly.

I fared reasonably well on the GRE a couple of years ago (although not quite as well as I would have liked). I think my scores should be satisfactory enough to adcoms, so I'm primarily focusing on writing a solid M.A. thesis.

So far, my list of prospective schools/ advisors is:

UCLA (Yirush)

Ohio State (Brooke)

Boston University (McConville)

Maryland (Brewer)

Notre Dame (Griffin)

New Hampshire (Gould)

Indiana (Knott/Irvin)

South Carolina (Holton)

Missouri (Pasley)

Any fellow Early Americanists out there?

Hey! I'm currently finishing my MA at UMD. I am not in American history so I don't know Brewer but feel free to ask about the program in general, the location, etc.

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7 hours ago, historygeek said:

To add to the POI discussion, I'm only applying to places where I've gotten a positive response from one or two POIs. I figured that that would be the best way to go about it. Even if it doesn't automatically mean I'm getting accepted (which I know it doesn't), it was still nice to use the responses to get an idea of where I should apply. 

This is a great idea. If a POI doesn't respond to repeated inquiries, it's not a good sign. 

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On 7/5/2018 at 12:49 PM, Zergonomic said:

Hey all! Very new to this forum (just joined up today) and I thought this would be a good place to both introduce myself and to get some advice about my grad school journey. Currently, I am a senior at a state school in New York. I'm interested in studying the intersections of American immigration at the turn of the century and food culture. I am also interested in religious minorities in the United States during the 19th century as well as US immigration history more broadly. I wrote a paper last year about anti-Mormon literature during the antebellum period that I intend to present this fall and potentially use as my writing sample. This is my current list of schools I intend to apply to, but it is by no means exhaustive and I am very open to feedback and suggestions:

- SUNY Albany

- University of Deleware

- Rutgers

- University of Minnesota

Good luck everyone :) Feel free to PM me to get to know me or if you have any advice you'd like to share. 

I hate to sound like a broken record, but please do yourself the favor of examining each program's placement record before you apply. The goal is not to get into grad school, it's to have a job after grad school.

Rutgers and Minnesota are good,  not elite programs. I would be very surprised if many recent graduates from Albany or Delaware had TT jobs.

Edited by psstein

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13 minutes ago, psstein said:

I hate to sound like a broken record, but please do yourself the favor of examining each program's placement record before you apply. The goal is not to get into grad school, it's to have a job after grad school.

Rutgers and Minnesota are good,  not elite programs. I would be very surprised if many recent graduates from Albany or Delaware had TT jobs.

To add to this, you need to apply to Columbia-- they have an incredible set of historians working on immigration.  Because it's such a crapshoot, do yourself a favor, apply and see what happens.

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On 7/5/2018 at 12:49 PM, Zergonomic said:

Hey all! Very new to this forum (just joined up today) and I thought this would be a good place to both introduce myself and to get some advice about my grad school journey. Currently, I am a senior at a state school in New York. I'm interested in studying the intersections of American immigration at the turn of the century and food culture. I am also interested in religious minorities in the United States during the 19th century as well as US immigration history more broadly. I wrote a paper last year about anti-Mormon literature during the antebellum period that I intend to present this fall and potentially use as my writing sample. This is my current list of schools I intend to apply to, but it is by no means exhaustive and I am very open to feedback and suggestions:

- SUNY Albany

- University of Deleware

- Rutgers

- University of Minnesota

Good luck everyone :) Feel free to PM me to get to know me or if you have any advice you'd like to share. 

I would add NYU. The 19th c faculty is strong

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10 hours ago, psstein said:

I hate to sound like a broken record, but please do yourself the favor of examining each program's placement record before you apply. The goal is not to get into grad school, it's to have a job after grad school.

Rutgers and Minnesota are good,  not elite programs. I would be very surprised if many recent graduates from Albany or Delaware had TT jobs.

Glad someone else took this job this year.

Rutgers is moving up a lot, I think. Like NYU, they're chucking some major money around, and I think we'll see the result in the job market shortly if we haven't already.

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1 hour ago, telkanuru said:

I think we'll see the result in the job market shortly if we haven't already.

For whatever it's worth, New Hampshire just hired a recent NYU PhD in Middle Eastern history this past fall. Given the list programs the majority of that department has come out of, it very well may point to that move upwards.

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Hey, everyone. I know we had talked about swapping SOPs, so I thought I'd throw mine into the ring. Links to mine are all here , and I'll update the post as I get mine done!

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How does one convincingly answer the SOP question about "your reasons for pursuing graduate study?" The obvious answer is that you pursue graduate study in history because you want an academic career in history. But doesn't that obvious answer feel exceptionally... obvious? 

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11 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Glad someone else took this job this year.

Rutgers is moving up a lot, I think. Like NYU, they're chucking some major money around, and I think we'll see the result in the job market shortly if we haven't already.

Hey, someone else has to sound the alarm! If it's just you, people shut their ears.

I haven't heard much in my history of science/medicine enclave. On my end, Michigan State is really building up their program, whereas others (e.g. Indiana HPS) have slipped from the top echelons. It's also a bit of a commentary on the field's direction. Indiana was a long-time enclave for medieval science (Grant and Newman most notably), which almost nobody in the US works on (Shank, Swerdlow, Kremer, Newman, etc., most of whom are now retired, with Bill's exception).

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4 hours ago, Balleu said:

How does one convincingly answer the SOP question about "your reasons for pursuing graduate study?" The obvious answer is that you pursue graduate study in history because you want an academic career in history. But doesn't that obvious answer feel exceptionally... obvious? 

Yes.  Just a formality :)

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@Zergonomic and @historygeek and others interested in immigration history, you'll want to take a look at Michigan State.  They have really been building up their Migration history program.  One of my grad colleagues took a job there several years ago while I know a colleague there who is a grad student who can't stop talking about its growth.

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6 hours ago, Balleu said:

How does one convincingly answer the SOP question about "your reasons for pursuing graduate study?" The obvious answer is that you pursue graduate study in history because you want an academic career in history. But doesn't that obvious answer feel exceptionally... obvious? 

Not only is the obvious answer the right one, but in fact if you have other plans for your PhD--working at a non-profit, curating a museum, consulting, teaching at a private high school, etc.--you should keep them to yourself (unless you're applying to a public history program or something similar). Younger academics tend to be more understanding of the realities of the job market and flexible in their views of the purpose of grad school, but many older historians would see an interest in careers outside of traditional academia as a giant red flag and dismiss you as a drop-out risk.

Edited by L13

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14 hours ago, historygeek said:

Hey, everyone. I know we had talked about swapping SOPs, so I thought I'd throw mine into the ring. Links to mine are all here , and I'll update the post as I get mine done!

I might fall into a minority here, but I was bored by the end of your first paragraphs. There was no hook that drew me to your SOP. You hit all the necessary points (fit, research, questions, etc), but there has to still be a bit of you and your style. If you apply to all of the programs listed, then you need to draw the committee in and keep their attention because most committees will be looking for a reason to drop your application, not accept it. Right now, I suggest taking a break from writing SOPs and getting some distance. Your statements are great starting points, but need to be refined (in my opinion) for style. In 3-4 weeks, come back to your SOPs and re-read them with a very critical eye.

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4 hours ago, Tigla said:

I might fall into a minority here, but I was bored by the end of your first paragraphs. There was no hook that drew me to your SOP. You hit all the necessary points (fit, research, questions, etc), but there has to still be a bit of you and your style. If you apply to all of the programs listed, then you need to draw the committee in and keep their attention because most committees will be looking for a reason to drop your application, not accept it. Right now, I suggest taking a break from writing SOPs and getting some distance. Your statements are great starting points, but need to be refined (in my opinion) for style. In 3-4 weeks, come back to your SOPs and re-read them with a very critical eye.

Also @historygeek I think I mentioned a while ago that Nolan has retired, so I'd take her name out of the NYU one (trust me, she is not taking on new students, she has cleared out her office, I have some of her old books, etc). Gordon is not taking new students and is about to retire at any minute. Sugrue doesn't make that much sense to me, but Michele Mitchell does. It might be worth getting a better sense of the faculty. First paragraph-wise try to avoid very broad statements like, "I want to reframe immigrant narratives from a cultural perspective while juxtaposing it within a broader social context." That's very non-specific. See if you can use the first paragraph to show the adcom that you have a burning (very specific, interesting) question (because that shows them that you know how to formulate a question). 

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5 hours ago, Tigla said:

I might fall into a minority here, but I was bored by the end of your first paragraphs. There was no hook that drew me to your SOP. You hit all the necessary points (fit, research, questions, etc), but there has to still be a bit of you and your style.

 

I've seen from multiple sources that there shouldn't be a "hook," but that it should be research-oriented. I've also had someone tell me that my SOPs are "too personal." Do you have any recommendations for striking a balance?

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12 minutes ago, historygeek said:

I've seen from multiple sources that there shouldn't be a "hook," but that it should be research-oriented. I've also had someone tell me that my SOPs are "too personal." Do you have any recommendations for striking a balance?

Try for a research-focused hook, as you'll do when you write applications for grant money, etc.

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57 minutes ago, historygeek said:

I've seen from multiple sources that there shouldn't be a "hook," but that it should be research-oriented. I've also had someone tell me that my SOPs are "too personal." Do you have any recommendations for striking a balance?

As @OHSP said above, go for a research hook. In my case, my opening paragraph uses my experiences in Cambodia as an English teacher to question binaries in the historical literature on development aid programs and human rights. It is less formal, but it grasps the committee's attention (at least I hope it does) and shows that I have thought about my research questions despite being out of university for a year. In general, you do not want to write a literary and fictional hook, but you need to grab the attention of the committee within the first paragraph. Otherwise, your application will be going in the bin; especially, since you are applying to some of the most selective programs in the US.

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On 7/8/2018 at 2:12 AM, psstein said:

I hate to sound like a broken record, but please do yourself the favor of examining each program's placement record before you apply. The goal is not to get into grad school, it's to have a job after grad school.

Rutgers and Minnesota are good,  not elite programs. I would be very surprised if many recent graduates from Albany or Delaware had TT jobs.

It seems like you know something about these programs. What areas seem to do well at Minnesota?

I've tried researching a bit. It seems not to do so well in American history, but I could be wrong. I can't draw conclusions on some other areas, though. 

Edited by hellocharlie

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1 hour ago, hellocharlie said:

It seems like you know something about these programs. What areas seem to do well at Minnesota?

I've tried researching a bit. It seems not to do so well in American history, but I could be wrong. I can't draw conclusions on some other areas, though. 

I don't know much about them outside their placements, and in a few cases, departmental culture. I would suspect that French historians do very well at Minnesota (Shank is outstanding). Scandanavian historians likely do okay, as well. I would not go there for history of science. Their faculty are good, but the program is a total wreck, scattered across 3-4 departments with little funding.

In many of these places, I know more about the problems vs. the good things. It's just the nature of the field. People are more likely to complain (esp. over drinks) than they are to bring the good up.

Your comment "I can't draw conclusions on some other areas" is one of the large flaws of the major extant study. It only focuses on American history. Honestly, the best way to find out about programs is to try to hunt down recent graduates' dissertations. It's a bit time-consuming, but it can be worth it.

Edited by psstein

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