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Fart_of_War

UChicago MPPSS or MAPH?

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Hello my friends. I am currently considering applying to UChicago's MA programs. However, I am hesitant about which one to apply to. A bit of background: I previously studied political science in the US but want to transition into early Chinese history. I am a Chinese natioanal, have been reading Chinese history my whole life, and am capable of using Chinese sources in my own writing (I am currently a columnist). However, I did not take a single class on Chinese history in my undergraduate years because I thought they were simply too easy. The consequence is that I have no way of proving my knowledge of the subject. I previously applied to UPenn's MA program of Chinese studies and was rejected because, it was explained to me by the program director, that I did not have years of training in the field (everything else was just fine, he so assured me). My questions are:

 

1. Which program do you think is of higher quality, MAPSS or MAPH? Even if there is only a marginal difference.

2. Which program is perceived to be of higher quality in academia?

3. Which program is most likely to offer me admission? 

 

Specifically on Question 3, I have planned out three strategies:

  3.1 Apply to MAPH honestly, saying that I wish to study early China despite not having a previous training. This feels like a reenactment of my failed application.

  3.2 Apply to MPPSS honestly, saying that I want to major in History and study early China.

  3.3 Apply to MPSS by saying that I want to major in Political Science and study modern Chinese politics but take courses on early Chinese history after getting in.

 

I cannot apply to both programs at the same time because one of my recommendors said he would provide letters for no more than four programs and I have to balance my choices. I am sure you guys will have some brilliant ideas to share. Thank you all for reading this.

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So, MAPH and MAPSS are quite different. MAPH is primarily filled with students in the following fields: art history, philosophy, English literature, linguistics, political science (theory), classics, music, cinema studies. MAPSS is much more social science oriented: anthropology, sociology, history, political science, communications, etc. If you are more focused on the social science part of things, MAPSS seems far more to fit your stated interests.

Both programs are well respected by academia, largely because of U. Chicago’s reputation.

Just be honest with MAPSS, you have a background in pol. sci, but want to transition to history. Your background sounds just like why interdisciplinary MAs exist.

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I got accepted by MAPSS this year, and believe that your background is quite enough for MAPSS. I heard that MAPSS is somehow more generous than MAPH in terms of awards, but don't expect it too much. Those with a full tuition waiver is usually capable of a Ph.D. program or even with offers from other places.

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2 hours ago, SmugSnugInARug said:

 Both programs are well respected by academia, largely because of U. Chicago’s reputation.

I wouldn't be so quick to claim this. Yes, U Chicago obviously has a strong reputation, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the reputation transfers to all programs. If you look around these boards, you'll find numerous threads arguing (for good reasons) that these programs are really cash cows for the university. (MAPSS seems to have a somewhat better reputation than MAPH in this respect). That's not to say that one can't gain a lot from one of these programs, but given the high tuition cost and low financial aid resources, it is often not an ideal situation. 

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15 minutes ago, Glasperlenspieler said:

I wouldn't be so quick to claim this. Yes, U Chicago obviously has a strong reputation, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the reputation transfers to all programs. If you look around these boards, you'll find numerous threads arguing (for good reasons) that these programs are really cash cows for the university. (MAPSS seems to have a somewhat better reputation than MAPH in this respect). That's not to say that one can't gain a lot from one of these programs, but given the high tuition cost and low financial aid resources, it is often not an ideal situation. 

Yes, that reputation as a cash cow is certainly true, but that’s also a reputation that most largely unfunded MAs have.

However, I was largely speaking about the reputation of those programs re: quality of education, value of degree compared to other institutions (both for getting hired and for acceptance into other degree granting programs). 

Because the reality is when you walk away from a program, other people don’t see your financial situation, they see your degree. And the op was asking about the reputation of the institution, not about evaluating the financial elements of it.

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1 hour ago, SmugSnugInARug said:

Yes, that reputation as a cash cow is certainly true, but that’s also a reputation that most largely unfunded MAs have.

However, I was largely speaking about the reputation of those programs re: quality of education, value of degree compared to other institutions (both for getting hired and for acceptance into other degree granting programs). 

 Because the reality is when you walk away from a program, other people don’t see your financial situation, they see your degree. And the op was asking about the reputation of the institution, not about evaluating the financial elements of it.

I could be convinced otherwise, but it's not obvious to me that a program's reputation as a cash cow is unrelated to it's reputation in terms of placement.

Furthermore, while prestige can be very important when considering PhD programs, I tend to think it's less important for an MA. I'd take a funded 2 years masters from a less prestigious university over a paid masters from an elite institution any day, but that's just me...

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Unfortunately, it seems to me that these are both programs designed to bring in large amounts of money to U. Chicago, all while depriving the students of valuable resources. At a place like U. Chicago, it isn't likely that Master's students will receive nearly as much attention as Ph.D. candidates. Moreover, placement from the MAPH into philosophy Ph.D. programs are poor, especially given the putative eminence of the University of Chicago. 

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On 4/9/2019 at 11:20 PM, The_Last_Thylacine said:

Unfortunately, it seems to me that these are both programs designed to bring in large amounts of money to U. Chicago, all while depriving the students of valuable resources. At a place like U. Chicago, it isn't likely that Master's students will receive nearly as much attention as Ph.D. candidates. Moreover, placement from the MAPH into philosophy Ph.D. programs are poor, especially given the putative eminence of the University of Chicago. 

That’s incorrect. First off, the ‘cash cow’ bit is only mildly true, but not any more than any other unfunded MA programs. Which, granted, should all be free, but to lay that at the feet of U. Chicago is to blame an instance for a trend. Additionally, as someone who DID pay (and still is paying) for MAPH, its worth it. Seriously.

Secondly, the resources provided to U. Chi MA students are incredible, I still get weekly emails of potential jobs. Not only do you get the full support of the MAPH/MAPSS faculty, but you also get the immense resources of U. Chicago itself, which is a massive global network. As for direct attention for MA students: it varies mostly by professor, but the vast majority of them are extremely helpful and do actually have time for MA students. I met with most of my professors regularly, including people like Marion and Pippin. And, if that attention isn’t enough, you have 1. A post-doc, in your general area, who has been hired literally to help your small group (6-10) succeed. Plus, and I cannot stress this enough, the community formed by each cohort is incredible. I’m still incredibly close with many of the people from my year, and at my current job, 6 of the 18 people who work in my department are MAPH alums. 

Placement rate into PhDs in Philosophy is also NOT poor. Of the 11 philosophy students in my year, 7 decided to apply in the year following the MA program. One is at Riverside, one is at U. Chi (in Social Thought), one is somewhere in Tennessee, one is at Western Ontario, and three of us didn‘t get it (But I have gotten in since to Duquesne). 4 out of 7 is not a bad placement rate. The issue is, in part, that the numbers get skewed because of the varying sizes of philosophy students in each class.

Now, I will admit, there is some tension between MAPH and the philosophy department, but this is mostly for two reasons: 1) MAPH students are often much more interested in continental philosophy and the history of philosophy than analytic. (I think my year was 7/4 Continental/Analytic.) Obviously this causes some tensions between the two departments, as some of the Phil. faculty are less than helpful as a result. However, the Divinity School just does Continental stuff, so for those students who wish to pursue that, there isn’t actually any issues on the ground. 2) Some of the older Philosophy faculty look down on students getting MAs, basically assuming that if you didn’t get in to the PhD you are an idiot and will never get in anywhere. There’s not a whole lot you can do about this other than to just ignore those professors, which is super easy. On a day to day level, those problems really don’t exist though. The vast majority of the faculty are not like this though.

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