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How important is MA teaching experience when applying to doctoral programs?


ElvisShrugged
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Long story short, my MA application prospects are extremely limited due to a number of various, personal reasons. However, I was accepted in to an MA English program at Grand Valley State University, a moderately sized state school in Michigan that specializes in nursing and business. The English department offers what they call a "boutique program" designed for working professionals, with only four part-time assistantships available ($2,000 stipend). None of the assistantships offer opportunities to teach, and none of the courses in the program cover pedagogy. But right now, it's my only option (and there's an extremely good chance I could secure one of the assistantships). 

To expand on my question a bit, if I earned my MA at such a school, without teaching experience, am I essentially shooting myself in the foot when it comes time to apply for doctoral programs? I'm really at a loss as to how to move forward here — either do what's best right now, or wait and see what opportunities arise in the future. At 36, I'm not getting any younger.

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While I can't speak to the possible negative impact of no teaching experience in your field I am wondering if there aren't other options you're unaware of.  It would surprise me if there have never been former students that desired teaching experience which resulted in creative solutions.  Is there another department (perhaps interdisciplinary or related field) that might have such opportunities?  Are students allowed to regularly guest lecture or teach a particular module of a courses content?  Could there be opportunities at a nearby community college or high school?  If you haven't already, I think its worth asking faculty and current students in this program and possible options or the willingness to create them.

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On 4/12/2019 at 11:11 AM, ElvisShrugged said:

To expand on my question a bit, if I earned my MA at such a school, without teaching experience, am I essentially shooting myself in the foot when it comes time to apply for doctoral programs? 

It will depend upon the culture of the department and the preferences of those making admissions decisions. For better and worse, many academics simply do not like teaching and some cast a suspicious eye upon those who do (or appear to).

I recommend that you start looking at the departmental websites of doctoral programs. Take a look at the CVs of professors of interest. To what extent do their careers emphasize teaching? Are they earning awards? Is their service to the profession centered around teaching and mentoring? Or are they publish or perish 24/7?

FWIW, there are many threads that discuss the ups and downs of teaching while doing course work. The discussions include the benefits of teaching and the potential impact of losing time to focus on one's primary responsibilities.

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