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history45678

History MA Programs

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Posted (edited)

I'm fairly new to grad cafe so sorry if I'm doing this wrong but I need some advice. I'm an aspiring history professor but I only have one language under my belt (French) and know that I definitely need to pick up Latin before applying to Ph.D. programs. I also have an average undergraduate background and would like to improve my chances of getting into a top 30 history Ph.D. program. That being said, I realize that some of the programs I'm applying to will be a reach. I'm looking into getting my MA in either history or medieval studies.  I'll detail some of my academic background below 

Some of my research interests: Medieval and early modern Europe, Women/gender/sexuality (this is the most prominent), Historical theology/church history, historical perceptions of witchcraft and magic, history of literature and culture (specifically Arthurian studies, folklore, and fairytales), female monarchs 

GPA: 3.58 (with a strong upward trend and a 3.85 history GPA). 

Other: haven't taken the GRE yet, currently completing an undergraduate honors thesis relevant to what I want to study in graduate school, participated in a study abroad research program which excavated medieval ruins in Italy 

TLDR: I'm looking into history and medieval studies MA programs and would like feedback if anyone has knowledge about the reputation of these programs or can recommend others. 

History MAs:

-Baylor University 

-University of Missouri (although the POI I'm looking into doesn't seem to be taking students at the moment) 

-University of New Mexico

-Syracuse 

-Clemson

-Colorado at Boulder 

-UNC Charlotte 

-Tufts

-Claremont

-U Chicago MAPSS (I've heard so many mixed reviews on this program) 

-St. Andrews (also looking into other UK programs but I'm not sure I can afford it) 

Medieval Studies: 

-U Conn

-Fordham 

-Colombia

-SMU

-St. Andrews

Edited by history45678

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Make sure those MA programs are funded.  

Given your interests, I'd contact Sara Butler at Ohio State whose interests overlap with yours in many ways (her geographic specialty is Britain). I'd reach out to her and see what kind of advice and direction she can give you.

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Posted (edited)

I didn't dig too deep into Master's programs, but I do know that both Western Michigan and British Columbia offer some fundings (TAships in case of UBC) and have a rather decent medieval faculty. WMU even hosts the annual international medieval congress.

If I were you, I'd think twice before applying to one of Columbia's Master's programs - they're crazy expansive FWIK. 

Edited by MARTINt

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Posted (edited)

Thank you both. I'll definitely look into those programs and Dr. Butler! I have the same concern about Colombia especially since the cost of living would be insane. 

Edited by history45678

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The more seasoned posters here are probably tired of me banging on about languages for medievalists, but let's start there. Any PhD program of quality - and there's no reason to attend a PhD program which is not quality - will be looking for two modern research languages, typically French and German, in addition to Latin. They will have an abundance of candidates who meet this criteria. Exceptions to this rule usually come if an applicant has very good Latin but no French (everyone thinks French is very easy to acquire quickly), or if they have mastery of an unusual language (Greek, Arabic, Old Church Slavonic, whatever). 

These requirements exist for a very good reason: they are a starting place, and you will usually find you need to learn more languages as you continue your studies. Since my admission, I've picked up reading fluency in Spanish, Dutch, and Italian, for example. Without these skills, you can't get your head around the literature you need or do good work, nor can you work with primary sources. And that's why the requirements mark a program of quality - those who do not have the requirement are taking students who are not well-prepared to succeed. 

I say all this to highlight the point that language acquisition must be your primary goal before you apply to PhD programs, and that you should feel that you need to acquire not only Latin, but also German. Further, Latin is hard for most people to master. Even with 2 years of Latin in your MA, you will probably have to continue working on it as you go for your PhD. Finally, if you're still in the early stages of acquiring Latin, you can't really use it to work with primary sources, meaning you will have a weak writing sample. Consequently, I would advise that you take a year (or even two!) before you apply to MA programs working in the world and picking up the skills you need.

To your specific question on which MA programs, UCBoulder, Fordham, UChicago MAPSS, and St. Andrews are good programs, and I know a lot of people who have graduated from them to continue on to PhD programs. I don't have a fantastic opinion of WMU's program, but it's not the worst. Avoid Columbia.

I would add the following programs: UCLA (I think this still exists), Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard Divinity, Yale/Yale Div. 

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3 hours ago, telkanuru said:

The more seasoned posters here are probably tired of me banging on about languages for medievalists, but let's start there. Any PhD program of quality - and there's no reason to attend a PhD program which is not quality - will be looking for two modern research languages, typically French and German, in addition to Latin. They will have an abundance of candidates who meet this criteria. Exceptions to this rule usually come if an applicant has very good Latin but no French (everyone thinks French is very easy to acquire quickly), or if they have mastery of an unusual language (Greek, Arabic, Old Church Slavonic, whatever). 

These requirements exist for a very good reason: they are a starting place, and you will usually find you need to learn more languages as you continue your studies. Since my admission, I've picked up reading fluency in Spanish, Dutch, and Italian, for example. Without these skills, you get your head around the literature you need or do good work, nor can you work with primary sources. And that's why the requirements mark a program of quality - those who do not have the requirement are taking students who are not well-prepared to succeed. 

I say all this to highlight the point that language acquisition must be your primary goal before you apply to PhD programs, and that you should feel that you need to acquire not only Latin, but also German. Further, Latin is hard for most people to master. Even with 2 years of Latin in your MA, you will probably have to continue working on it as you go for your PhD. Finally, if you're still in the early stages of acquiring Latin, you can't really use it to work with primary sources, meaning you will have a weak writing sample. Consequently, I would advise that you take a year (or even two!) before you apply to MA programs working in the world and picking up the skills you need.

 To your specific question on which MA programs, UCBoulder, Fordham, UChicago MAPSS, and St. Andrews are good programs, and I know a lot of people who have graduated from them to continue on to PhD programs. I don't have a fantastic opinion of WMU's program, but it's not the worst. Avoid Columbia.

I would add the following programs: UCLA (I think this still exists), Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard Divinity, Yale/Yale Div. 

I'm a rising senior and I'm currently trying to enroll in Latin the next two semesters. I'm definitely prioritizing languages before applying but you're right that I probably won't have enough time in my current plan. I've thought about taking a gap year but I'm considering how I could best spend it. I'll definitely look into Oxford and Cambridge. UCLA, Harvard, and Yale no longer have the terminal MA programs. However, I will look into their divinity schools which do offer terminal MAs even though they would be major reach schools for me. Thank you SO much for your help!

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@telkanuru is on the mark, as usual. I would probably add CUA into your list, as I said elsewhere. I believe they have a good medieval history program, as well as some funded MA places. I, too, would counsel avoiding Columbia.

I slightly disagree with him as to Latin. It depends what you're working on and how easily you acquire languages, but it's not impossible to do something worthwhile with less Latin than you may think. That being said, my knowledge comes largely from working on medieval astronomy, which has a pretty limited vocabulary. Most historians of science who "know Latin" know it well enough to muddle through it with a dictionary and a grammar. I imagine that it's a bit different for dedicated medievalists.

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2 hours ago, psstein said:

@telkanuru is on the mark, as usual. I would probably add CUA into your list, as I said elsewhere. I believe they have a good medieval history program, as well as some funded MA places. I, too, would counsel avoiding Columbia.

I slightly disagree with him as to Latin. It depends what you're working on and how easily you acquire languages, but it's not impossible to do something worthwhile with less Latin than you may think. That being said, my knowledge comes largely from working on medieval astronomy, which has a pretty limited vocabulary. Most historians of science who "know Latin" know it well enough to muddle through it with a dictionary and a grammar. I imagine that it's a bit different for dedicated medievalists.

For sure crossing Colombia off my list. Hopefully, I can still get into a Latin class the next two semesters so I have at least a baseline understanding. My interests span from medieval to the beginning of the early modern era. Maybe I can look into what research interests of mine aren't as language heavy. 

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8 hours ago, history45678 said:

For sure crossing Colombia off my list. Hopefully, I can still get into a Latin class the next two semesters so I have at least a baseline understanding. My interests span from medieval to the beginning of the early modern era. Maybe I can look into what research interests of mine aren't as language heavy. 

To be a competitive applicant for early modern, you'll probably need Latin. In total honesty, though, I didn't have much Latin when I applied to do early modern history of science, but I do know French exceedingly well (I've had 8 years of French education and near fluency in reading). I would also advise some type of self-study if possible. There are several good books (Wheelock's is the standard textbook) for teaching oneself Latin.

I would also encourage you to think about how you'd position yourself among the current trends of your fields of interest. Please don't take this the wrong way, but the job market for medieval Europe alone is not particularly robust. The early modern job market is better, but if you're doing strictly Early Modern Europe, you're going to encounter some problems. Most of the jobs right now are something like "Europe and the world." 

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16 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Avoid Columbia.

DISAGREE. I did Columbia Med/Ren and it was AMAZING (Can't speak to the History-specific programs but there are multiple people from my program who did the LSE/Columbia program. I'm in a top 10 History program for late medieval/early modern. Everyone who who went to Columbia Med/Ren and chose to go onto a PhD program has gotten into top programs. 

NYC is obviously expensive, but all things being even, it's a tremendous program. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, psstein said:

To be a competitive applicant for early modern, you'll probably need Latin. In total honesty, though, I didn't have much Latin when I applied to do early modern history of science, but I do know French exceedingly well (I've had 8 years of French education and near fluency in reading). I would also advise some type of self-study if possible. There are several good books (Wheelock's is the standard textbook) for teaching oneself Latin.

I would also encourage you to think about how you'd position yourself among the current trends of your fields of interest. Please don't take this the wrong way, but the job market for medieval Europe alone is not particularly robust. The early modern job market is better, but if you're doing strictly Early Modern Europe, you're going to encounter some problems. Most of the jobs right now are something like "Europe and the world." 

I’ll probably purchase that textbook and look into summer Latin intensives. I’m thinking I probably need to hone into my early modern interests. I’ll look into how I can apply my current interests to other areas. I’ve focused on Europe for so I need to expand my research interests for sure.

Edited by history45678

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1 hour ago, Manuscriptess said:

DISAGREE. I did Columbia Med/Ren and it was AMAZING (Can't speak to the History-specific programs but there are multiple people from my program who did the LSE/Columbia program. I'm in a top 10 History program for late medieval/early modern. Everyone who who went to Columbia Med/Ren and chose to go onto a PhD program has gotten into top programs. 

NYC is obviously expensive, but all things being even, it's a tremendous program. 

Yeah I am concerned about the costs of the program/relocating to NYC. That is heartening to hear that many of its graduates have done well though 

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4 hours ago, Manuscriptess said:

DISAGREE. I did Columbia Med/Ren and it was AMAZING (Can't speak to the History-specific programs but there are multiple people from my program who did the LSE/Columbia program. I'm in a top 10 History program for late medieval/early modern. Everyone who who went to Columbia Med/Ren and chose to go onto a PhD program has gotten into top programs. 

I'm really happy you've done well! I've just heard too many horror stories, personally.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, history45678 said:

I’ll probably purchase that textbook and look into summer Latin intensives. I’m thinking I probably need to hone into my early modern interests. I’ll look into how I can apply my current interests to other areas. I’ve focused on Europe for so I need to expand my research interests for sure.

Toronto has an intensive Medieval Latin program, but I know very little about it beyond that. You're probably a bit better off learning classical Latin and then moving to Medieval rather than the other way around... many Renaissance texts eschew Medieval Latin and attempt to classicize their Latin. As you can probably imagine, this happened with varying degrees of success. Some texts read like Cicero, while others are much more like reading a very badly jumbled maze.

As for honing your early modern interests, there's a lot of great global early modern work. Again, my own bias is coming through here, but Cook's Matters of Exchange is a great read.

Edited by psstein

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On 5/27/2019 at 9:52 AM, Manuscriptess said:

DISAGREE. I did Columbia Med/Ren and it was AMAZING (Can't speak to the History-specific programs but there are multiple people from my program who did the LSE/Columbia program. I'm in a top 10 History program for late medieval/early modern. Everyone who who went to Columbia Med/Ren and chose to go onto a PhD program has gotten into top programs. 

NYC is obviously expensive, but all things being even, it's a tremendous program. 

Do you know if there is any funding offered to MA students? Their website didn't say 

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May I suggest Villanova? I'm going to be specializing in Medieval history and am doing the European history concentration in their Masters program this fall. I received a full tuition scholarship and a graduate assistant position in their Center for Research and Fellowships.

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13 hours ago, psstein said:

Some texts read like Cicero, while others are much more like reading a very badly jumbled maze.

Until you try Merovingian Latin, you are yet still a sweet summer child ☠️

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8 hours ago, historygeek said:

May I suggest Villanova? I'm going to be specializing in Medieval history and am doing the European history concentration in their Masters program this fall. I received a full tuition scholarship and a graduate assistant position in their Center for Research and Fellowships.

That's amazing! I'll definitely look into that program. Substantial MA funding seems so scarce 😅

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6 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Until you try Merovingian Latin, you are yet still a sweet summer child ☠️

Most of my undergrad was devoted to academic study of the New Testament. I've translated passages and said "these words don't make sense as presented." Whoever wrote Revelation could barely write in Greek.

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Studii fuit apud ueteribus et eruditissimis uiris ut eorum quorum miracula sanctis actibus pollere cernebant sagaci studio Christo auspice sine quo nihil boni agitur stilo promulgarent quatinus de praecedentium meritis imitando uel memoriae commendando uentura sobolis gloriaretur

 

 

(It was a thing of passion among old and most learned men, that they should make known by the pen those among them, the miracles of whom they discerned with keen insight and by Christ’s help (without whom nothing good may come to pass) to be strong in holiness, since future generations might win themselves glory by imitating the good works of their ancestors and by being entrusted with their memory.)

Just FYI.

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OP, check out Miami University. They have a funded MA history program and a couple of people working on Early Modern stuff.

Also, there is a post with a list of funded MA programs somewhere on this forum. You may want to go through the list and see if any of the programs have your areas of interest. 

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14 hours ago, history45678 said:

That's amazing! I'll definitely look into that program. Substantial MA funding seems so scarce 😅

It is! If you have any questions about the program, specifically admissions, feel free to PM me.

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