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2020 application thread

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17 hours ago, norellehannah said:

Brown

You'd be aiming more towards Tara than Hal? Feel free to ping me if you have any questions.

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21 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

You'd be aiming more towards Tara than Hal? Feel free to ping me if you have any questions.

Yes, in all likelihood! I had the chance to speak with her this week; felt like a good fit :) Thank you, will definitely reach out!

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20 hours ago, norellehannah said:

I'm applying to 8 programs as of now, I would say about 4 of which feel like a really great fit.

It is never too early...

19 hours ago, norellehannah said:

there are at least 2 profs in the dept at each school who feel like perfect matches for me. 

...to start managing one's expectations.

Academic departments generally and (maybe) history departments in particular are black boxes inside of black boxes inside of boxes. The great fit/perfect match on paper can end up being a soul crushing career killing pairing that one does not see clearly until one is preparing for qualifying exams.

18 hours ago, psstein said:

 I'd recommend re-evaluating USC

Please keep in mind that Southern Cal is sorting out a number of scandals in addition to "varsity blues." IMO it is incumbent upon applicants to do a thorough due diligence. This process should include asking persons of interest and points of contact tough questions that are diplomatically phrased. What steps are the department, college, and university taking to assess the impact of these scandals on the reputation of the USC "brand" in the academic job market?

Edited by Sigaba
typo...there are likely others

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30 minutes ago, Sigaba said:

It is never too early...

...to start managing one's expectations.

Academic departments generally and (maybe) history departments in particular are black boxes inside of black boxes inside of boxes. The great fit/perfect match on paper can end up being a soul crushing career killing pairing that one does not see clearly until one is preparing for qualifying exams.

Please keep in mind that Southern Cal is sorting out a number of scandals in addition to "varsity blues." IMO it is incumbent upon applicants to do a thorough due diligence. This process should include asking persons of interest and points of contact tough questions that are diplomatically phrased. What steps are the department, college, and university taking to assess the impact of these scandals on the reputation of the USC "brand" in the academic job market?

Haha don’t worry, I live my life with low expectations! I’m very aware of the difficulty in finding a good match, especially as someone with relatively niche interests myself. I’ve been very lucky to have had some very fruitful conversations with potential advisors, as well as with numerous people who know them who I trust. Nothing more I can do but work hard on my apps, do my due diligence on people and hope for the best :) 

On USC, thank you for bringing that up! It’s definitely something I’ll be sure to be wary of. 

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Hi everyone, my question is actually more about whether it's a good idea for me to apply this cycle

I didn't get into a phd program last cycle, likely because of a weak but not terrible undergrad GPA and fairly thin primary research experience, and knew that applying to top programs was a long shot going in. I'm now in a one year MA program and very unsure about whether one semester of grad school experience will meaningfully improve my application or if it's best to just wait for next year after my thesis is done and I have my degree. I If I applied this cycle my application would be strengthened by a semester of strong grad school grades, rec letters from some professors who are more prominent in my field than my undergrad letter writers, and (hopefully) enough of my thesis done to use it as a writing sample based in real archival work. By next cycle I'll have grades from the full masters program, more experience working with the professors who are writing letters,  my completed thesis, and the degree itself. 

My area of interest is African American history relating to foreign history and empire and my top programs would be NYU, Columbia, and Emory

If anyone's had a similar experience or thoughts about how one semester of MA experience would be likely to effect or not effect the strength of my application I'd love to hear about it!

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7 hours ago, Go Weast Young Man said:

Hi everyone, my question is actually more about whether it's a good idea for me to apply this cycle

I didn't get into a phd program last cycle, likely because of a weak but not terrible undergrad GPA and fairly thin primary research experience, and knew that applying to top programs was a long shot going in. I'm now in a one year MA program and very unsure about whether one semester of grad school experience will meaningfully improve my application or if it's best to just wait for next year after my thesis is done and I have my degree. I If I applied this cycle my application would be strengthened by a semester of strong grad school grades, rec letters from some professors who are more prominent in my field than my undergrad letter writers, and (hopefully) enough of my thesis done to use it as a writing sample based in real archival work. By next cycle I'll have grades from the full masters program, more experience working with the professors who are writing letters,  my completed thesis, and the degree itself. 

My area of interest is African American history relating to foreign history and empire and my top programs would be NYU, Columbia, and Emory

If anyone's had a similar experience or thoughts about how one semester of MA experience would be likely to effect or not effect the strength of my application I'd love to hear about it!

I would definitely wait.  You need more time to establish relationships with these new professors and for them to see how you work and think like a historian. They will better able to describe you and offer more concrete examples in their letters, not a write a boiler template.  You'll also be able to present a more polished writing sample and statement of purpose.  A year away from academia in preparation for the PhD has never killed anyone-- as far as I know :)

Edited by TMP

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8 hours ago, Go Weast Young Man said:

Hi everyone, my question is actually more about whether it's a good idea for me to apply this cycle

I didn't get into a phd program last cycle, likely because of a weak but not terrible undergrad GPA and fairly thin primary research experience, and knew that applying to top programs was a long shot going in. I'm now in a one year MA program and very unsure about whether one semester of grad school experience will meaningfully improve my application or if it's best to just wait for next year after my thesis is done and I have my degree. I If I applied this cycle my application would be strengthened by a semester of strong grad school grades, rec letters from some professors who are more prominent in my field than my undergrad letter writers, and (hopefully) enough of my thesis done to use it as a writing sample based in real archival work. By next cycle I'll have grades from the full masters program, more experience working with the professors who are writing letters,  my completed thesis, and the degree itself. 

My area of interest is African American history relating to foreign history and empire and my top programs would be NYU, Columbia, and Emory

If anyone's had a similar experience or thoughts about how one semester of MA experience would be likely to effect or not effect the strength of my application I'd love to hear about it!

I recommend that you consider applying to at least one doctoral program this year if

  • You can define your interest clearly your interests.
    • Are you a historian of American foreign relations who seeks to understand better diplomatic history by studying the African American experience in relation to empires in [define place and time]?
    • Or are you a historian of the African American experience who seeks to understand how black men and women have shaped America's relationship with the world?
  • You understand the language skills you're going to need and you have (at least) a plan to acquire them.

IRT using your master's thesis as a writing sample. Please keep in mind that some departments will have page limits that will preclude the submission of the entire work as a writing sample. And some professors sitting on admissions committees will not read a word of your thesis if you also submit something shorter. So you may be better served by polishing a shorter work you're already writing--especially if that piece will inform the production of your thesis.

 

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16 hours ago, Go Weast Young Man said:


My area of interest is African American history relating to foreign history and empire and my top programs would be NYU, Columbia, and Emory

 

This is an extremely broad area of interest. It will help if you can be more specific about the questions driving your research. Also, most people doing this kind of work at NYU locate themselves in African Diaspora or Atlantic Worlds -- i.e. they're trans-nationally, trans-regionally focused. Just FYI. It might help you to frame your research area more precisely. 

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21 hours ago, Go Weast Young Man said:

My area of interest is African American history relating to foreign history and empire and my top programs would be NYU, Columbia, and Emory

 

5 hours ago, OHSP said:

This is an extremely broad area of interest. It will help if you can be more specific about the questions driving your research. 

IMO, Condoleezza Rice as an academic and governmental official working at the crossroads of multiple empires could be a historiographically sustainable topic.

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On 10/7/2019 at 5:00 AM, Go Weast Young Man said:

Hi everyone, my question is actually more about whether it's a good idea for me to apply this cycle

I didn't get into a phd program last cycle, likely because of a weak but not terrible undergrad GPA and fairly thin primary research experience, and knew that applying to top programs was a long shot going in. I'm now in a one year MA program and very unsure about whether one semester of grad school experience will meaningfully improve my application or if it's best to just wait for next year after my thesis is done and I have my degree. I If I applied this cycle my application would be strengthened by a semester of strong grad school grades, rec letters from some professors who are more prominent in my field than my undergrad letter writers, and (hopefully) enough of my thesis done to use it as a writing sample based in real archival work. By next cycle I'll have grades from the full masters program, more experience working with the professors who are writing letters,  my completed thesis, and the degree itself. 

My area of interest is African American history relating to foreign history and empire and my top programs would be NYU, Columbia, and Emory

If anyone's had a similar experience or thoughts about how one semester of MA experience would be likely to effect or not effect the strength of my application I'd love to hear about it!

Do you mean to say that you would leave the current MA to attend the PhD if accepted? Just trying to sort your timeline here.

Unless you are sinking into deep debt for that second year, I don't know how this would look either the application or later ... anyone have thoughts about that?

I will say that I have seen it done when the person moves across the world to the country/region DIRECTLY relevant to the PhD research they are taking up.

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Hi! I'm not sure if it's appropriate to post this here, but I figured I might as well ask. Pretty much, I'm not sure if it's worth applying to history phd programs because I don't know if I'd be a strong applicant . 

About me: I'm a senior at a small liberal arts college majoring in history. I love studying history and really want to pursue a phd. I'm currently working on a senior thesis about the early 20th Century United States-- particularly the Communist Party of the United States' ideology in regards to gender and the engagement/activism of women within the Communist Party. I'm broadly interested in the early 20th century-- especially the ideological, political, and cultural changes of the times. Generally, I want to study who became engaged with these massive changes, how these changes came about, and who they left behind. I'm particularly interested in how the 20th century changes relate to gender, and therefore I'm fascinated by the interaction between gender, labor activism, and cultural works. Given these interests, I'm thinking of applying to phd programs at Wisconsin, Michigan, Columbia, Berkeley, and UCLA. I know it's a long shot, so is it worth applying? FWIW, I have a strong GPA and good GRE scores. But, I'm also still an undergrad without any "real life" experience. So, if anyone has any advice/insight, I'd really appreciate it! Thanks so much!

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18 hours ago, Izzyb0616 said:

Hi! I'm not sure if it's appropriate to post this here, but I figured I might as well ask. Pretty much, I'm not sure if it's worth applying to history phd programs because I don't know if I'd be a strong applicant . 

About me: I'm a senior at a small liberal arts college majoring in history. I love studying history and really want to pursue a phd. I'm currently working on a senior thesis about the early 20th Century United States-- particularly the Communist Party of the United States' ideology in regards to gender and the engagement/activism of women within the Communist Party. I'm broadly interested in the early 20th century-- especially the ideological, political, and cultural changes of the times. Generally, I want to study who became engaged with these massive changes, how these changes came about, and who they left behind. I'm particularly interested in how the 20th century changes relate to gender, and therefore I'm fascinated by the interaction between gender, labor activism, and cultural works. Given these interests, I'm thinking of applying to phd programs at Wisconsin, Michigan, Columbia, Berkeley, and UCLA. I know it's a long shot, so is it worth applying? FWIW, I have a strong GPA and good GRE scores. But, I'm also still an undergrad without any "real life" experience. So, if anyone has any advice/insight, I'd really appreciate it! Thanks so much!

I would definitely add NYU to the list.

If you are undecided at this stage, I'd take time off, really.  It takes a long time to polish the statement of purpose and writing sample and usually deadlines are around the beginning of December to mid-December. Most people use their polished portions of their senior thesis (or master's in MA programs) for writing sample.  You want to put forward the best foot possible as entering PhD programs is still extremely competitive.  Even at places like Brandeis and GW get over 100 applications for only 3-6 spots.  Most people have found taking a year off worthwhile, especially if they haven't really had a chance to study abroad or take a gap year since high school.

Have you considered exploring the transnational links between women in the United States and in Europe, especially the Soviet Union?  Take a look and see if it's worth learning Russian, German or French as a second language. Tony Michels at Wisconsin is certainly in your area of interest (though not so much on gender but I think one of his grad students does...) and he's using Yiddish to explore the Jewish connection between the US and Soviet Russia.

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21 hours ago, Izzyb0616 said:

Hi! I'm not sure if it's appropriate to post this here, but I figured I might as well ask. Pretty much, I'm not sure if it's worth applying to history phd programs because I don't know if I'd be a strong applicant . 

About me: I'm a senior at a small liberal arts college majoring in history. I love studying history and really want to pursue a phd. I'm currently working on a senior thesis about the early 20th Century United States-- particularly the Communist Party of the United States' ideology in regards to gender and the engagement/activism of women within the Communist Party. I'm broadly interested in the early 20th century-- especially the ideological, political, and cultural changes of the times. Generally, I want to study who became engaged with these massive changes, how these changes came about, and who they left behind. I'm particularly interested in how the 20th century changes relate to gender, and therefore I'm fascinated by the interaction between gender, labor activism, and cultural works. Given these interests, I'm thinking of applying to phd programs at Wisconsin, Michigan, Columbia, Berkeley, and UCLA. I know it's a long shot, so is it worth applying? FWIW, I have a strong GPA and good GRE scores. But, I'm also still an undergrad without any "real life" experience. So, if anyone has any advice/insight, I'd really appreciate it! Thanks so much!

@Izzyb0616, welcome to the Grad Cafe.

If you will have ready a very good draft of your thesis ready to go as your writing sample and members of your committee on board to write strong LoRs, I recommend giving serious thought to applying now.

@TMP and I have been disagreeing on the wait/don't wait debate for a while. If you're inclined not to wait, do yourself a big favor and spend a hour or two figuring out why TMP suggests that you should. My reasons for suggesting that you in particular consider applying now has a lot to do with your areas of interest and the state of contemporary American politics)

Americanists studying the twentieth century often define their period of interest by decade, by decades, or interval. I recommend that you define more precisely what you mean by "early twentieth century."

Try to develop a provisional view of the relationship among gender, ideology, and culture. Academic historians reading your SoP and your thesis are going to be keenly interested in what you think about how the three fit together.

Please work on developing an in depth answer to why you want to earn a doctorate in history. Love and desire are good, a vision of the arc of your professional career is better. 

Please, as soon as possible, talk to professors in your department who know your work well about writing you LoRs for when you do apply.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks to everyone for the advice!

More specifically, my area of interest is in the role of black Americans in shaping US foreign policy, primarily in the Progressive Era, and the intersection of black foreign policy influence with the politics of international emigration. I don't know if that specificity effects anybody's advice here but if so I'd love to hear it, as well as if anyone has recommendations for other programs I should be looking at for my research area (also looking at Duke\UNC\UVA but probably wound't be applying to them this cycle either way)

And my MA program is only one year so even if I applied to doctoral programs this fall and got accepted I'd graduate before beginning

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On 10/14/2019 at 7:26 PM, Izzyb0616 said:

Hi! I'm not sure if it's appropriate to post this here, but I figured I might as well ask. Pretty much, I'm not sure if it's worth applying to history phd programs because I don't know if I'd be a strong applicant . 

About me: I'm a senior at a small liberal arts college majoring in history. I love studying history and really want to pursue a phd. I'm currently working on a senior thesis about the early 20th Century United States-- particularly the Communist Party of the United States' ideology in regards to gender and the engagement/activism of women within the Communist Party. I'm broadly interested in the early 20th century-- especially the ideological, political, and cultural changes of the times. Generally, I want to study who became engaged with these massive changes, how these changes came about, and who they left behind. I'm particularly interested in how the 20th century changes relate to gender, and therefore I'm fascinated by the interaction between gender, labor activism, and cultural works. Given these interests, I'm thinking of applying to phd programs at Wisconsin, Michigan, Columbia, Berkeley, and UCLA. I know it's a long shot, so is it worth applying? FWIW, I have a strong GPA and good GRE scores. But, I'm also still an undergrad without any "real life" experience. So, if anyone has any advice/insight, I'd really appreciate it! Thanks so much!

If you can afford the application fees and have a strong ~20-page section of your thesis/past paper you could use as a writing sample, apply to a few well-chosen programs now. There's no reason to wait if you have everything lined up already.

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Hello all! I just graduated college in May and am now applying to PhD programs for Fall 2020. I want to take a biographical approach to study people who traveled long distances in Asia before 1800 -- before nation-states and mass media shaped human understanding of the world and interactions with others.

As I fill out my application forms, I get a little confused by the CV. What would admission committees want to see on a CV? Is it an important piece within the application? Since I do not have an MA yet, I don't have publication, conferences, etc. But I do have teaching experiences, awards, and research grants. I know I can just list what I have, but I wonder whether there is a way to *work on my CV* to make it clear, on-point, and appealing. Does anyone have suggestions? 

Thank you and very happy to meet you all! 

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3 hours ago, anbri said:

Hello all! I just graduated college in May and am now applying to PhD programs for Fall 2020. I want to take a biographical approach to study people who traveled long distances in Asia before 1800 -- before nation-states and mass media shaped human understanding of the world and interactions with others.

As I fill out my application forms, I get a little confused by the CV. What would admission committees want to see on a CV? Is it an important piece within the application? Since I do not have an MA yet, I don't have publication, conferences, etc. But I do have teaching experiences, awards, and research grants. I know I can just list what I have, but I wonder whether there is a way to *work on my CV* to make it clear, on-point, and appealing. Does anyone have suggestions? 

Thank you and very happy to meet you all! 

Teaching experience, awards, and grants are great cv entries for an applicant straight out of undergrad. I was in a similar position, and I also included work experience, languages, and relevant coursework as cv categories. Ultimately, i don’t think the cv matters much, as they’ll determine your readiness for the program on the basis of your SoP/writing sample/LoRs. 

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On 10/28/2019 at 3:40 AM, AfricanusCrowther said:

Teaching experience, awards, and grants are great cv entries for an applicant straight out of undergrad. I was in a similar position, and I also included work experience, languages, and relevant coursework as cv categories. Ultimately, i don’t think the cv matters much, as they’ll determine your readiness for the program on the basis of your SoP/writing sample/LoRs. 

Thank you very much! That's also how I felt -- the cv probably doesn't matter very much, just to provide some background information about myself:)

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Do I have any chance?

Hi, guys!

My research interests are pretty unusual when it comes to the historiography produced in the US: The Early Modern Luso-Atlantic world, specifically the political and intellectual History of that time-geographic frame.

I'll apply to the Ph.D. in History programs of Notre Dame and Rice University this year. I'm very excited about my chances, although my low GRE scores (149 Verbal, 145 Quant, 3.5 AWA). Luckily Notre Dame neither Rice has minimum requirements for GRE scores. 

My applications strenghts are:

I- 4 years of research experience (both funded and voluntary)

II- Teaching experience

III- Strong recomendation letters from professors with whom I work very closely with

IV- Fluent Portuguese (mother tongue) and Spanish

V- Advanced Latin reading skills 

VI- Overall undergrad GPA 3.0

VII- Pursuing a M.A. with excellent grades

VIII- Already contacted the professors that I want to work with and they encouraged me to apply. One of them I met in person here in Rio de Janeiro, and we had a terrific two hour long conversation (the professor from Rice). 

Anyone applying to Notre Dame and/or Rice

Edited by LucasL

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On 11/4/2019 at 12:14 AM, LucasL said:

Do I have any chance?

Hi, guys!

My research interests are pretty unusual when it comes to the historiography produced in the US: The Early Modern Luso-Atlantic world, specifically the political and intellectual History of that time-geographic frame.

I'll apply to the Ph.D. in History programs of Notre Dame and Rice University this year. I'm very excited about my chances, although my low GRE scores (149 Verbal, 145 Quant, 3.5 AWA). Luckily Notre Dame neither Rice has minimum requirements for GRE scores. 

My applications strenghts are:

I- 4 years of research experience (both funded and voluntary)

II- Teaching experience

III- Strong recomendation letters from professors with whom I work very closely with

IV- Fluent Portuguese (mother tongue) and Spanish

V- Advanced Latin reading skills 

VI- Overall undergrad GPA 3.0

VII- Pursuing a M.A. with excellent grades

VIII- Already contacted the professors that I want to work with and they encouraged me to apply. One of them I met in person here in Rio de Janeiro, and we had a terrific two hour long conversation (the professor from Rice). 

Anyone applying to Notre Dame and/or Rice

It's really all about how you sell your project--grades are not so important. Can you be more specific about your research interests? And why not apply to NYU? 

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2 hours ago, OHSP said:

It's really all about how you sell your project--grades are not so important.

Eeeh, those grades and GRE would be a pretty immediate desk reject at most places. Grades are one of those things that don't matter except if you don't have them.

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3 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Eeeh, those grades and GRE would be a pretty immediate desk reject at most places. Grades are one of those things that don't matter except if you don't have them.

The GRE fits in the same category. Much like, for example, LoRs, GRE scores cannot make an application in and of themselves, but they can definitely break it. An adcom will likely throw an application with a 149 verbal GRE in the trash.

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Applications to these programs are so competitive, and there are so many qualitative reasons to reject someone on the basis of their written materials, that I simply don't think we can know the relationship between GPA/GRE and acceptance. (Even if we could infer a correlation based on GradCafe results statistics between low GPA and rejection, it's possible that students who get bad grades in undergrad produce poorer written materials, perhaps because they've received poorer support from mentors.) Even insider knowledge into a particular department's application process wouldn't tell you about broader trends. Contrast with law school applications, where there is an extremely tight, observable relationship between LSAT/GPA and chance of acceptance and where there has been lots of insider reporting testifying to the importance of test scores and grades.

Edited by AfricanusCrowther

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On 11/7/2019 at 9:36 AM, telkanuru said:

Eeeh, those grades and GRE would be a pretty immediate desk reject at most places. Grades are one of those things that don't matter except if you don't have them.

Yes, this is correct. To be really honest, I didn't look at the grades. Just wanted to stress the importance of actually having a project (and leading with your project rather than a list of stats). It's not enough to say you focus on x region in y time period. 

Edited by OHSP

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From my experience, it is helpful to be in touch with professors during the application process so that they can be aware (hopefully) of your research potential and actually look at your application.  If they give a damn and don't get your application, they will find out where your application went (immediate desk reject before distributing to the faculty?). Yes, I got a lot of rejections with a 3.1 undergrad GPA and meh MA GPA and low GRE score (I had language issues) and it took several cycles with different groupings of schools.  Ultimately, it's a matter of faculty being persuaded by your commitment to producing good research and a promising dissertation, who's currently sitting on the graduate admissions committee, who else is applying in your field, and, well, the size of your field.

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