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aam9

Could I be accepted for PhD with just my BA?

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Hi just wondering if anyone wants to give a generalized honest opinion, am I wasting my money applying to PhD programs in Media Studies when I only have my BA? I know you need to know a lot more about me and to read my writing to actually answer that with full confidence but I'm wondering if there is sort of a general rule that almost all PhD admits already have their Masters or have spent significant time working in the field. I'm sure a masters helps one's chances but is someone getting into media studies (rtf/cultural studies type) PhD programs without it an exception or just a slight minority? 

My professors have made it clear that it would be better were I accepted into PhD programs for money reasons, but even the ones who most intimately know my work haven't given a clear indication of if that's possible. Reading the websites of programs I'm interested many current students seem to have acquired their Masters from other schools or in other disciplines so I feel my chances dwindling. I have good numbers and some good writing but I've never published or officially presented. 

Edited by aam9
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Of course! I was accepted straight out of undergrad to multiple programs and at every visit I went to there were others invited who also were either straight out of undergrad, or only had a bachelor's. I am social science focused, but another in my cohort has only a BA and is more humanities focused. I think the most important factor on top of grades and gre is your research experience and your research interest fit. Choose carefully. Good luck!

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Psychology is a bit different. I know many psychology students who have gone straight into a PhD program from undergrad. This is very much not typical in communication departments. I don't know a single person who has done so. I would recommend applying for combined MA/PhD programs if you have research experience in you undergrad (i.e. were an RA actively involved in publishing and/or conducted an undergraduate thesis). If you do not have research experience, this will be really tough. In Comm, you would be doing yourself a disservice to apply exclusively to PhD programs that do not have an MA/PhD combination track.

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On 11/20/2019 at 1:12 PM, gradswag said:

Psychology is a bit different. I know many psychology students who have gone straight into a PhD program from undergrad. This is very much not typical in communication departments. I don't know a single person who has done so. I would recommend applying for combined MA/PhD programs if you have research experience in you undergrad (i.e. were an RA actively involved in publishing and/or conducted an undergraduate thesis). If you do not have research experience, this will be really tough. In Comm, you would be doing yourself a disservice to apply exclusively to PhD programs that do not have an MA/PhD combination track.

Not sure if you're referring to me, but almost all of the programs I was accepted to were communication programs. I was accepted at  comm programs at UCSB, Michigan State, University of Michigan, although I applied to psychology programs as well. I was also accepeted into a psych phd program and two master's programs, one straight master's and one offer of a master's rather than the phd. I am not the only one in my cohort accepted straight out of undergrad, nor was I at UCSB or Michigan State.

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On 11/22/2019 at 10:44 AM, Psyhopeful said:

Not sure if you're referring to me, but almost all of the programs I was accepted to were communication programs. I was accepted at  comm programs at UCSB, Michigan State, University of Michigan, although I applied to psychology programs as well. I was also accepeted into a psych phd program and two master's programs, one straight master's and one offer of a master's rather than the phd. I am not the only one in my cohort accepted straight out of undergrad, nor was I at UCSB or Michigan State.

UCSB offers a MA/PhD hybrid that is 5 years long, and their website specifically states they do not admit undergraduate students directly into the PhD. MSU *may* accept a PhD out of undergrad, I'm not as familiar with their program. Again, it is REALLY uncommon in communication to be accepted at the PhD level directly out of undergrad. It isn't unheard of, just incredibly uncommon. I'm impressed that you did get admitted that way, but it definitely isn't the norm.

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On 11/30/2019 at 9:13 AM, gradswag said:

UCSB offers a MA/PhD hybrid that is 5 years long, and their website specifically states they do not admit undergraduate students directly into the PhD. MSU *may* accept a PhD out of undergrad, I'm not as familiar with their program. Again, it is REALLY uncommon in communication to be accepted at the PhD level directly out of undergrad. It isn't unheard of, just incredibly uncommon. I'm impressed that you did get admitted that way, but it definitely isn't the norm.

Yes, all of the programs I was admitted to were for the MA/PhD. It is a continuous program, when you enter, the correct phrasing is that you are in the PhD program. Because... you are. MSU has a standard 3-4 year program for students entering with a master’s but also admits those without a master’s and they then do an MA/PhD. There are many MA/PhD programs, and those programs accept people with only an undergraduate degree. I was one of two admitted (of 8 or 9 total) to UCSB who was coming from undergrad last year. Research experience and interest fit matter a lot. There are definitely programs that only accept people with a master’s but there are many other respected programs that accept undergrads. I am proof of this, as is my cohort mate, and several of the accepted people I met on my recruitment weekends. At my present school, I was one of three accepted coming straight from undergrad plus there was another that was a few years out but didn’t have a master’s. All four of us got multiple offers including another to MSU, one went to Stanford, another to Ohio State, and at a different recruitment weekend, I believe the other undergrad went to Mizzou. I don’t know what else to tell you. It is not at all impossible. Maybe we’re just arguing semantics?

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We definitely are just arguing semantics! In certain fields, you can be admitted to a PhD program without an MA and not have to earn an MA (unless you leave your PhD early, and it is awarded to reflect that you have completed graduate work). In comm, as you said, you can be admitted to a PhD program but you earn the MA intentionally along the way. It is more difficult to be admitted to these programs, and they tend to favor people with statistics/research experience in undergrad. I did not have that going into my MA application cycle, so I would not have been competitive for those programs. Penn State (where I am) also accepts people into an MA/PhD program, and it is clear that those entering with a BA/BS only have a much better grasp on research methods and academic writing than I did at that point in my academic career. 

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