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Advice for Intl Student (MA in EAS/EALC)


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Hi everyone, I'm reasonably new here so apologies in advance if I'm violating posting rules and please let me know if I am doing so!

Background:

  • International student
  • BA in History from top international institution (GPA 4.44/5, Major GPA 4.79/5) 
  • Currently finishing up my second BA from a Japanese university (under double degree)
  • Thesis in premodern Japanese history + history of science/medicine based on primary sources in Japanese, as well as secondary sources in Chinese
  • Language: Chinese - Native (Simplified), Fluent (Traditional); English - Native; Japanese - Elementary (N4, still taking classes)
  • No publications
  • Haven't taken GREs (will do by September)
  • Will receive funding for 1 year MA provided it's a reputable program; if I can't get into one then no Masters, straight to work (government sector)

Goal:

  • Reputable 1 year East Asian Studies MA in the US
  • Prospective Fields/Research Interests: Premodern/modern Japanese history (late Tokugawa-early Meiji) + cultural flows with China around that time period (I guess that qualifies as intellectual and cultural history)

Question:

I have identified a few programs that I'm interested in but given my lack of RA/publication experience, Harvard/Stanford would probably be quite a reach. Additionally, I am unlikely to move into academia properly after my MA as I need to work off my scholarship commitments for at least 4 years, and I am concerned that would further weaken my application prospects. As such, I'm crowdsourcing suggestions for safety schools that I could apply to! Thus far my list of schools is as follows: 

- Harvard RSEA (current top choice due to access to Harvard History and Divinity School)
- Stanford EAS 
- UCLA EAS (not sure if I will qualify to finish in 1 year and academic advisor cannot confirm that third year proficiency = JLPT N2)
- Columbia EALAC (confirming if it is possible to finish in 1 year instead of 2)

I've been asked to consider Yale, JHU and Columbia MARSEA as well but based on what I've seen so far these programs are more contemporary-focused (again, please correct me if I'm wrong).

Thank you for reading this far and good luck for your own applications/grad school/work!

Edited by welcometouniqlo
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On 7/11/2022 at 3:45 AM, welcometouniqlo said:

Hi everyone, I'm reasonably new here so apologies in advance if I'm violating posting rules and please let me know if I am doing so!

Background:

  • International student
  • BA in History from top international institution (GPA 4.44/5, Major GPA 4.79/5) 
  • Currently finishing up my second BA from a Japanese university (under double degree)
  • Thesis in premodern Japanese history + history of science/medicine based on primary sources in Japanese, as well as secondary sources in Chinese
  • Language: Chinese - Native (Simplified), Fluent (Traditional); English - Native; Japanese - Elementary (N4, still taking classes)
  • No publications
  • Haven't taken GREs (will do by September)
  • Will receive funding for 1 year MA provided it's a reputable program; if I can't get into one then no Masters, straight to work (government sector)

Goal:

  • Reputable 1 year East Asian Studies MA in the US
  • Prospective Fields/Research Interests: Premodern/modern Japanese history (late Tokugawa-early Meiji) + cultural flows with China around that time period (I guess that qualifies as intellectual and cultural history)

Question:

I have identified a few programs that I'm interested in but given my lack of RA/publication experience, Harvard/Stanford would probably be quite a reach. Additionally, I am unlikely to move into academia properly after my MA as I need to work off my scholarship commitments for at least 4 years, and I am concerned that would further weaken my application prospects. As such, I'm crowdsourcing suggestions for safety schools that I could apply to! Thus far my list of schools is as follows: 

- Harvard RSEA (current top choice due to access to Harvard History and Divinity School)
- Stanford EAS 
- UCLA EAS (not sure if I will qualify to finish in 1 year and academic advisor cannot confirm that third year proficiency = JLPT N2)
- Columbia EALAC (confirming if it is possible to finish in 1 year instead of 2)

I've been asked to consider Yale, JHU and Columbia MARSEA as well but based on what I've seen so far these programs are more contemporary-focused (again, please correct me if I'm wrong).

Thank you for reading this far and good luck for your own applications/grad school/work!

If you are considering to complete a research-based master's degree, you should focus less on school-ranking and more on the alignment of your research interests with what is being done at each department. Admissions committees will make a decision based on the quality and relevance of your SOP, the quality of your letters of recommendation, and if your research interests aligns with what the program offers (curriculum, faculty research, etc.) Premodern/modern Japanese history is quite broad in terms of interests so it's hard to tell...

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Hi Dr-H, I get what you mean and I fully agree that I should be looking more at fit and supervision instead of school-ranking. I should have explained this better, but essentially my MA funding is contingent on the funding provider's evaluation of the school's general reputation. Thus, even if I might be interested in Ohio State University, it is highly unlikely that it will be approved by the providers and I wouldn't be allowed to apply in the first place. In that sense, the consideration of school-ranking is not necessarily a limitation I would like to have, but practically speaking it remains a consideration. 

I'm generally interested in social and cultural networks around that time period, but you're right that my interests are still quite broad and maybe even unfocused. Depending on which program I go to, I could potentially see myself doing modules on the literature and culture of Edo Japan (print and visual culture) or on the histories of clothing (material culture is fascinating as well) and even religion. In that manner, I would say I'm more interested in exploring urban-rural trade/cultural networks that may not be immediately obvious, but provide a new lens of looking at existing artefacts/sources, and I would be delighted to work with professors that are similarly interested in that approach.

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12 hours ago, welcometouniqlo said:

Hi Dr-H, I get what you mean and I fully agree that I should be looking more at fit and supervision instead of school-ranking. I should have explained this better, but essentially my MA funding is contingent on the funding provider's evaluation of the school's general reputation. Thus, even if I might be interested in Ohio State University, it is highly unlikely that it will be approved by the providers and I wouldn't be allowed to apply in the first place. In that sense, the consideration of school-ranking is not necessarily a limitation I would like to have, but practically speaking it remains a consideration. 

I'm generally interested in social and cultural networks around that time period, but you're right that my interests are still quite broad and maybe even unfocused. Depending on which program I go to, I could potentially see myself doing modules on the literature and culture of Edo Japan (print and visual culture) or on the histories of clothing (material culture is fascinating as well) and even religion. In that manner, I would say I'm more interested in exploring urban-rural trade/cultural networks that may not be immediately obvious, but provide a new lens of looking at existing artefacts/sources, and I would be delighted to work with professors that are similarly interested in that approach.

If that is the case, I highly suggest to make sure that your SOP will clearly align with the research that is conducted at each department. You should make sure that what you present the admissions committees aligns with the research of some of the professors (for example, it would be pointless to apply to work on the XVIIth century if there are no XVIIth century specialist in the program). Keep in mind that what you will be presenting as your research interests in your SOP is no way binding. You will have the opportunity to take another direction as you take courses, etc. Admissions committees are aware that your interests might change.

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