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Help a Brit out


jtaylorhfc
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Hi all,

I've been a lurker on this forum for some time and it's provided me with a lot of help/advice in the completion of applications to schools in the States. However, I remain a somewhat ignorant Brit when it comes to a. my chances of getting in b. my chances of getting funding and c. when I'm likely to hear back with any news.

I've applied to the following schools: Princeton, Columbia, U Penn, Georgetown & WashU - for their History PhD programmes. To date I've studied for a Masters in History of International Relations at the London School of Economics (awarded a Distinction) and have some reasonable work experience in the Houses of Parliament (although I'm not sure how relevant this will be, I've been told to put it down). My GRE results weren't great, V 600ish, Q 650ish, 5.5 in the written section - however I'd never taken any test like this, will this be considered? I also speak German to a reasonable level and can work with foreign primary sources, again I'm not sure exactly how relevant this is but it can't hurt right? Finally I was in quite a bit of contact with professors from said institutions before I applied and they seemed generally interested in my work to date and my proposals for further study, also I've got some pretty good (I think) references from LSE.

In the UK I've applied (and been accepted) to UCL but I have an American girl friend whose visa expires at the end of the month and a keen interest in modern US history so it seems to make sense to try my hand in the States.

I'd greatly appreciate any input/advice on the application process and my chances.

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It's always tricky to attempt to pin down anyone's chances in their applications to grad school - a lot of it seems to come down to less tangible factors like the quality of your writing sample, how well you would fit with the faculty in the different programs, and luck.

That said, the fact that you've done well in your previous program of study and that you've heard generally positive things from the professors you want to work with is a good sign. Your language experience will definitely be an advantage, and even if your work experience isn't directly related to your program, it might make you stand out a bit more, which can't hurt. I also wouldn't be overly concerned about your GREs. Most programs don't put a huge amount of weight on them, and you did well enough where you aren't going to be raising any red flags with your scores.

I hope that this was helpful, and best of luck!

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I could be wrong, but I think your chances of getting funding as a Brit at any of those schools are the same as if you were a US citizen. They are all rich private schools who will likely only hierarchize funding based on perceived merit (if at all). I think international students have more difficulty acquiring funding at public schools.

I can't speak to your chances beyond "You have a chance!" Those are all very competitive programs, but you do have a chance. Your verbal score is slightly low (according this forum, anyway), but I don't think it's that important, especially because you are international and your professors of interest know to look for your application. All the other credentials you listed should help you.

You are likely to hear back positive news in February or early March, and to hear bad news after mid-March, though you could always hear bad news early and good news later! That's just the trend. I would guess the programs you listed will either be calling or emailing accepted students (maybe emailing you since you're overseas); a mailed letter will usually be a waitlist or rejection.

Best of luck.

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international students do NOT have a more difficult time securing funding from public school departments, with the notable exception of many UC schools, because they have no money. at any other institution, international students are funded as frequently as US citizens. and american schools, more often than not, fund all of their graduate students (places like wisconsin, columbia, and UCLA are the exception). it's not similar to the british system, where many students pay out of pocket. it's rare (though not impossible) to receive an offer to a PhD program without funding (more frequent for MA admissions).

the german fluency will definitely work in your favour. i doubt they will take into consideration the fact that this is the first time you've taken a GRE-like standardized test, but they also don't take the GREs very seriously anyway. they're usually used to compare applicants across disciplines for university-wide awards, so that's where the score may hurt you, not in admissions.

i'm curious as to whether you plan on studying US history or british history. what period? what types of questions do you hope to answer? i mean, you don't need to list all of that here, but if it was explicit in your statement of purpose, then you should be in decent shape.

also, MA programs in the UK are often read as the equivalent of BAs in the US. while you may get accepted to PhD programs, you may be expected to do the coursework for the MA in your program as well.

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international students do NOT have a more difficult time securing funding from public school departments, with the notable exception of many UC schools, because they have no money. at any other institution,

LOL, well it makes sense I would think that, then, since I live in California. All we hear is how broken this state is, and how there is money for nothing and no one.

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yep. the UC system is broke. when i was applying to schools, it was 2008, just before the economy went in the shitter. even then, UCLA told me that they weren't going to fund any international students in the history department for year 1, but that i could "probably" get funding for years 2-5. once it was time to submit the application, after the economy blew up, UCLA actually stated on their application website that they couldn't offer funding to international students at all. i ultimately decided not to apply because there was no way i was going to pay for part of my degree, let alone all of it.

i applied to many other public schools and none of them denied funding based on international status. they did offer far fewer spots than usual because of the financial meltdown, but who got what wasn't based on national/international status.

poor UC... i would've loved to apply to a few california schools. oh well.

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yep. the UC system is broke. when i was applying to schools, it was 2008, just before the economy went in the shitter. even then, UCLA told me that they weren't going to fund any international students in the history department for year 1, but that i could "probably" get funding for years 2-5. once it was time to submit the application, after the economy blew up, UCLA actually stated on their application website that they couldn't offer funding to international students at all. i ultimately decided not to apply because there was no way i was going to pay for part of my degree, let alone all of it.

i applied to many other public schools and none of them denied funding based on international status. they did offer far fewer spots than usual because of the financial meltdown, but who got what wasn't based on national/international status.

poor UC... i would've loved to apply to a few california schools. oh well.

This is part of why I am not applying to UCLA, even though Stephen Aron would be the ideal professor for me to work with.

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I am also from Britain, also looking into History Ph.D.s.

If you check the Results page, then in 2009, there seem to have been at least two International students who were accepted to UCLA with funding.

So, yeah, chances for internationals to get funding there are reduced but not nil. At least this is what I keep telling myself.rolleyes.gif

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Thanks a lot for the feedback, I understand giving any difinitive answers is extremely difficult but it's been refreshing to receive such constructive feedback...fingers crossed it all goes to plan!

i'm curious as to whether you plan on studying US history or british history. what period? what types of questions do you hope to answer? i mean, you don't need to list all of that here, but if it was explicit in your statement of purpose, then you should be in decent shape.

My main area of interest is (very broadly) twentieth century American foreign policy, but I've got a strong emphasis on American oil policy and it's influence on the 'special relationship' and the course of the cold war. To date I've mainly worked on Anglo-American relations (particularly in regards to European reconstruction and relations in East Asia) but I hope that I'll be able to focus more on American history specifically during my PhD.

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If you check the Results page, then in 2009, there seem to have been at least two International students who were accepted to UCLA with funding.

yeah, a friend of mine from grade school was accepted to UCLA with full funding in 2009 (but for pure math). i know another kid who got in for economics with a good deal of funding, also an international student.

my sense is that, ultimately, UCLA will fund anyone if they really, really want 'em, but at the time, my potential advisor AND their website said funding wasn't gonna happen at least for year 1 (and later, for years 2-5), so i never applied. i'm much, much happier with my present program, particularly after a conversation with a recent PhD from UCLA, but i would've liked to stay on the west coast... oh well.

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I have an international friend here who received some scholarship money, but she told me getting actual loans to cover additional costs (tuition, room, ect) was not possible. No idea how that actually works, just going off what she has told me.

good luck.

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I have an international friend here who received some scholarship money, but she told me getting actual loans to cover additional costs (tuition, room, ect) was not possible. No idea how that actually works, just going off what she has told me.

good luck.

That's the problem with UCLA, there's little in the way of affordable housing around Westwood.

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poor UC... i would've loved to apply to a few california schools. oh well.

I think many people thought the same thing. Who doesn't want to live in beautiful, sunny California where the temperatures are temperate year round and the horrible weather in San Francisco and LA only really show up when we're busy doing research work? :)

The fact I'm not applying to any CA schools, I believe, has greatly decreased phone calls from my grandmother in San Francisco to ask if I've applied to any and when the UC system went broke, she stopped asking at all.

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not to hijack the OP's thread, but weirdly enough, i actually really wanted to move FROM the west coast back to the northeast. i applied all over (midwest, south, southeast, northeast) based solely on the fit of the programs, but since leaving the west coast all i've thought about is when i can go back. :rolleyes:

i don't miss the 5 years of SAD i had when i lived in the northwest, but i really, really miss the mountains. a lot. and the ocean. oh well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

also, MA programs in the UK are often read as the equivalent of BAs in the US. while you may get accepted to PhD programs, you may be expected to do the coursework for the MA in your program as well.

Surely it is the opposite, considering the earlier focus on specialization at UK universities? I would venture to say that a UK "BA" involves work closer to the postgraduate level than does a US one. In any case, it is my understanding that US institutions will not require students with a UK Masters to earn another MA. Sorry if I misunderstood what you wrote.

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Surely it is the opposite, considering the earlier focus on specialization at UK universities? I would venture to say that a UK "BA" involves work closer to the postgraduate level than does a US one. In any case, it is my understanding that US institutions will not require students with a UK Masters to earn another MA. Sorry if I misunderstood what you wrote.

you did not misunderstand me. while the UK MA is undoubtedly more specialized than the final year of a US BA, there are many graduate programs and professional programs (law, medicine, journalism) that equate the UK MA with the US BA. the difference, i believe, stems more from whether the UK BA was a 3 or 4 year program than the quality of the UK MA itself.

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