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MA/PhD decisions


cquin

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So I'm on rejection number 4 out of 8, and I have very little hope for the remaining schools. Though UMass rejected me from their English PhD program, they did offer me admission into their terminal MA program. My question is this: since my ultimate goal is obtaining my PhD, do you think it's worth it to pay out of the pocket the $20,000 a year (roughly) for my MA? Will it ultimately make me a more competitive applicant for my PhD? Or should I hold off, bust my ass revising my SOP and writing sample, and apply again for doctoral programs for fall 2012?

Of course, I suppose there is still a very faint possibility that I'll receive good news from one of my remaining schools, but I'm working under the assumption that I'll be rejected across the board (ugh...even typing that out was rough. This process has done a number on my self esteem).

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So I'm on rejection number 4 out of 8, and I have very little hope for the remaining schools. Though UMass rejected me from their English PhD program, they did offer me admission into their terminal MA program. My question is this: since my ultimate goal is obtaining my PhD, do you think it's worth it to pay out of the pocket the $20,000 a year (roughly) for my MA? Will it ultimately make me a more competitive applicant for my PhD? Or should I hold off, bust my ass revising my SOP and writing sample, and apply again for doctoral programs for fall 2012?

Of course, I suppose there is still a very faint possibility that I'll receive good news from one of my remaining schools, but I'm working under the assumption that I'll be rejected across the board (ugh...even typing that out was rough. This process has done a number on my self esteem).

Hey cquin, sorry you feel discouraged. About the terminal MA program, I would get feedback from several different trusted others in your field - and then weigh it all out and see what feels right to you. That's what I did when I was trying to decide whether to apply to Masters programs in addition to PhDs.

My field is psych, not English, but FWIW I'll share the feedback I got. Basically, several graduate students recommended it because they felt it game them a better sense of what they wanted to do - made them more prepared for their PhD programs and also felt it made them more competitive applicants. When I talked to one of my faculty mentors about it, she felt that since I ultimately want a PhD, applying to Masters was a waste. She said she felt that having a Masters did not significantly increase one's competitiveness, based on her experience on graduate admissions boards. Also, I learned that (at least for the programs I'm interested in) most units would not cross over...I wouldn't get to start part way through because I had a Masters. I wasn't previously aware of that.

In the end, I decided I didn't want to do a Masters program because I felt it wasn't the best fit for me. I don't want to dissuade you from the offer; just sharing my experience. I know some people who had excellent experiences in Masters programs and are very happy they earned a Masters prior to starting their PhDs. That's what it comes down to - doing what you really want. Maybe after you talk to some mentors in your field you can get a better sense of things. I've also found that making a cost/benefit analysis can be very helpful - basically just listing all the pros and cons to each option.

Waiting it out can definitely be its own downer. Even if you are not admitted this year, I hope your self-esteem and mood go back to feeling good soon. I think and HOPE that once the whole admissions process is over for everyone, our anxiety levels will go down and we can finally get some peace of mind. And of course, I hope that you are not rejected across the board.

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