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Questions about...expectations?

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Quick question for everyone...not quite sure how to title it or word it but here goes.

To set the stage: I applied for and was accepted to an MA program in communication studies. It is a well-known, very well-respected school that also has a PhD program. I was offered full funding + stipend (TA).

I researched their faculty and found I had very similar research interests to what one of the professors had been working on. I emailed him and he sent me a paper to read, which I did...outside of that brief email exchange we did not establish any sort of rapport.

I constantly read on here about people hinging their entire application on one particular "POI" or basing their entire decision around a professor...I suppose I'm a little worried. I'm going to the "recruitment party" (their words) and am not even sure he/she will be there. It seems that the prevailing view on here is a student is accepted/funded primarily to work with a specific professor to do specific research...but I'm not getting that impression from my own experience thus far. I would love to work with this professor, but I'm very flexible on that and have several, rather than just one specific, research interest/subfield. I am not sure if I will be continuing on to PhD or getting a relevant job after I earn the MA.

<< confused! Anyone had this or a similar experience? I want to be prepared for the recruitment weekend and be on the same page as the graduate coordinator, who has been my only point of contact throughout my admissions process.


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Hmmmm. I consider an MA to be a time where you explore the field and decide what your more narrow trajectory will be later (if you go on to a phd). Many of the people applying to PhDs that are focused on a particular faculty member probably already have master's degrees under their belts (I assume) and really have their research foci nailed down.

Then again, it also depends on the model of the program. Many programs operate with the apprenticeship model you described--where students align themselves with a particular faculty member. But there are also programs that prefer students to work with many faculty members (and the more you line up with, the stronger your application).

Congrats on the acceptance! It sounds like a sweet deal!!

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I agree with the post above... I think PhD programs tend to be more narrow in both the research focus, as well as the professor(s) individuals work with. During an MA, you are really just learning the process of research, as well as having your first teaching experiences. PhD programs are a whole 'nother ballgame! You're MA should be about learning as many theories as possible, and learning your true passions. When/if you enroll in a PhD program, they'll want you to be focused on a theory/project/area, as well as have a mentor in mind.

The biggest advice I have for an MA student: get a thesis topic early, and get it rolling! Make yourself available for conference opportunities, as well as working with profs on research. I didn't do a thesis in my MA (supposed to be a terminal degree, then I got laid off), and am now kicking myself in the a$$ for not doing it.

Enjoy school!

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I'm entering MA with thoughts towards a PhD as well....my thoughts right now are to narrow my interests in my MA and if I end up at a school with a PhD program it can be a natural transition or I have the option to look elsewhere for further education. Going for an MA take classes from as many profs as you can and work with as many as you can to geat a real grasp for the types of research and intersts you want to persue.

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