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Hi!

I was wondering if it's better to attend a lower-ranked phd program (in the 40s) or an MA program in the hopes that in 2 years I could apply to some higher ranked programs. I haven't heard back from all programs, but I've been accepted to some state schools with funding and stipends that are actually higher than the phd program. Some of the MA programs that I'm waiting to hear from are ranked in the top 20s or so.

Advice? The phd program is a great fit, but I"m worried about job prospects afterwards.

Thanks!

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Well, for what it is worth, I have done a little bit of research on this topic, and I think it depends on what you would like to do afterwards. If you want to teach at a small liberal arts college (like I do), then I think you would be fine to accept the PhD program at the lesser ranked school. I've looked into many of the schools in my geographic region (the upper Midwest), and most of the smaller colleges have professors that have degrees from places that aren't as prestigious. However, if you would like to teach at a bigger university, I think getting a degree from a more well-known school will certainly be an asset.

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Interesting, I was almost certain UC Riverside was a top phd program? Are you talking about sub-fields? Knowing how competitive graduate admissions is (and it probably will continue to be so for quite some time) I would do the PhD program. Would you be fully funded?

Hi!

I was wondering if it's better to attend a lower-ranked phd program (in the 40s) or an MA program in the hopes that in 2 years I could apply to some higher ranked programs. I haven't heard back from all programs, but I've been accepted to some state schools with funding and stipends that are actually higher than the phd program. Some of the MA programs that I'm waiting to hear from are ranked in the top 20s or so.

Advice? The phd program is a great fit, but I"m worried about job prospects afterwards.

Thanks!

Edited by ZeeMore21
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As others have said, it depends on what your goals are after graduating from your program.

First of all, I don't think that any program in the 40s should be considered "lower ranked." SUNY-Buffalo and UC-Santa Cruz are still very respectable programs, and a lot of people work very hard to get into them. So you shouldn't cross any of them off your list because they're lower ranked. If you were debating whether or not to go to program #90 vs. an MA program, then my advice might be different. I don't think that going to any top-50 program qualifies as a KOD career-wise.

Second of all, the answer to your question depends on how much time you want to take getting a PhD. Getting an MA might not put you any farther ahead, coursework wise. Many top-ranked PhD don't transfer any or all of the credits you did elsewhere. So you might sink two years into a master's degree and then find yourself having to do an additional five or six years of PhD work.

Third, having an MA might not open doors for you at the nation's top programs. You might encounter adcom members who have an old-school bias against accepting people with MAs into their program; at best, you'll be held to a higher standard during admissions season.

Fourth, I wasn't aware that any programs in the top 20 had terminal, funded MA programs? As far as I know, OSU was the highest ranked program to offer a funded, terminal MA, and they just got rid of it.

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I agree with the others: you shouldn't doubt the integrity of a top 50 program. With sound research in a field that coincides with traditional course offerings, you will find a teaching position. The only reason to delay your entry into a PhD program is if you have reason to believe you will get into a significantly better school in two years (for example, by making the leap from a #90 school to a top 30).

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