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Hello. I am one of the admits for UVA's MA program, but as most of you know, it's unfunded. I am very tempted to take it as I think it will lead me to better PhD programs and, thus, to better jobs in the future. Is this accurate thinking? I do have some funded offers, but they are at schools that are much lower ranked. Especially if any of you are current UVA students, or even just know of some current UVA students, do you think I would be better off in the long run to accept this offer? And if you do have some inside knowledge, does anyone know what sorts of PhD programs UVA graduates gain admittance? Thanks.

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On 3/23/2011 at 3:44 PM, Brontelover said:

Hello. I am one of the admits for UVA's MA program, but as most of you know, it's unfunded. I am very tempted to take it as I think it will lead me to better PhD programs and, thus, to better jobs in the future. Is this accurate thinking? I do have some funded offers, but they are at schools that are much lower ranked. Especially if any of you are current UVA students, or even just know of some current UVA students, do you think I would be better off in the long run to accept this offer? And if you do have some inside knowledge, does anyone know what sorts of PhD programs UVA graduates gain admittance? Thanks.

I am a current UVa MA. My class of MA students has done exceedingly well getting into PhD programs this year, having been accepted to Cornell, Columbia, UT--Austin, UNC--Chapel Hill, Indiana, Rutgers, Wisconsin--Madison, Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan, CUNY, Vanderbilt, and WashU (to name just programs usually considered to be in the top 30 or so). Many of these institutions have accepted, or at least waitlisted, multiple people in my class this round.

Yes, we paid for our MAs. I know there's been a lot of hostility about that on this board. I'd do it again, though. Not paying meant I had four semesters to work closely with unparalleled faculty without the distractions of teaching. All I can say is DO NOT come here for an MA if you ultimately want a PhD from UVa. It will not happen, and it's heartbreaking to leave.

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I think that the above advice is good, however I think if you have funded offers you should choose them over the unfunded one. In this economy and market, there's no reason to turn down money to get an English MA. The work you do is the most important. I do not deny the above advice about having more time, getting access to great faculty, etc. But I guess it depends on how "lowly ranked" your other schools are. If they are anywhere in the top 75, I think they are fine. Unless you have stellar credit, no debt, and tons of money, take the funded offer. While being free from teaching might be a bonus to some, teaching experience is invaluable to me. I haven't taught before and I need to see if it's something I can do, something I will love or hate, etc. Maybe you are in a different situation, but the teaching experience is part of what I want out of an MA. If you decide to not go on to the phd after, and want to teach at community college or high school, that teaching experience is going to get you that, not an MA with no teaching.

So yeah, it depends on what you want out of it, your financial situation, and your personality. In MY case, I would take the funded offer.

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I am also looking for advice on UVa's MA program. I am trying to decide between UVa and the MA program at Georgetown. I got a full scholarship plus a TA position with a stipend at Georgetown, and UVa is, obviously, unfunded. However, I am fortunate in that my parents will pay for UVa if I decide to go there, so I will not have any debt either way. Does anyone have any advice or insight on this?

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I have a lot to say about this just having visited the English department at U of Virginia last week.

 

My options/offers are:

1) Virginia MA (obviously, unfunded)

2) Brown MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching, good scholarship money)

3) U of Chicago MAPH (no funding)

I did apply to PhD's this time around and have received positive feedback on my application from two top ten doctoral programs and one in the top 20, all of which were considering me. Nevertheless, in the end, no goat. Originally, my plan was to go to either an English PhD or a MAT (alternative plan). I did not really know about PhD referrals.cI have begun to lean against Brown, the Teaching program, and toward Virginia or Chicago. My goal is, without a doubt, to do whatever it takes to get into a top PhD and soon. I plan to apply again in Fall 2012. Considering this goal, it appears that Virginia and Chicago may help me more. Two Directors of Admissions, at both Virginia and CUNY, agree with that.

 

My experience at Virginia:

1) It was important to me to learn if the PhD and MA students were well-integrated. I hate the idea of being considered "second-rate" and have enough pride to strongly believe I do not deserve that label. If I am going to pay all this money for an MA, it is imperative, I believe, that I get respect from the institution in which I enroll. I sat in the Graduate Student Lounge for a while this Wednesday. Every student (out of about fifteen in there) was extremely nice, and both the PhD and MA students in there said that in all their time there they had not experienced a separation between MA and PhD students. A couple PhDs told me that, in fact, they are always sad when MAs leave Virginia, because some of their best friends oftentimes end up being MA students (since there are more of them). The Director said that they try to make sure there is only "one universe" (not two, one for the MA and one for the PhD). I believe that to be true.

2) The campus and Charlottesville are beautiful.

3) I like the department. Too many reasons to explain here.

4) PhD placement rates in the last two years there have been excellent. This year, the placement director (for both MAs and PhDs) told me that all eight MAs who applied to PhDs this year got into at least two top funded PhD programs, one student even got into eight-ten.

 

 

I started to exchange e-mails yesterday with a current PhD student at Virginia who did the MAPH program at Chicago. Much of what he said about MAPH is something I have heard before but wished were just rumor. Many seem to benefit placement-wise and intellectually from MAPH, and in some ways, the Humanities aspect of it and the philosophical nature of Chicago's English department attracts me, not to mention their recruitment tactics have been very convincing in some regards. What continues to frighten me about the program, however, is that there is a very negative attitude towards it on the part of some members of the university outside of it, and that negative attitude is similar in kind. Most complaints from admitted students concern (1) no funding for most people and (2) the negative attitude toward MAPH students within the university at large. The later criticism is so commonly repeated in my experience that I wonder if it is wise to continue considering this as I am.

 

Why am I still considering Chicago then?

1) I may actually like the more philosophical nature of the English department (but not entirely sure).

2) Chicago is a larger city, and part of me likes to be lost in a sea of anonymity.

3) As the person I corresponded with pointed out, Chicago is more diverse in a variety of ways.

4) The program claims to help with placement (but when I recently asked the Director about placement rates, she said that it is pretty impossible to keep track of that but that many students report success in placement after the program).

 

Anyway, I am still in need of further advice and just wanted to provide others the information I have.

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I am also looking for advice on UVa's MA program. I am trying to decide between UVa and the MA program at Georgetown. I got a full scholarship plus a TA position with a stipend at Georgetown, and UVa is, obviously, unfunded. However, I am fortunate in that my parents will pay for UVa if I decide to go there, so I will not have any debt either way. Does anyone have any advice or insight on this?

Take the Georgetown offer, tell your parents you went to Virginia and buy a car with the proceeds? :)

Just IMHO, the difference between Georgetown and UVA isn't THAT big that it's worth costing your parents thousands of dollars. I'd e-mail the two schools and ask for their records of PhD placement over the last three years. That should give you a better picture of your choice.

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Cicada,

I don't not really have much experience with either program (besides being accepted to MAPH as well), but my gut instinct is that UVA is probably the better choice. I think the program at UVA is probably much smaller, and thus would allow more access to faculty. I have heard from one or two former MAPH students who said that they felt like they had to fight to get attention from faculty. This issue becomes important when it comes time to get LORs.

While Chicago's English program is obviously a TOP program, I think UVA's MA would probably have a higher ranking than UChicago's MAPH, if such a ranking of MA programs existed (maybe it does). It is just my impression that UVA would likely lead to a more successful placement in a PhD program than Chicago.

Again, I don't have any real experience with either program, this is all just my impressions. Hope it helps!

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I feel bad saying this because I do know people who have gone through the Chicago MAPH and had great experiences. But, the faculty that I've encountered at my current program and others whom I've spoken to (not to mention my undergraduate advisors, who strongly discouraged me from applying when I brought it up as a potential MA app option) don't have great things to say about it and generally don't seem to respect it as a program very much. Even if a reputation is unfair, perception can mean a lot, and if adcoms perceive your MA program as sort of a consolation prize/cash cow that has lower admissions standards and accepts too many people just to get their money (which is how I've heard the MAPH described by faculty), that's not insignificant. Please note that I don't know enough about the MAPH personally to gauge if this is an accurate characterization or totally unfair--it certainly might be the latter--but it's how an awful lot of faculty from several programs have described it to me, and they're the ones deciding on PhD applications.

That said, I've met several students who have done the MA at UVA and have gone onto be really, really successful in PhD applications. I've heard little about this program specifically from faculty--frankly, it doesn't come up often in idle conversation, as the MAPH sometimes does--but at least I've never heard anything negative.

Re: Chicago vs. Charlottesville. By all accounts the MAPH is SO rigorous that you may not have much time to enjoy Chicago's great cultural and urban offerings anyway. And while you may be less "anonymous" in the large town/small city of Charlottesville, at Chicago you'd be in Hyde Park, which is not the greatest area, and you may not have much time to get out and about elsewhere.

By the way, sorry for the brand new profile. I was an active member of GradCafe under a different name but have recently switched usernames due to privacy issues.

Edited by Phil Sparrow
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Thank you both so much for the advice and information. I keep hearing about these specific problems with MAPH. UVA's program does appear to be successful in placing students in top-ranked PhD's now, and it also appears that there has been increasingly more support for MA students there in the last two years. Everyone I met there was very kind, and I liked the fact that the MA's and PhD's seemed well-integrated.

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Hey Cicada,

I did my MA at UC. That said, if I were you, I'd probably take UVa's offer. I had a great experience at UC. All of my LOR writers were from there. Every campus visit includes me chatting with my POI's who wax on and on about those writers. I worked my ass off and have had my MA thesis accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. I was given some scholarship monies at UC. I also didn't feel like a second-class citizen and was integrated well with the Ph.D. students, BUT that's largely because I'm pretty assertive and more than capable of holding my own in a verbal argument. I went to subfield workshops that usually only the faculty and Ph.D. students attended. I was prepared, spoke up, and made friends. The MA cohort is HUGE. You'll get lost in the shuffle if you're not very active. You're too busy to see much of the city. In three quarters, you take 9 classes (though one of those is for your thesis). As for placement, I've been decently successful. One of my cohort was very successful (he is at Cornell but was also accepted at Brown). Another friend is at UTA. Another is at NYU law and was accepted to Columbia law as well. That said, there are also LOTS of people who weren't as assertive and I know felt treated unequally and were dissatisfied. It seems the odds are better for you at a smaller program. Best of luck!

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Adding to my previous post, DGS at Brown recommended Virginia and said, basically, that it would put me in a good position to get into a top PhD. He commented on the strength of the program itself and the strength of the English department as a whole. That makes three DGS's from top-rated PhD's on the side of Virginia.

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Thank you, Lyonessrampant. It occurs to me that we've been floating around on the same GradCafe pages during this application season. Congratulations on your acceptances and waitlist at UT Austin! I actually go to UT Austin now, for my undergrad. If you've never been to Austin, you will not regret being here. In the past, I've passed up undergrad offers from Oxford, Amherst, and Vassar to stay here. But it is time to fly the coop.

Like you, I am a more than assertive person and also can hold my own in a verbal argument. But in addition to being assertive, I am aggressive and proud. Those latter character traits make me wonder if my year in MAPH would have any peace. I'd likely switch into my hyper-competitive mode.

Hey Cicada,

I did my MA at UC. That said, if I were you, I'd probably take UVa's offer. I had a great experience at UC. All of my LOR writers were from there. Every campus visit includes me chatting with my POI's who wax on and on about those writers. I worked my ass off and have had my MA thesis accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. I was given some scholarship monies at UC. I also didn't feel like a second-class citizen and was integrated well with the Ph.D. students, BUT that's largely because I'm pretty assertive and more than capable of holding my own in a verbal argument. I went to subfield workshops that usually only the faculty and Ph.D. students attended. I was prepared, spoke up, and made friends. The MA cohort is HUGE. You'll get lost in the shuffle if you're not very active. You're too busy to see much of the city. In three quarters, you take 9 classes (though one of those is for your thesis). As for placement, I've been decently successful. One of my cohort was very successful (he is at Cornell but was also accepted at Brown). Another friend is at UTA. Another is at NYU law and was accepted to Columbia law as well. That said, there are also LOTS of people who weren't as assertive and I know felt treated unequally and were dissatisfied. It seems the odds are better for you at a smaller program. Best of luck!

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The weather is not that bad, I promise. Just leave the state in August, and you'll be fine. I have never met anyone in my life that did not love this city (I've lived here my whole life). I think it really might be impossible.

quote name='lyonessrampant' timestamp='1301364958' post='233723']

Sounds like UVa may be a good place then. Best of luck to you! I'm interested in UTA, but I'm a cold weather girl. . .not sure how that whole Austin heat thing would treat me ;)

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