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MA X PhD Sociology


goldberg
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I recently applied for three sociology MAs in the US: BU, New School, NYU and one in the UK: Oxford.

I originally thought that MA would be significantly less competitive than PhD, am I right?

I have an ok curriculum:

TOEFL: 107

GRE: 450v 800q and 4.5 AW

BA: Non-Sociology (GPA is hard to translate, but my GPA was ranked 6th among the 2008 seniors.)

One published paper on a lousy journal

One year research scholarship from a governmental institution

Award for best monograph of 2008

Fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, German and Hebrew ( does it metter?)

I want to study race, racism and migration (perhaps forced migration)

Am I competitive for those MAs? My theory was that the really smart people would go straight for the PhD and that my application would be competitive at the MA level.

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FWIW, my understanding is that the most competitive schools don't even have a terminal master's program. So, perhaps the pool of applicants for terminal MA programs is much less competitive than for joint MA/PhD programs, rather than the programs themselves.

You should be fine - a lot of sociology programs LOVE polyglots! :)

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Tani,

even if you don't get into the American universities, because I never know how strongly they value GRE scores, your profile should be very appealing to Oxford. And they have a nice soc MSc (not famous as Cambridge's one, but a very good). I did a MSc in the UK (not in Oxford), but became very interested in many Oxford professors.

Tritone,

The fact that I can speak multiple languages hasn't been very useful so far... I thought it would be a plus, but so far, it seems it has been neglected.

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Tritone,

The fact that I can speak multiple languages hasn't been very useful so far... I thought it would be a plus, but so far, it seems it has been neglected.

Hmm, I guess it's just a few specific programs. One of my schools had a special fellowship for polyglots... I think it was Indiana, but I'm not sure.

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I don't really know... Many PhD applicants in the best universities already hold MAs (you can check this info by perusing students sections in departmental websites). I guess that if you go to Oxford, a good MA could easily get you to a PhD there. But I think things are different in the US... if you are admitted only to the MA, that doesn't mean you will be accepted to a PhD at the same university. I myself hold a MSc Soc from a top UK university and I'm not sure if it counts, because of the weird UK grade system... I've got a merit, but numerically, this means between 60 and 70. It's very difficult to get a 71 (distinction) and normally only one student or even none is awarded a distinction. But even with a distinction, let's say... 71, when you translate this to US GPA, it will be 2.84... I hope adcomms take this into account, but I'm not sure if they actually do it.

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I recently applied for three sociology MAs in the US: BU, New School, NYU and one in the UK: Oxford.

I originally thought that MA would be significantly less competitive than PhD, am I right?

I have an ok curriculum:

TOEFL: 107

GRE: 450v 800q and 4.5 AW

BA: Non-Sociology (GPA is hard to translate, but my GPA was ranked 6th among the 2008 seniors.)

One published paper on a lousy journal

One year research scholarship from a governmental institution

Award for best monograph of 2008

Fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, German and Hebrew ( does it metter?)

I want to study race, racism and migration (perhaps forced migration)

Am I competitive for those MAs? My theory was that the really smart people would go straight for the PhD and that my application would be competitive at the MA level.

I think the only one of those three that even has the possibility of funding you is BU. NYU doesn't have a terminal MA (they have a BA/MA: http://sociology.fas.nyu.edu/object/soc.ba.ma.program). And New School doesn't provide funding.

IMO you should have at least tried to apply to a couple PhD programs. You may have aimed too low.

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IMO you should have at least tried to apply to a couple PhD programs.

I agree with misterpat on this. I was confused when you asked if they would be a good "starting point" for a PhD... as I understand it, in sociology, if your end goal is a PhD, you're expected to apply for a PhD. Almost every school will give you a master's along the way - and if it's not your cup of tea, you can quit or transfer after the master's (they don't want you to, but this is what a lot of people do). Am I wrong?

Maybe I'm misinterpreting your intentions. What were your thoughts behind applying for an MA instead?

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when you translate this to US GPA, it will be 2.84

Are you sure you did that conversion right? How did you come up with that number? I had always thought anything with distinction (I assume we're talking first class or high second class honors) in the UK would be translated by most schools in the 3.5+ range, although I admit to not being an expert on the messy art of international grade conversions.

When I translated my ECTS study abroad grades (which I avoided whenever I could) I gave estimates based on what a similar class rank would equal in my university's hyper-inflated soc grad program (with the disclaimer that that's how I came up with the conversion)... perhaps that was going a little too far, but modesty isn't a virtue in grad school applications from what I can tell.

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If you arithmetically convert the values of one scale (1-100) into the other (0-4), you'll have this value. Arithmetically speaking, a 71 (and I'm not the lucky bastard who got a 71 in my degree!) equals 2.84. But, I guess you're right, this is a stupid form of converting and I would advise anyone, as you did, to simply avoid informing UK grades. Although, in the perfect world, in which academics are non culturally biased, reasonable, informed persons who make substantiated decisions, we could expect them to understand that anything considered, in British terms, a distinction or even a good merit makes someone a strong candidate.

I managed in some cases to avoid useless numerical comparisons by staying the title obtained (merit or distinction), but I don't think you can conceal anything from adcomms... they will have your transcripts right in front of them, which means that you can even say you had a 4, but they'll know that's not the true.

And I guess you're right... we're supposed to self-praise ourselves, especially in eulogical SOPs... what always bothers me (and I think I'm not the only one).

What I think it's curious about this is that in your twenties you're supposed to display a fantastic super-hero trajectory. It's all about a past. It doesn't seem to mind if you know what to do in your PhD and afterwards. And I must say I've found some PhD students absolutely lost about their lives.

Ok, I guess I'm becoming too melancholic about this...

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Sociologist said:
If you arithmetically convert the values of one scale (1-100) into the other (0-4), you'll have this value.

Never do this!!!!!!!

You are selling yourself way too short and yes you are vastly underestimating the intelligence of Americans. (Well, American academics at least...). You are most definitely not the first person to apply from a commonwealth country (unless we're talking about a Master's in Social Work at EWU or something like that, and even then...). Most places will either not bother trying to understand your grades and rely on LOR's and your GRE score, have an expert in their graduate school do the grade conversions for them, or at a minimum look up one of the websites that describe international conversions for a rough guide.

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And I should add that there are conversions within the US and between majors too - although adcoms rarely quantify these factors, makre no mistake that a BA with a 3.6 from Princeton with a double major in physics and literature and loads of heavy math courses will trump a 4.0 in physical education from Cal State Chico.

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