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Ranked Terminal Masters Programs


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Can we compile a list of ranked terminal masters programs?

I know that I have certainly had trouble finding information on this, and even the ASA guide to graduate departments has some incorrect information regarding program offerings of different departments.

Here is what I have so far:

University of Chicago (MAPPS)

Columbia

Boston College

Brandeis

The New School

Florida State

Fordham

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@xdarthveganx: BTW, I just looked at your signature, and you're aiming only at programs where it is usually very difficult to gain admission. The only one I know nothing about is the University of Victoria, but even British Columbia is very competitive. No matter how strong your application, you should apply to at least one which is not a Top 40 institution (in the case of US schools). Just a word of advice.

* Note: the New School may be outside the top 40, but it's hardly a safety school.

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@xdarthveganx: BTW, I just looked at your signature, and you're aiming only at programs where it is usually very difficult to gain admission. The only one I know nothing about is the University of Victoria, but even British Columbia is very competitive. No matter how strong your application, you should apply to at least one which is not a Top 40 institution (in the case of US schools). Just a word of advice.

* Note: the New School may be outside the top 40, but it's hardly a safety school.

Given the abysmal state of the job market I have zero interest in getting a PhD from a school outside the top 30, and i've spent 2 years putting this list together. There aren't that many programs that offer MA's and the New School is the only one that fits enough of a niche to make it worth my while.

I feel very good about my chances at The New School and Victoria. I even feel pretty good (as much as one can about a 3-5% acceptance rate) about my chances at Madison given my advisers close personal relationship with a number of well known faculty in the department.

Edit: I apologize if I came off the wrong way. I just wanted to make the point that I am aware of the competitiveness of the process, but the schools I am applying to are very much intentional. I have considered applying to the MA at Boston College, but I don't think that is much of a safety either.

Edited by xdarthveganx
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Edit: I apologize if I came off the wrong way. I just wanted to make the point that I am aware of the competitiveness of the process, but the schools I am applying to are very much intentional. I have considered applying to the MA at Boston College, but I don't think that is much of a safety either.

I do not doubt the strength of your credentials and connections, but having been through the process and watching several others having gone through it as well, I can tell you it's very easy to underestimate the strengths of the people you'll be competing against, as well as the random variation of the process. Trust me: the importance of choosing a department with a good fit and being careful not to apply only to top programs cannot be overly stressed. If Victoria is your safety option then you may be adopting a good strategy, as I said, I don't really know about it.

Another thing to keep in mind is that sociology programs are currently taking in fewer applicants than they did in previous years, so the success stories of past applicants are not necessarily going to come true in 2013. But I suppose I should take the hint about you not wanting advice from a stranger.

Edited by Ladril
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Hey DarthVegan, I think you got some pretty good advice here. Unless you have a strong backup plan in case grad school does not work, I also suggest you widen up your net a little bit. As for feeling good because of personal relationships, you are right it is an asset. This being said, many, many people will have mentors personally knowing faculty members at Madison and other places. My main LOR, who is well known in my field, was a personal friend to my main POI and a close, close friend to another POI at one of my top choices (a top 10). I had good credentials, etc, and still did not get off the waitlist in the end (it was a public school so the fact that I was international did not help). Don't overestimate the role of connections, even close ones!

Good luck!

Edited by Karlito
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Ok, I would love this thread to stay on topic as I am sure this is much needed information for a lot people.

I am grateful for the advice, but I think you all are taking my response the wrong way. I am well aware of the risks, I am very aware that there is a good possibility that I will get rejected from every single one of the schools that I am applying to. At the end of the day, I need to be happy with where I end up. I also don't think that applying to programs with poor job placement records is a very good idea. If my post came off in some way as over confident that simply isn't the case. I am not entirely confident about my chances, especially at 14 of the 16 schools on my list. I am ok with that. As far as a backup plan is concerned.. I don't need one other than finding a job. At the end of the day, without reliable job placement prospects, a PhD is simply not worth it.

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I totally agree with you, xdarthveganx. Obviously, advice on where you should or should not apply is not going to be very useful unless it's coming from someone who knows both you and the field pretty well, but in general I agree with that it only makes sense to apply to places you would actually attend if you got in. That was my mindset when I applied. Since I was more or less straight out of undergrad and relatively young, I only applied to seven schools that I knew I would actually attend if they were my only option. It ended up working out well for me, but even if it hadn't, I knew I was willing to apply again next year rather than risk hurting my future job prospects by going to a less prestigious program.

I'm always surprised when I read things on this forum along the lines of "I only got into my safety school-- should I go or wait another year and apply again?" If you aren't willing to attend a school, why would you invest the time and money to apply?

But back to the original topic of the conversation: I didn't look very far into terminal master's programs, but don't some of those programs let you apply for a PhD and then recommend you for the Master's program if you aren't accepted? I know a few people who were in that boat from Chicago and Columbia. Is there any reason why it would be more strategic to apply directly to the MA rather than applying for a PhD knowing that the MA is an automatica backup plan if that doesn't work out? Just curious.

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But back to the original topic of the conversation: I didn't look very far into terminal master's programs, but don't some of those programs let you apply for a PhD and then recommend you for the Master's program if you aren't accepted? I know a few people who were in that boat from Chicago and Columbia. Is there any reason why it would be more strategic to apply directly to the MA rather than applying for a PhD knowing that the MA is an automatica backup plan if that doesn't work out? Just curious.

Generally no, my intention in making this list is not to suggest that people apply directly to any of these programs. I simply want to help other applicants who may be unaware of the programs that even offer terminal masters. The only likely scenario I can think is in the case of a program that doesn't "fit" that well. An MA program does not have to be extremely tailored to a person's interests in the way that a PhD program should be.

Edited by xdarthveganx
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Ok, I would love this thread to stay on topic as I am sure this is much needed information for a lot people.

In defense of my off-topic digression, I'm going to say that at first I entertained the hypothesis that you might have started this thread in order to learn about MA programs which could serve as backup plans in case you did not get into any of your choices. This is turn made me look at your choices and go OMG (no offense). This in turn made me rant about how to help you maximize your chances of admission, and then chaos ensued.

As for your original question, I am not aware of any ranking of US masters programs in sociology, sorry. I suppose most of the responses you'll receive will be based on reputation rather than a scientific methodology.

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Ok, I would love this thread to stay on topic as I am sure this is much needed information for a lot people.

I am grateful for the advice, but I think you all are taking my response the wrong way. I am well aware of the risks, I am very aware that there is a good possibility that I will get rejected from every single one of the schools that I am applying to. At the end of the day, I need to be happy with where I end up. I also don't think that applying to programs with poor job placement records is a very good idea. If my post came off in some way as over confident that simply isn't the case. I am not entirely confident about my chances, especially at 14 of the 16 schools on my list. I am ok with that. As far as a backup plan is concerned.. I don't need one other than finding a job. At the end of the day, without reliable job placement prospects, a PhD is simply not worth it.

Sorry for the digression, too! Just trying to help!

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Clemson and Virginia Tech would be two more terminal Master's programs. I have no idea where they fall in line with top programs though.

Arizona State was a good school that had a terminal Master's, but I believe they are dropping sociology at that university. If anyone has any knowledge about that, please comment. How sad, right?

I think this is a great topic, btw. I only applied to terminal Master's programs. I am too scared to jump into a big commitment (PhD) at this point. I'm sure there are many other reasons to chase the MA over the PhD, but that was my main concern.

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Arizona State was a good school that had a terminal Master's, but I believe they are dropping sociology at that university. If anyone has any knowledge about that, please comment. How sad, right?

Sorry, off-topic, but just a quick question. When something like this happens, what happens to the tenured and tenure-track faculty members?

Edited by giacomo
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Sorry, off-topic, but just a quick question. When something like this happens, what happens to the tenured and tenure-track faculty members?

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They are either reassigned within the university or - more likely - have to look for a job elsewhere.

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Yeah, that's kind of what I figured. What an unfortunate waste of tenure.

Also, Sociology is one of the favourite fields for university administrators to eliminate when the times are rough. There were rather good Sociology departments in Rochester and Washington University in St. Louis before they were closed for financial reasons.

In the case of Arizona State, I believe at least part of the department is being reoriented to the School of Transborder Studies.

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Also, Sociology is one of the favourite fields for university administrators to eliminate when the times are rough. There were rather good Sociology departments in Rochester and Washington University in St. Louis before they were closed for financial reasons.

In the case of Arizona State, I believe at least part of the department is being reoriented to the School of Transborder Studies.

What are some of the main arguments behind sociology being the first to be eliminated? Are they at least plausible?

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