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MA in the mist (not about gorillas)


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Hello all!

This is my virgin post. :P

(First of all - what a brilliant site - thank you all for contributing and making it so alive - wish I had known it earlier, it would have saved me all those sleepless nights and hair loss)

Background to questions (about me):

- am in the middle/end of applying for MA in Anthropology

- I am towards the end of my applications and it dawned on me again that I still don't really know what i am doing :o

- am interested in socio-cultural and linguistics (though it seems from the forum that linguistics is really missing the love - why is that?)

- have a bachelor in accounting

Q1. Regarding the expiry dates for MA application:

I currently still have U Penn (due sunday) and Columbia to apply (due mid april) and reading the panels has sent me on a bolt of fright - everybody is talking about acceptance letters and I am still here worming over application details. Could somebody explain the mechanics between MA and PhD applications - as in - I really ought to get everything sent away ASAP because though MA expires later I am really doing myself tremendous disfavor by not jumping into the pool and missing out on being examined?

Q2. Regarding writing to professors

I have often heard the need to get connected with professors with their fields of study and funding - but I really have no understanding of how all this works together. See, I am after a good overall basis education in Socio-Cultural (don't suppose I could also do Linguistics at the same time) in the MA degree, and hoping by then I have a clearer understanding to make a decision on research, and I have a very very broad area of interest. So I am trying to examine closely the faculty at each place, but have not found anything that jumps out and bites. I really don't know what to say to these good people?

I have tried to contact some faculty, but the information available on respective websites are often so thin and it's hard to gauge what they are about and find any of their writings in the biggest local university. Some has replied with information about possibilities which is not at the core of my interest. It is good manners to discuss with them something that is in the general field of their study but miles away from their research? Would this be of any help towards application? I just have many bugs-loony topics which (I think) could be very original but could be entirely out of the field of study (again I have no previous Anthro study, and have been told some of the ideas may belong to sociology, but then the divide between anthro and socio is also puzzling, different countries and universities seem to define them differently :roll: )

Q3. Field trip

Following on, does anybody know, how much actual field-work/ethnography is expected of MA students in their 2yr study? (I can't imagine setting out to remote jungle islands in half of the thesis year and writing up the other half yr.)

Q.4 Research grant

I am not form the USA and have been told that grant = research for professors = assistance work for MA students = acceptance criteria for MA applicants. Is this definitely true for my case? What ever happen to the 1 yr of coursework to bring newbies to track? If so, does that mean the applicants' chances is solely limited to whatever current grant research their prospective professors are doing?

Q.5 Funding

Again I apologize for not knowing the US system, but by the sound of the discussions it sounds like funding is meant as all the fees required for their study? So this is the critical decision on the applicant's side AFTER the university has decided to accept? As in, they tell us they accept, and if we cannot find the money to study then we have to decline?

Sorry for asking a ton of questions. Such is my inquisitive mind, and right now it's in a mist of uncertainties!

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Thank you Sachi, that's excellent! Just what I need!

Count your novel a fan! Your procrastination not wasted on this world!

Terminal MA -

So have you considered taking up a PhD elsewhere?

Rolling in admission -

Ya I have heard of that before, but I don't think I've heard particular mention of that for either U Penn or Columbia - could anybody give an aye or nay?

I suppose I am very naive on the subject, but I have some logical difficulties with the idea that if they set a non-rolling dead line, wouldn't it kind of make no sense if they have already made their choices before the time's up? :|

Scope -

Ya per your description, that's exactly I am diving into. Yup that's pretty much it! Good to get an reassurance that the scope for generalization is still there; apart from the evolutionary bio aspects that i am not too hot on, all the rest is good for me! I've only read the BROAD GENERALIZATION stressed on U Penn's site, so it's been a bit up the air.

Field -

Yup that's good news thanks. So by the sounds of it, you do get choices? Could you explain a bit on what an MA internship entails?

Blessings :P

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Sorry, I knew I didn't stand a snowball's chance of getting into UPenn or Columbia, so I'm not really familiar with the details of their programs or their application procedures. You can always call or email the department secretary or graduate secretary/coordinator in the department, they're usually very nice and helpful - especially if you aren't bugging them about application decisions! I'm sure they'd be happy to clarify anything you may have questions about, or point you in the direction of more specific information - just be sure you ask an answerable question, give them some idea of what you need to know, not just "please tell me about your program". =)

Terminal MA -

So have you considered taking up a PhD elsewhere?

Yes, I'm (hopefully) finishing my MA in May, and right now I'm waiting... and waiting... and waiting... to hear back from the schools I applied to, whether or not I'm accepted, and of course about their all-important funding decisions. I hate waiting. And I'm sick of my thesis. Which is why I'm procrastinating! :roll:

Field -

Yup that's good news thanks. So by the sounds of it, you do get choices? Could you explain a bit on what an MA internship entails?

Since I didn't do one, I have only limited knowledge. The people that I know about mostly worked in museums, and one did some kind of research project with the military. Basically, they have no interest in pursuing academia beyond the MA, so they're getting real-world experience and connections instead of doing the huge thesis research project.

As far as human evolution and bioanth goes, you don't have to like it particularly, but you do have to know it for most programs. After all, anthropology is at the most basic level "the study of people", which includes how people became people. The way it often works (again, every school is different, so I'm trying to be general) is that there are just a few required classes for all grad students, maybe one basic seminar in bioanth, one in archaeology, one in cultural, and everyone is required to do some kind of methods or research design class in their subfield of specialization. Then, other than that, you work with your adviser to decide which courses you need for skills & electives to prepare you and get you the knowledge you need, and to cover whatever else is required for the program.

Good luck!

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