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Speaking of SOP I feel so much better about this application cycle's version that while not finished at all I definitely know what I want to do 300% more than what I thought was specific last year. 

 

Glad to hear it! Sometimes it takes awhile to completely narrow it down. Or you have a class that totally changes your mind and what you thought you wanted you really didn't. Good luck to you this season!

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BTW, since I've enjoyed being part of this community for a number of years now I'd just like to celebrate.   As of this morning when my dissertation prospectus was signed off... i'm officially ABD. 

You haven't necessarily been waitlisted. At my (exceedingly middle-of-the-road) program, we divide the applicant pool into tranches. Last year, out of about 100 applicants, there were 70 or so who wer

I will defend my use of "office ladies".  It's a category in part because service jobs at universities are almost always done by women and to pretend otherwise is it's own form of othering.  In fact I

A suggestion. When someone points out that your grasp of vibrant trajectories of historical scholarship isn't what it might be, hold off on giving a snarky reply until after you've shown that you're taking corrective steps to get on track and up to speed. While your classmates will typically appreciate the humor, your professors will be taking and comparing notes. (And some professors will get on your case, then and there.)

p.s. When are historians going to stop calling Atlantic history "nascent"? It's been around since the 50s and popular since the 80s! (not at all a dig at you, jamc8383, it seems to be a discipline-wide convention).

  

Na-scent. Naaaa-ssscccent. It is fun to say.

JMP--

As a Europeanist, you might profit from taking a look at chapter seven of J.H. Elliott's memoir.

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Hello everyone!

 

I've been a long time reader of these boards and I have decided to register and start posting as I will be applying for my PhD this fall. I have just finished my MA and decided to take a year off to ready my applications.

 

Just a little bit about myself, and then a few questions. I focused on American history for the MA and I really want to continue research in that field. However being Canadian, and also worried about getting into American schools, I have decided to also apply for a similar project in Canadian history should I end up only getting into Canadian schools.

 

My interests lay in late nineteenth and twentieth century American cultural history. I guess I have two major interests within this broad framework. First, I am interested in the relationship between older traditions of magic, spiritualism and the occult, and the emerging scientific worldview of the twentieth century (My MA focused on this). My second interest lay in the development of a culture of consumption from reconstruction to WWII. I would like to do a cultural history of salesmanship, from the traveling salesman to the department store demonstration.

 

Now on to my questions. First does anyone have any suggestions for schools for these projects? Schools I'm applying for sure are: University of North Carolina, Rutgers, University of Michigan and Wisconsin. I've been thinking about Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Minnesota, Harvard, Yale and Princeton, but I don't think these are perfect fits.

 

That leads me to my next question. What should I be looking for in terms of a fit? Should I look for professors that border on my specialization or should I be looking for a department with strengths in American cultural history, and a strong focus on the late nineteenth and twentieth century.

 

Finally, What is everyone's opinion on applying to different programs with two projects? Should I do this or should I decide on a single path? (I can always pursue other projects later in my career).

 

Thanks in advance! I look forward to going through this process with you all!

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How long should the writing sample be, and is it okay if it is not completely related to your topic? For example, I plan on applying for French Colonial History (with the intent of focusing on Haiti). The paper I'm thinking of using for my writing sample is about 18 pages long and is about Vichy France. I like it, because the essay displays my ability to use documents written in French as a part of my research. 

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Canadiensfan: Your first project sounds like it might fit in well at schools with strong history of science programs. I think New England Nate would be able to cover this a little better, but I know Cornell, Princeton, and Harvard (in the latter case, History of Science is a separate PhD program) have good ones. You may also want to think about American Studies or History of American Civilizations programs that might let you work on more expansive or interdisciplinary projects. As to your second question, I would apply as widely as possible. Find the programs with both the best narrow and broad fits and see where you get in. Admissions can be a crapshoot and you may not wind up with the choices you'd expect. As for your third question, see the discussion above about applying with two different projects in mind that are vaguely within the same general field. I did this in my application on the assumption that it wouldn't look good to have recommenders talk up one focus area if I claimed I would go in another in an application to some schools, but I think it hurt me. The best thing to do might be to make absolutely sure you're on the same page as your recommenders so that nothing they say will "give away" that you've applied to different schools with different foci in mind.

 

kenningsa: Programs usually have restrictions on the length of writing samples they'll accept. I think the shortest I encountered when I was applying was 20 pages. I don't think a slightly shorter sample will hurt you if its contents are good. That said, I was really taken aback by how much people at the program I was admitted to considered my writing sample indicative of the topic I'd eventually pursue in grad school. You might want to make absolutely clear in your SOP that you intend to move in another direction and use the opportunity to talk up how your research on French history has prepared you to research Haiti in a unique way.

Edited by czesc
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How long should the writing sample be, and is it okay if it is not completely related to your topic? For example, I plan on applying for French Colonial History (with the intent of focusing on Haiti). The paper I'm thinking of using for my writing sample is about 18 pages long and is about Vichy France. I like it, because the essay displays my ability to use documents written in French as a part of my research. 

 

Mind you this was for an MA and not a PhD, but the shortest I found was 5-8 pages, the longest I had was 25. The average was 10-12 pages including bibliographic material. 

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How long should the writing sample be, and is it okay if it is not completely related to your topic? For example, I plan on applying for French Colonial History (with the intent of focusing on Haiti). The paper I'm thinking of using for my writing sample is about 18 pages long and is about Vichy France. I like it, because the essay displays my ability to use documents written in French as a part of my research. 

 

All of my programs were vastly different in length, and each of them will say so under their prospective student section. The maximum range went from 5 pages at one program to another's "no limit."

 

As for topic: I chose something similar but not quite what I want to do as my writing sample, because it was an excerpt from my undergraduate thesis and showed a lot of the critical analysis I had done. However, this year I do not intend on using the same writing sample and, in fact, want to tailor my writing samples to each program. This is because I'm going to be hopping between History PhD programs and a lot of interdisciplinary East Asian programs, so I want to make sure that my capabilities are clear to the committee. (:

 

The point is: what do you think is your absolute best work? Off topic? Prove how it relates to what you are now and the positives. 

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Hello everyone!

 

Five months after publishing here for the first time I can now say my interests are much more defined. I'm now writing my MA dissertation and I getting more and more passionate about my field everyday and getting more confident in my skills and my chances of getting into a good program, as an international student.

 

Basically, my dissertation is about european diplomatic agents in the 17th and 18th centuries and how they related with local communities. It's an Atlantic History MA, but I'll also get some perspectives from sociology, political science and law. I would like to continue to a PhD program in this field, in the US. I have a preference for New England (I'm going to Brown next year for two months, for a research trip), since it has a close relationship to the Atlantic and my homeland, but I'm open to other places.

 

Now: what schools would you recommend? I really want to continue with this timeframe (17th and 18th centuries) and topic of work. 

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Hi everyone,

 

This upcoming spring, I'll have graduated from UMass Dartmouth with a BA in History, so naturally I've been looking deep into possible Master's programs. I've been quite stumped as to what schools would be best for my interests, though. What I want to study is social and intellectual history during Renaissance Italy. I'm also particularly fascinated in the more prominent families of the time period, such as the Medicis, the Borgias, the Sforzas, etc.

 

So, what schools have good Master's programs for European history? One of my top choices was Brown, but from what I've read, there are probably better choices than Brown as far as European history goes. I've also looked into Penn and UC Berkeley but I'm stumped otherwise.

 

Recommendations?

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Canadiensfan: Your first project sounds like it might fit in well at schools with strong history of science programs. I think New England Nate would be able to cover this a little better, but I know Cornell, Princeton, and Harvard (in the latter case, History of Science is a separate PhD program) have good ones. You may also want to think about American Studies or History of American Civilizations programs that might let you work on more expansive or interdisciplinary projects. As to your second question, I would apply as widely as possible. Find the programs with both the best narrow and broad fits and see where you get in. Admissions can be a crapshoot and you may not wind up with the choices you'd expect. As for your third question, see the discussion above about applying with two different projects in mind that are vaguely within the same general field. I did this in my application on the assumption that it wouldn't look good to have recommenders talk up one focus area if I claimed I would go in another in an application to some schools, but I think it hurt me. The best thing to do might be to make absolutely sure you're on the same page as your recommenders so that nothing they say will "give away" that you've applied to different schools with different foci in mind.

Thank you for the advice!

I've thought about both Princeton and Harvard, and I looked into Cornell on your advice and I think I will strongly consider applying to them. My only issue with Harvard is I don't want to get a PhD in the History of Science, I'd much rather get a PhD in history with a specialty in the history of science (not sure of this really matters). I've also looked into UPenn but it is a separate program much like Harvard.

American studies isn't something I have given much thought to, but I have looked at Yale's program, as well as the one at Brown. Not sure of this is something I want to further explore. Like I said I very much want to work in history. However I know of some great historians who have american studies degrees.

Thanks again for the great advice!

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Hi everyone,

This upcoming spring, I'll have graduated from UMass Dartmouth with a BA in History, so naturally I've been looking deep into possible Master's programs. I've been quite stumped as to what schools would be best for my interests, though. What I want to study is social and intellectual history during Renaissance Italy. I'm also particularly fascinated in the more prominent families of the time period, such as the Medicis, the Borgias, the Sforzas, etc.

So, what schools have good Master's programs for European history? One of my top choices was Brown, but from what I've read, there are probably better choices than Brown as far as European history goes. I've also looked into Penn and UC Berkeley but I'm stumped otherwise.

Recommendations?

Not really something I know a lot about, but I have heard a lot of good things about University of Toronto and it's European history (seems to be it's strength). Might be worth looking into.

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Hey all! I'm pretty nervous about applying since my bachelor's was in poli sci, not in history, but I'm going to treat this round of applications as an experiment, so that I don't get my heart broken if I get rejected from everywhere  :angry:.

 

I'm looking to focus on the development, successes, and (most importantly) failures of second-wave feminism, with some queer studies stuff thrown in -- here are the schools that, I'm sure, are already breathlessly awaiting my applications, in some order of preference:

 

Stanford

Princeton

Wisconsin

USC

UCLA

Michigan

UT-Austin

Minnesota

 

 

 

 

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meg11, you might try Rutgers for gender/women's history; they've at least 20 professors in that subfield alone, if I recall correctly!

Edited by girlscoutcookies
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Thanks for that, girlscoutcookies! My real reason for not including Rutgers on the list is because I went to college in Philly, and am trying to steer as clear of that geographic area as possible -- it's not talked about much, but I know that (for me, at least), the environment in which I'll be spending five years is just as important as the advisor and the school. 

 

I do have a question for all you esteemed folks, though: I contacted a POI, who told me that he will be on leave for 2014-2015. Is it still worth applying to that program? Would I say that I hoped to work with him when he returned?

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For the record, in the last week I have contacted two POIs who are currently on leave.

Both suggested that I apply to their respective schools anyway and suggested that, despite their current distance from the school, they would still have some say in who was or was not accepted.

 

I know that doesn't exactly answer your question, but perhaps it helps someone? Or not? I hope so.

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it's not talked about much, but I know that (for me, at least), the environment in which I'll be spending five years is just as important as the advisor and the school. 

 

Environment was an important factor for me as well. The aesthetics of a place can affect one's mood, desire to be on campus, and sense of welcome vs. alienation to a huge degree, so it's not trivial!

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I do have a question for all you esteemed folks, though: I contacted a POI, who told me that he will be on leave for 2014-2015. Is it still worth applying to that program? Would I say that I hoped to work with him when he returned?

 

I think since you are going for a PhD, go for it. Depending on the department, the level of funding, etc., any number of professors can be on leave at one time and they rotate their sabbaticals. Just because they aren't going to be there your first year doesn't mean the next 5-6 they won't. Also, Skype is a beautiful thing. I just attended my own History orientation and they actually advocate doing Research Seminars with professors that are on leave. 

 

Also, what the program might do is give you a temporary adviser and so you work with them until your POI returns. 

 

Completely non-related to your question is a comment for all of you: Professors don't know the nitty-gritty. If you want numbers, ask the department secretaries. They are usually the sweetest, most helpful people and they know EVERYTHING. They know where on campus to do x, y and z as well as who to talk to about r,s and t. 

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Environment was an important factor for me as well. The aesthetics of a place can affect one's mood, desire to be on campus, and sense of welcome vs. alienation to a huge degree, so it's not trivial!

 

This is a perfectly legitimate desire--but if being able to choose the part of the country (or the kind of town) in which you live is really important to you, you should consider very carefully whether getting a PhD is a good fit. This is not a profession that allows you to pick where you want to work. The very fortunate graduates get a tenure-track offer, often in a two-stoplight town with a Taco Bell. The job market simply doesn't afford the luxury of being geographically selective--something you should take into account if location is really important to your quality of life.

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I know you're speaking to an audience that is not me, but man I hate it when people knock two stoplight towns. I'm not applying to a school in the exact town I live in because I've lived here seven years and I'm tired of it, and while I'm applying to several in the region I'm hoping ones outside of it accept me because I'd prefer to do something new for a while. But if I pull this off, I *want* to live in a two stoplight town, because I'm from one and they're the perfect places to be a family. It's possible to have regional preferences for school in your late twenties without refusing to live in the "middle of nowhere" when you're done.

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I love two-stoplight towns, too. Plenty of people prefer them to cities, for all sorts of reasons I can easily understand.

 

My point is that this isn't a profession that offers much in the way of choices in that respect--so if you know you'll only be happy in a big city or the mountains or a two-stoplight town, or refuse to work in the south, or insist on being on the East Coast, you should seriously think about whether pursuing a PhD and an academic position makes sense for you. There are a lot of wonderful things about being an academic, but the freedom to choose where you want to work is not usually among them.

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Fair point Prof Plum, no doubt that academia is more restrictive than many professions, and if you're heart-set on a certain attribute in particular like the examples you noted I can see how it would lead to real problems. That said, it seems less restrictive than others, because at least you roll the dice on a huge range of places rather than something like finance that's pretty much lower Manhattan or politics that's pretty much DC or whatever. That's something I'm comfortable with: there are obviously places I'd prefer over others, but I'm pretty open with the idea of seeing what happens after I graduate (and, with the exception of where I'm at now, even with school itself). I just wanted to put out a voice in defense of small towns!

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This is a perfectly legitimate desire--but if being able to choose the part of the country (or the kind of town) in which you live is really important to you, you should consider very carefully whether getting a PhD is a good fit. This is not a profession that allows you to pick where you want to work. The very fortunate graduates get a tenure-track offer, often in a two-stoplight town with a Taco Bell. The job market simply doesn't afford the luxury of being geographically selective--something you should take into account if location is really important to your quality of life.

 

I'm well aware of that, which is why I'm almost certainly going in a non-academic direction after the PhD.  I value novelty and adventure, and being welded to some random, uncongenial place for 40 years (as the almost-best-case scenario!) would kill me.

 

(For the record, I've lived in many different kinds of places and have found things to like about them all.  But the idea of not having a choice is too horrible.)

 

Even for those who are planning to stay in academe, it's not silly to apply to PhD programs in places you like, all other things being equal.  The PhD is a good chunk of your life.  Might as well spend it in an environment that you think will support your happiness and sanity before you ship off to points unknown.

Edited by Katzenmusik
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near. I decided to take my time and finish my MA thesis this fall while I find a job to hold me over.

 

@oseirus - Nice to see you hanging around again!

 

- Sadly I'm not around as much as I used to be ... this MA thing takes up more of my time than I thought ... I need to bang out a chapter by the end of this month so I can have my referees look over it and give me their take.  How are things w/you?

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