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What's with the Masters consolation prizes?


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I recently got a sorry no PhD but how about a masters instead offer. I' happy I got it and will probably accept but isn't that whole thing a bit odd?

 

Just looking at the results search it seems like this is happening to a lot of people this year. Is this very common? Why do you think they do this?    

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It means you were insufficient for entry into the PhD program (relative to other applicants who made it in) but someone they would accept into their masters program (whose threshold for acceptance is higher). Some schools explicitly separate their PhD and masters streams for explicitly this reason, they don't want the masters program perceived as some watered down version for people who couldn't get into the PhD program (so you only apply to PhD or masters directly, not both, and there is no cross-over). Schools who don't fund their masters students typically want their masters programs full, since self-funded students means cheap(er) labor.

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I don't think it's the publications, as few applicants have them anyway.  But I think it's common now for programs to notice a student who is promising but not yet ready for PhD admissions.  They aren't willing to take a gamble on them for the PhD, but they are interested in taking the student as an MA/MS student and developing that candidate (at no cost to them) either for admission to their own PhD or another PhD program.  It is also an eye on the bottom line kind of thing, since these programs typically offer little funding and cost enormous amounts of money.

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