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South Carolina Versus Georgia for History


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Hello all!


I am trying to make a decision regarding grad school and I'm having trouble. I am finishing my BA in history now and looking to go on in the field. My interest is US 20th century, particularly social movements and cultural history in the south.


I got into the University of South Carolina's PhD program. It is ranked 84th in history and they have a great public history program. If I go there I plan to get a PhD in U.S. since 1789 with a public history component. Public history is a pro because I could work in museums for a while if I can't get a position in academia right away. I'm wondering if I will sort of fall between the cracks of academia and museums if I go that two way route though.


I also got into the University of Georgia's MA program. It is ranked 56th in history. They have a good southern history program. They don't have public history so that could no longer be my backup. However, since it is just the masters program I can try and reapply to a better PhD program after two years, unlike at USC.


Both schools gave me funding, but USC gave me significantly more. USC gave me 22,000 + tuition (but the fellowship doesn't have me teaching history for 7 semesters which is a worry). UGA is giving me 14,000 + tuition.



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Have you worked or volunteered in a museum before? I have two questions for you to consider:

Regarding the option of USC

1) If you haven't worked in a museum, getting into the museum field is super competitive. Of course, this depends your connections, the location of the museum, and type(s) of museum job sought, as well as USC's preparation/job placement rate, but I'd *highly* recommend NOT assuming immediate employment upon receipt of the degree as a given fact. Generally, as you may know, there are so many applicants for a single position. Having an advanced degree, plus any internships, though, might get you an interview for a job. (Obtaining museum experience, along with the degree, is a critical part. I cannot emphasize that enough!)

Regarding the option of UG

2) Whether you've worked or a museum or not, could you work or intern during the MA program? It would be helpful to build experience, and maintain an active tie to museum work, during your studies. However, some departments don't look favorably upon the museum route... or even if they would, I'd still check in with the department if working alongside, earning your degree, is wise or acceptable.

NB: I've been involved with the museum field for the last several years. I also have a MA in Museum Studies. Second, I don't know much regarding history programs to help you. I'm actually most interested in the American Revolution and the styles of furniture which manifested during that time. (Though I do have eclectic 20th century interests: Louis Comfort Tiffany, Anne Frank/Holocaust, McCarthyism -- so, hi there!)

Bottom line:

If you want my recommendation, I'd say do the MA, prove yourself as a scholar, try to work or volunteer at a museum (school breaks or during the school year), and then reapply for PhD programs. You may find through your work as a MA student, you are a much stronger PhD candidate. You may also discover the joys of working in a history museum. :-)

Edited by ArtHistoryandMuseum
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