Jump to content

Carnegie Mellon MA: Yea or Nay?


Recommended Posts

Hey guys! I'm a long-time lurker, and I'm feeling a bit shy about posting, so please be kind! :)

 

I am still waiting on a couple schools (I am a MASTER of waitlists...), but I have received an offer from CMU's MA program in Rhetoric. The department seems very kind and they have sent me a lot of emails inviting me to Pittsburgh and encouraging me to enroll. CMU is a dream school for sure. I love their curriculum and I know it's super prestigious. The cohort is usually only 10-12 students, so there's the promise of personal attention. But still, I was deferred from their PhD program down to the MA, which gives me some big concerns.

 

Firstly, the tuition. My little bro attends the school, so I'm well-aware of how stingy CMU is with scholarships. Still, I'm not particularly happy with the fact that at a school with 38,000 in tuition, I was offered a 17,250 scholarship. That's a large chunk of change left unaccounted for, not including the living expenses in Pitt. Granted, there ARE opportunities for employment--tutoring in the communications center, RA-ships, and an occasional TA-ship. Still... $12 for probably only 10-20 hours a week isn't fantastic at a school that expensive, is it?

 

But still, the school offers a 1-YEAR MA. That would make the tuition less painful. However, that does pose some potential problems, doesn't it? Is a 1-year MA too fast? Does it not offer me enough time to gauge where my interests lie and make stronger applications to PhD programs? I'd love to attend CMU's PhD program, but it's not necessarily a feeder MA, so...

 

So I guess my real question is this: If none of my other schools pan out, and I'm left with CMU's MA in Rhetoric as my only real option for grad school, should I follow my heart and attend CMU's awesome and interdisciplinary Rhetoric program, or should I follow my brain and not go into a bunch of debt for a stingy, 1-year program? I'm just not sure, and it's KILLING me.

 

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your scholarship is 17, 250 flat with no tuition remission or health insurance attached, and there's scant hope of tutition remission attached to an RA / TA post, I would personally decline and spend the money on strengthening my application to PhDs.

 

Also, I honestly believe that unless you come from the UK system (where you spend 3-4 years as an undergrad specialising in a field), the 1-year MA is too fast. Mine was 2 years, and I finagled things so that I completed all of my coursework in the first year and spent the second working on my thesis (I was also teaching). I needed every minute of that time. I know people adapt to situations, but to my mind the U.S. MA is supposed to provide both groundwork in a general field and the opportunity to reflect and focus one's interests; in a year it seems that perspective and depth of knowledge would be an issue.

 

The pace of grad-school is hugely different than that of undergrad, and when you take into consideration learning about professionalisation, preparing for PhD applications (if you choose to), taking advantage of extra-curricular opportunities, employment (if you need it), going the extra mile to make connections and build relationships, on top of actually taking your courses, it's a lot to fit into a year.

 

I think an MA is only worth it if it you can make it do the maximum amount of work for you. That's all dependent on your situation, but if it's a foundation for PhD apps, the stakes are a lot higher and the MA has a lot more work to do to be truly rewarding.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're already getting waitlists re-apply next year if you don't get off any of them. Seriously--it's not worth it, especially if you're already on the verge of being accepted to a program. Improve aspects of your application and apply to MORE PROGRAMS next year (supposing your waitlists don't turn in to anything). I'm sure you'll get in somewhere! You're already on the cusp of being admitted, so it really isn't work going into debt.

Edited by bluecheese
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice - that was my initial instinct too. One final concern. Say that money isn't necessarily as "big" a problem for me as it might be to some other people. If I have other possible sources of funding through personal relationships, not necessarily enough to mooch off of worry-free, but enough to significantly decrease the debt burden and the relinquish the pressure of immediately paying the tuition money back right after the degree, would that change your answers at all?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 CMU is a dream school for sure. I love their curriculum and I know it's super prestigious.

 

Is it "super prestigious"?  That's news to me.

 

Firstly, the tuition. My little bro attends the school, so I'm well-aware of how stingy CMU is with scholarships. Still, I'm not particularly happy with the fact that at a school with 38,000 in tuition, I was offered a 17,250 scholarship. That's a large chunk of change left unaccounted for, not including the living expenses in Pitt. Granted, there ARE opportunities for employment--tutoring in the communications center, RA-ships, and an occasional TA-ship. Still... $12 for probably only 10-20 hours a week isn't fantastic at a school that expensive, is it?

 

But still, the school offers a 1-YEAR MA. That would make the tuition less painful. However, that does pose some potential problems, doesn't it? Is a 1-year MA too fast? Does it not offer me enough time to gauge where my interests lie and make stronger applications to PhD programs? I'd love to attend CMU's PhD program, but it's not necessarily a feeder MA, so...

 

So I guess my real question is this: If none of my other schools pan out, and I'm left with CMU's MA in Rhetoric as my only real option for grad school, should I follow my heart and attend CMU's awesome and interdisciplinary Rhetoric program, or should I follow my brain and not go into a bunch of debt for a stingy, 1-year program? I'm just not sure, and it's KILLING me.

 

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!!!

 

Decline.  Living in Pittsburgh is comparatively inexpensive (I have friends there), but an only partially funded M.A. is almost always a bad idea as far as I'm concerned.  Graduate degrees in the humanities aren't worth going into debt.  Work on your apps and reapply next year if your wait lists don't convert (but I hope that they do!).

Edited by Two Espressos
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To play devil's advocate, I think that the CMU M.A. is a solid, viable option. 

 

Yes the tuition can be an issue, but the program is a good one. And while it may not be ranked the highest, they have a very strong, albeit small, faculty. 

 

And for what it's worth, if you're invested in pursuing a PhD, CMU is one of those programs that gladly and often does admit from within. If you take a look at the list of their current PhD students, you'll see that a shit ton of them have matriculated from their M.A. program. (Then again, this year, they only admitted three PhD students.)

 

One year isn't that uncommon, either, and most English M.A.'s offer little to no scholarships. It seems like you have a leg up on the majority. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.