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Looking for assessments of my background/application plan!


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I am working on my list of programs to apply to this Fall (for Fall 2014 entry). My plan is to visit them and get a sense of "fit" before finalizing applications, so that I don't waste time on anything that doesn't make sense. I would like to describe my background here, and then my thoughts about where I want to apply, to see if anyone has any advice! 

 

Background/Qualifications:

  • B.A. in Communication at a small, private liberal arts college - GPA 3.2, graduated in 2005
  • M.S. in Communications and Information Management at another small, private liberal arts college - GPA 3.97, graduated in 2009
  • Have been working since 2005, even while attending masters program. I am not in the communications field (although I was for a little while), but I am currently Assistant to the President of another small, liberal arts college with a good reputation.
  • GRE - 168V, 160Q, 4.5A
  • I believe that my recommenders will write me very strongly supportive letters, and they are all professors from my masters program
  • I am currently working on my personal statement, and have been doing a lot of research into how to write an effective one

Goals:

  • Broadly, I am interested in studying the impact of communication technologies and new media on society and our cultural development. I am researching programs now to make sure that they have professors that are doing research in the more specific areas of my interest.
  • I am not interested in leaving the Northeast, for personal reasons, so I am considering Communication PhD programs at the following schools: UMass Amherst, UConn, SUNY Albany, RPI. 
  • I am also considering the idea of applying to sociology programs (at pretty much the same schools, except for RPI), because my interests lie at the intersection of communication technology and society, but I am not sure if this is a good idea and would definitely be interested in hearing an opinions on this. Has anyone else tried this tactic?

Please let me know if you would need more information to give me an assessment of my plans - and thank you for any advice that you may have!

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  • I am also considering the idea of applying to sociology programs (at pretty much the same schools, except for RPI), because my interests lie at the intersection of communication technology and society, but I am not sure if this is a good idea and would definitely be interested in hearing an opinions on this. Has anyone else tried this tactic?

Please let me know if you would need more information to give me an assessment of my plans - and thank you for any advice that you may have!

 

Hi Ktmcg!  I am in a comm/media studies MA program looking to switch disciplines for the PhD, so I feel I can speak to your question there: if you are not passionate and versed in sociology as a discipline, I'd recommend looking for faculty that do research on technology and society in communications and media programs.  It is increasingly difficult to switch disciplines and you will be competing against other students with sociology backgrounds for very few funded spots.  The good news is it sounds like you have a solid profile and I'm sure any comm program would be happy to have you! 

 

If you are open to NY schools, I know there are a number of great faculty at NYU, Rutgers, CUNY and Columbia all working on STS/communication technology on some level.  I too have to stay in one geographic area, but it's definitely helpful to widen that net even if it means a bit of a commute...

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You will most likely not find a program that does not have faculty working on new media and how it impacts on culture or society. While reading it, I actually kept thinking what you might want to study in communication that does not have to at least loosely touch on new media technologies and their influences...

You might have not spelled it out for us here but that's such a broad description of your research areas that it will be hard to give you feedback on that.

:)

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Thanks, NOWAYNOHOW! You make a very good point about making a shift like that, especially when considering all-important funding. I think I am leaning toward just applying to Comm programs. Also, thank you for the suggestions of other programs to consider - I will definitely look into those as well.

 

Duna - yes, I kept it pretty broad, but some of the areas I am interested in include the history of "hacker" culture and how it has begun to permeate the mainstream, aspects of online personal identity development (creating profiles, leaving comments anonymously), and the future of educational technology. Does that help? I appreciate your feedback!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I always considered myself a sociologist but ended up in a Comm program because a professor there does identical research to mind.  The academic switch is tough for me mentally - I still tend to think of things in soc terms.

 

That said, sociology as a field is running a deficit and graduating few new PhDs each year than they have retiring.  If you want to be an academic, sociology offers a lot of opportunity.

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