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PhD Application Turned into an MA Application


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Someone recently told me that when he applied to a top tier PhD program a few years ago (for Hebrew Bible), they countered with an invitation to pursue an MA with them. He took up their offer, studied there, and is now presently working on his PhD with them (and they used his Master's credits toward his PhD credits).

 

Is this done with moderate frequency, or do most programs simply reject you outright?

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Are you aware of any schools that specifically do this (he was at Vanderbilt)?

 

From ones I've applied to, UChicago may refer you to their MAPSS/MAPH program, and BC asks whether you would like to be considered for their MA program if your PhD app is rejected.

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I think most do not, though I have heard that Chicago commonly does this for most of their humanities applicants for their sort of catch-all MA humanities degree (which I think most receive 50% funding, but rarely is it fully funded).

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I have heard of McMaster doing this as well as Yale and Union. The students (now faculty) I know who went through the programs graduated with both an MA and PhD and I believe the graduation was simultaneous though work must have been done previous to certain exams.

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I would say that most tend not to do this, if I am understanding you correctly.  It depends on the program, but a lot of PhD programs will have a Post-Bachelors and Post-Masters PhD track.  For the former, you would get a M.A. of some sort in the process of getting your PhD, usually after passing your exams - but the programs typically don't accept people just for the M.A. (and you will see this borne out on a lot of admissions websites if you read the fine print).  Some places might suggest you pursue a M* degree if they feel that you have a decent application, but have some deficiences that would be remedied in such a program.  A few, namely U Chicago and BC (that have been mentioned that that I have also heard about) will sometimes offer acceptance into some kind of MA program, but it is rarely with the expectation that you'll simply continue on to a PhD afterwards at the same place.  It might be a possibilitiy, but I think you'd likely have to apply to the PhD again the same way as everyone.

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Thanks. Just to clarify: he was not accepted into the MA program with the agreement that he would automatically continue into the PhD program. He had to then re-apply for the PhD after the MA. So that is my question: do schools sometimes offer you admission into their M* program if you are not quite ready for their PhD program? Obviously, this would be huge so one doesn't have to wait for a whole year (and waste a whole year) to then apply to the M* program.

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I think, as Abrasax said, most of these programs simply do not have MA programs. Most of the websites simply say so, though some do not. Even at BC, from my understanding the terminal MA is more or less going out because of the somewhat recently formed STM (which offers an MTS, MDIV, etc.). Again, Chicago is the only school I have ever seen that you can petition to stay on the PhD, while every other website I have seen always says something like "you must apply like everyone else."

 

I have also seen some departments say "we acceptance MA students occasionally" and so on, but most simply do not. So there would be no MA program for you to end up at if they didn't think you were prepared. Chicago, again, seems to be the exception. But I have never heard, for example, of someone applying to Yale's Religious Studies PhD and then been offered admission at the Div School for an MAR. Though it certainly has happened, eh??

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I think, as Abrasax said, most of these programs simply do not have MA programs. Most of the websites simply say so, though some do not. Even at BC, from my understanding the terminal MA is more or less going out because of the somewhat recently formed STM (which offers an MTS, MDIV, etc.). Again, Chicago is the only school I have ever seen that you can petition to stay on the PhD, while every other website I have seen always says something like "you must apply like everyone else."

 

I have also seen some departments say "we acceptance MA students occasionally" and so on, but most simply do not. So there would be no MA program for you to end up at if they didn't think you were prepared. Chicago, again, seems to be the exception. But I have never heard, for example, of someone applying to Yale's Religious Studies PhD and then been offered admission at the Div School for an MAR. Though it certainly has happened, eh??

 

Chicago requires a re-application after you complete the MAPSS/MAPH, but they have a rumored tendency to show preference to students who stood out in those programs. I am not aware of Chicago offering a straight MA.

 

Most schools award MAs as part of the PhD, usually after the successful completion of generals. 

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