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Macrina

so, which are the "most competitive" programs?

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Wow! Thank you. That cheers me up!! He must have had some outstanding strengths in other areas, of course. About all I have going for me is my good looks - and even with that, I'm getting older.  :)

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Yes, I am definitely aware of the challenges of this and was somewhat inviting people to share any anecdotal information they could - e.g., I seem to remember someone saying recently that all three of the OT/HB students that were admitted at Emory in the last year or two came from Harvard, Yale, and Duke (or something to the effect).

 

What I really want is someone to say, "Oh, no, you have awesome chances in getting into a top HB/OT program even though you didn't go to a top-tier school for your M* degree!" That is very wishful thinking, I know! I actually know of a number of individuals that went to my school who were admitted into Vanderbilt (both for OT and NT) - a school to which I am actually not planning to apply.

 

Well, sure, I wouldn't rule yourself out of top programs strictly based on where you went for your M degree.  I've know some from smaller/less known schools who were accepted to TT programs.  Go for it. 

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Isn't this a little too anecdotal? Sure, I can understand it providing the tiniest sliver of hope and yes that's meaningful, but how far does that deviate from the norm to the point that it's an extreme outlier?

 

It's possible. A friend of mine came from a tiny bible college, then a similarly tiny seminary, and landed at Johns Hopkins (HB/ANE) after JH and UChicago got in a bidding war over him.

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... but how far does that deviate from the norm to the point that it's an extreme outlier?

 

Since we cannot know the norm without all the necessary data, it is helpful. Anecdotes are all we have. I will be applying anyway (next year), so hard data is not necessary. Just a little encouragement to help me keep moving forward!

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I guess we just have to agree to disagree here. I just know too many people in "top tier" (e.g., NT at Duke) programs that can't get a job anywhere (for years), even though they've published and are doing great work. Their problem isn't that they're aiming too high, the job market is just really really tough.

 

I know people too who are at good, but not great, programs, and life is really tough for them. Their work suffers because of all the teching they have to do, or, once they graduate, they can't get a job at all. Their problem isn't that they're not willing to teach at a small college, or go into work outside the academy, but to get any employment.

 

It might sound like a good idea just to do something you love, even if it's not top tier, when you're 25ish, but it's not going to be fun five-ten years later if you end up with a domestic partner (and perhaps kids) who resents you for following a plan that's less realistic buying lottery tickets every day.

 

Fair enough, but by "can't get a job anywhere," do you mean any type of job anywhere regardless of the qualifications required? As in, for years the people you know couldn't even get a job as a Starbucks barista?

 

My point was only that getting a Ph.D is a risk no matter where you go. We all went into this knowing that there are way more of us than there are jobs. Therefore, "the job market" can't mean only jobs in academia or even only jobs directly related to our field. I don't know about you, but if I can't get a job at a college, a private high school, a publishing house, the government, a church, then I guess I'll have to do what everyone else does and find a job somewhere else--and be thrilled that I had the opportunity to be paid to earn a Ph.D in something I love. I know people don't like hearing that they might have to work a "normal" job, but accepting that as a possibility is probably a good idea.

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Yes, I am definitely aware of the challenges of this and was somewhat inviting people to share any anecdotal information they could - e.g., I seem to remember someone saying recently that all three of the OT/HB students that were admitted at Emory in the last year or two came from Harvard, Yale, and Duke (or something to the effect).

 

What I really want is someone to say, "Oh, no, you have awesome chances in getting into a top HB/OT program even though you didn't go to a top-tier school for your M* degree!" That is very wishful thinking, I know! I actually know of a number of individuals that went to my school who were admitted into Vanderbilt (both for OT and NT) - a school to which I am actually not planning to apply.

 

I study theology, not HB/OT, but I went to community college, a Cal State, a 2nd/3rd tier state school in Colorado, and then Fuller Seminary, and I'm at Northwestern now.

 

Though I suppose that Northwestern doesn't count for some on this board.

 

I do have a friend who was at Fuller with me (also attended a community college), and he is now at Yale doing NT.

 

It is definitely possible.

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So, if it's next to impossible to find a teaching position unless you have the "right pedigree," isn't the same true with getting into a PhD program to begin with? How many of these top programs actually accept students who did not get an M* degree from a top school?

 

I think this is a rather hysterical take on the more nuanced things other people have actually been saying. In my time at the Big H - three years and change - I've known a lot of students from a lot of different schools. Ivy league schools are definitely over represented for BAs and MAs. "Next to impossible" though? No.

 

In some ways there's self-selection going on here. If people don't have the skills to make a good pre-doc program, they might be less likely to develop them in general, so there's some post hoc problems with attributing placement to school.

Edited by telkanuru

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Yes, I am definitely aware of the challenges of this and was somewhat inviting people to share any anecdotal information they could - e.g., I seem to remember someone saying recently that all three of the OT/HB students that were admitted at Emory in the last year or two came from Harvard, Yale, and Duke (or something to the effect).

 

What I really want is someone to say, "Oh, no, you have awesome chances in getting into a top HB/OT program even though you didn't go to a top-tier school for your M* degree!" That is very wishful thinking, I know! I actually know of a number of individuals that went to my school who were admitted into Vanderbilt (both for OT and NT) - a school to which I am actually not planning to apply.

 

I went from a small liberal arts college to an evangelical divinity school to the PhD at BC in early/medieval historical theology.  From my own experience I would like to say that it is quite possible to move into a competitive, well-funded program from a non top-tier M* program.  On the other hand, when I was sharing this bit of encouragement with an applicant recently I realized that this is the exception to the rule in our area, in which the other current doctoral students' M* degrees are as follows: 3 Harvard, 3 Duke, 1 Princeton, and 1 Notre Dame.  We did have one other student accepted last year who had done his M* at a Greek Orthodox seminary, but this was his second M* degree.  I don't say this to be discouraging.  I do think that "fit" in a program, along with other aspects of your application, matters a great deal and that we all have enough cumulative anecdotal experience to affirm that you can move from a less-than-prestigious M* program into a competitive doctoral program.  But it is also very helpful to be realistic.  Such inspiring stories are abnormal and if you look at where accepted students at places such as Yale, Harvard, Duke, Notre Dame and Chicago did their M* degree(s), the vast  majority earned their degrees at Yale, Harvard, Duke, Notre Dame and Chicago.  Whether you agree with such preferential treatment or not, this is simply the reality of how things are during a time of incredible competition in higher education.  So, go for it, but do it with your eyes wide open and do it with a plan B.

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Isn't this a little too anecdotal? Sure, I can understand it providing the tiniest sliver of hope and yes that's meaningful, but how far does that deviate from the norm to the point that it's an extreme outlier?

How can an anecdote be too anecdotal? All I said was it's possible. Which it is. And then I gave evidence that it is possible. Take it or leave it, man. I really don't care.

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Fair enough, but by "can't get a job anywhere," do you mean any type of job anywhere regardless of the qualifications required? As in, for years the people you know couldn't even get a job as a Starbucks barista?

 

My point was only that getting a Ph.D is a risk no matter where you go. We all went into this knowing that there are way more of us than there are jobs. Therefore, "the job market" can't mean only jobs in academia or even only jobs directly related to our field. I don't know about you, but if I can't get a job at a college, a private high school, a publishing house, the government, a church, then I guess I'll have to do what everyone else does and find a job somewhere else--and be thrilled that I had the opportunity to be paid to earn a Ph.D in something I love. I know people don't like hearing that they might have to work a "normal" job, but accepting that as a possibility is probably a good idea.

I guess I just see things differently now that I'm in my fifth year. I now think it's just too easy to think things will work out fine, when they often don't.

 

So, for example, with regards to getting a job at Starbucks. Some of these people probably could have, but it gets really tricky. If you just spend six years not only getting a PhD, but being very stressed and working every weekend, etc., it's very tough just to end that by getting a job at Starbucks. Because being successful in this business is a full time job, and you pretty much end any chance of success by dropping out and working at a Starbucks. You're not going to have successful publications and presentations that way. You get farther behind. I guess if you were willing to take the gamble and go the PhD route, you're not going to quit in the first year of not getting a job, but then that first year become two, then three. So I guess I don't see how the same person who goes all in initially then becomes a person who drops out right away.

 

And with regards to publishing jobs or government jobs, whatever, those really aren't that easy to get either. The jobs that make sense for humanities PhDs to take are flooded with applications from humanities phds (and many of them from "top" programs).  And just "doing what everybody else does," that's hard too. You'll struggle to get a job because you'll be considered over-qualified. And jobs these days just aren't being handed out. Who's going to give you a decent job just for having a PhD? All of that is to say, entry level work sucks not only because it'll be very hard to get with a PhD, by the time you graduate, you'll probably be at an age and level of responsibility where you'll not be thrilled with the money and the demands of being a cashier at Target. Getting a "regular" professional job that pays in the mid-30's won't be easy either. They don't want to deal with people they'll be threatened by as smarter than them. These things aren't just sitting there for the taking, especially if you're basically been unemployed for a year or two.

 

Maybe what's really separating us, though, is our conception of getting a PhD. I love my advisor and think I'm incredibly well supported. In addition, my program is very well-funded. I'm good enough financially then. But I just view it as really stressful and consuming. I don't get weekends really, for example. Something that didn't bother me years ago, but is getting a little old now. I don't have any promises that I'll actually get a job or recognized for any of my hard work. It is somethign that I love, but it's not like like getting a PhD is just a fun joy ride. And not that you're saying that, but you do seem to view it as pretty much a fun time. That's great for you, and maybe that's the way it is (or will be) for most people here. And if that's true for you, I can't say that you're wrong. I guess just looking at it now, for me, it's a hell of a lot of work and years lost only to end up very unemployable. That's why I don't think people should do it unless they're in a great situation, with a great advisor and in a very top program. The friends I know in top programs are having it hard enough (whether before or after finishing). The friends I have in mid-level programs, none of them are just having fun, looking forward to quitting and working at Starbucks at 32.

Edited by Joseph45

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Don't get me wrong--it is incredibly hard work! I'm only in the second year of my program, but my seventh of grad school over all. I'm completely burnt out on course work. But I also getting along really well with my advisor, am pretty well funded, and love what I study. I don't know if I feel like getting a Ph.D is a joy ride... I think I just feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am. I definitely agree regarding the amount of work this takes though.

 

I guess I'm just not convinced that we're necessarily in all that worse a position than anyone else who has to go out onto the job market with any humanities degree. I don't think you're wrong that some might see us as overqualified, "too smart," etc. or that one probably wouldn't want to give up on a teaching gig after one shot at it or that it would be hard to find employment after two years of being unemployed. And I don't think anyone would be excited about a job at Starbucks or Target after going through a Ph.D program. But I wasn't saying that it'll be easier to get "any job" just because one has a Ph.D. Each and every situation for someone with a degree in the humanities, whether all one has is an A.A. from a community college or a Ph.D from a TT school, presents its own unique challenges and advantages.

 

When I only had a BA in English, getting a job teaching high school English in California was going to be nearly impossible for me without an MA. I was finishing my credential in 2007, right as the economy was falling off a cliff and schools were cutting teachers left and right. So I went to get an MA in English, decided not to go back to high school teaching, started teaching community college, thought I could do better, wanted to do something different, went to seminary, worked as a youth pastor while getting my MA in theology, and now I'm here. In each employment situation, I had certain advantages and disadvantages brought on by my education. I was a long shot for grad school to begin with going into my first MA. I have a 3.17 undergrad GPA, and I really had no clue what grad school entailed. Maybe I feel like I've just always beaten the odds!  :)

 

Ultimately, I don't disagree with you. Getting a Ph.D is incredibly difficult and getting a job afterward is, I'm sure, going to be incredibly difficult. I'm just trying to look on the bright side of things I guess.

Edited by marXian

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 I seem to remember someone saying recently that all three of the OT/HB students that were admitted at Emory in the last year or two came from Harvard, Yale, and Duke (or something to the effect).

 

The last 6 HB at Emory are from:

 

Wheaton, Yale, GTU, Princeton, Princeton, Emory.

 

Ph.D. candidate bios are usually readily available online for top programs.  If you really want to know, you should read those.

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An HB from Trinity Western in CA was admitted to Emory's PhD in the last two or three years too. By the way, the best way to overcome whence you come is to meet people, face to face or by phone, so that they know who you are (if you are from an obscure school). 

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An HB from Trinity Western in CA was admitted to Emory's PhD in the last two or three years too. By the way, the best way to overcome whence you come is to meet people, face to face or by phone, so that they know who you are (if you are from an obscure school). 

 

From where?

 

 

...Oh. Ohhhh, I see what you did there. Hahahaha.

 

**Edit, this is just me being delusional and exhausted while trying to be funny, btw. I wasn't being serious, hahaha**

Edited by MsBOOM

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http://gdr.emory.edu/people/student-directory.html

 

Magical link to Emory's GDR student bios.  Know them all.  Interestingly, only 11 or 12 were admitted to the entire GDR last year because of less funding.  Normally 18 or so are admitted.  

Edited by Perique69

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Certain Emory profs have told me they don't like to talk to students before the application process has narrowed it down, therefore I am not applying there....trivia.

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I don't know if this is helpful or not, since the discussion has now shifted to how your M* affects your PhD chances at a top school, but the advice my advisor/friend gave me when I started applying to M*'s is that I need to consider that the school I choose for my M* will most likely narrow my options for a PhD. In his opinion/advice, it is much easier to get into a PhD program that is at the same level or below where you did your Masters (which makes sense). So if your goal is a PhD at a top-tier school, then you increase your odds by doing a M* at a top-tier school. That isn't to say that you can't get into a PhD program with a M* from a 2nd or 3rd tier school, but statistically (as people have pointed out with Emory's PhDs) a vast majority (I'll estimate 85%) come from a top-tier school. So if you get your M* from a "lower" school, then you are essentially competing against all other 2nd & 3rd tier graduates for that 15%.

 

Conversely, if your goal is getting a teaching gig at seminary or the like, then a M* or PhD from a more mainline (liberal?) school may actually hurt your chances (depending on how conservative they are), because don't forget, most hiring is not done by the faculty at those schools, but by the boards and committees which are usually made up of "the old guard" who help support/promote the Universities. I know its anecdotal, but one professor at a major seminary I was talking to told me that they have a strict policy of only hiring PhD's who did a MDiv at a seminary because they need to "know and have experienced the environment we want to create for our students here". So, I'm not saying its impossible to move "tiers", but you will inevitably close certain doors with your school decisions.

 

At least that's how its been explained to me!

Edited by Café com Leite

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