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I'm just curious


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I was having a discussion with a non literature friend of mine who was asking how my thesis work/research was going. I told her about my subject (Milton) and what I was covering, etc. I remember once telling her about my interests in Pop Culture, Anais Nin, William Blake so it was no wonder that she asked what happened. The she asked an interesting question, which I honestly didn't know the answer to. She asked if you get into a Phd program do you have to continue the same research and area of interest as your MA? My obvious reaction was of course, but then I got to thinking and I wasn't entirely sure. So I ask those who know the answer for a fact, if your area of specialty in the MA level is Milton (like me) and you get into a Phd program, can you change to an entirely different area of interest? Would that even work?

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The answer I've always heard is that you're right to a certain extent. Schools bring you in according to you specialty (yours being Early Modern). I've been told they really don't look kindly on those who suddenly decide that they are something else entirely (say, if you became a Victorianist). But when you're getting ready to work on your dissertation, you should be prepared to be flexible. Maybe you can work on Thomas Dekker instead of Milton or someone else in the same specialty.

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I've had different responses to that question. I really like what I'm working on for my Master's thesis and based my Statement of Purpose on continuing this work in the future. The first program I visited was just as excited about my project as I was, and made it very clear to me that I could continue working on it for my dissertation. The other two programs I visited expressed a clear interest in my work, but encouraged me to be open to expanding my interests and my project in the future. They both said to me that in fact if my interests didn't change, and I end up doing exactly the same thing that I've been working on now and that I wrote up in my SOP, that this would be a bad thing - that part of the purpose of doing a PhD is to explore new interests, be curious, learn and discover different things.

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