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Ivy-league MA program


simon
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Should I feel special about getting into an IVY MA program? I applied directly into a top school's MA program and I got accepted, though it seems like this school and other top tier schools in anthropology are handing out MA offers quite readily.... I had the impression that the MA program at top-tier schools are somewhat highly competitive, but now I'm not too sure. I'm questioning if a MA degree in anthropology at an Ivy is even worth it if it is true that they hand them out to everybdoy who seems to want one.

I (hopefully) thought I was a very competitive candidate and many of my professors urged me to apply to Phd programs directly, but I didnt apply to any of them because I wasnt too sure if I wanted to go on the PhD track just yet (I always thought it was kind of unethical to apply to a doctorate program simply as an experiment to see if I would like my field at a graduate level; I would rather someone else who knows they really want it to have it. In fact, a lesser-known school offered me acceptance to their PhD program even though I only applied to their Masters. I rejected their offer immediately).

How should I feel? Does my Ivy Anthro MA carry more weight than a cheaper one I can get at a state/city school?

Anyone else going to get their MA in Anthro at a top school feel the same way I do?

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I'm doing MA at a very mediocre school, so I'll say that at the outset. It's also a funded MA, so I didn't have to make any choices about money. My MA experience helped me a lot, but that was based on very particular and somewhat incidental factors.

I applied to a couple of top PhD programs last year and one of them handed out an invitation to come do an unfunded MA. For me it was kind of pointless since I'm already working towards an MA in anthro. But some people have told me that Ivy League MAs are rarely funded, and just make money for departments.

In all schools, profs give more time to their PhD students than MAs. Not to be categorical, but this is the reality 90% of the time. In a top school in particular, even PhDs compete for time of their supervisor (because faculty at top schools tend to be a lot busier with extra-departmental engagements like talks, fellowships and so on). It is entirely possible that having an MA from a top school will distinguish you from MA students from lower tier schools, because it makes some kind of statement about your learning experience that you've been in a very competitive environment. But ultimately, your application as a whole itself will matter more than the school you're coming from.

So the simple answer is, yes, I'm sure an Ivy League MA carries more weight than a cheaper one. But you should also ask yourself if it is worth it for you to do that. I think for many people, applying directly to a PhD program works really well. You're less burnt out, and there is a learning curve you face no matter what. The advice your profs give you are worth a lot, and if they think something is a good idea for you, they presumably take your personal circumstances into account. I would definitely put stock in that.

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Thanks for your reply! I want to add something else, though I hope I dont offend anyone here. I'm particularly concerned about how the Ivy schools tend to offer many (if not all)their PhD rejects entry to their Masters program as a consolation prize. Does EVERY PhD reject get such an offer? If so, then there would technically be as many MA offers as there are PhD rejections (probably around 200+) which I cant help but think lowers the standards of the degree because entry wouldnt be competitive at all. Am i right?

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Thanks for your reply! I want to add something else, though I hope I dont offend anyone here. I'm particularly concerned about how the Ivy schools tend to offer many (if not all)their PhD rejects entry to their Masters program as a consolation prize. Does EVERY PhD reject get such an offer? If so, then there would technically be as many MA offers as there are PhD rejections (probably around 200+) which I cant help but think lowers the standards of the degree because entry wouldnt be competitive at all. Am i right?

I don't think every PhD applicant they reject gets an offer to do an MA. I think technically that would be impossible, and yeah, totally lowers academic standards. I think they do that as a way of recruiting students that they think are not quite prepared to enter their PhD program. I don't know too much about this though.

I think some big schools might also recruit students to do newly established, interdisciplinary MA programs, both to make money, and also help get a good name for that program by getting students that they think are qualified. Ultimately even public universities basically run themselves like businesses.

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