Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
preternateural

US MA in English vs. UK MSt/MPhil

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

 

I have been rejected this application season from all the Ph.D. programs to which I applied, but was accepted to the terminal MA program at UVa (a great option, to be sure). I am considering taking a year off and applying to the MPhil in modern and contemporary lit at Cambridge and to a similar program at Oxford. What are the drawbacks to heading straight to UVa? And, tangentially, how rigid are GPA requirements at the aforementioned schools? I graduated from a top ten school, albeit with a 3.6 overall and 3.77 major GPA. Would it be smarter to wait and then matriculate to programs in the UK? For your information, my field of interest is British modernism.

 

Thanks so much!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An MPhil is a much stronger degree than an MA.

 

Generally MAs in the UK are "taught" degrees, meaning you take courses and write a dissertation at the end, usually in one year, earning the equivalent of about 90 ECTS in countries that use the Bologna system. 

 

An MPhil usually has a much stronger research component and shows greater autonomy. In every case I would take the chance to do the MPhil rather than a terminal MA -- unless you got funding at UV?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An MPhil is a much stronger degree than an MA.

 

Generally MAs in the UK are "taught" degrees, meaning you take courses and write a dissertation at the end, usually in one year, earning the equivalent of about 90 ECTS in countries that use the Bologna system. 

 

An MPhil usually has a much stronger research component and shows greater autonomy. In every case I would take the chance to do the MPhil rather than a terminal MA -- unless you got funding at UV?

A Cambridge MPhil is just the same as an MA elsewhere, it's just called that because of the practice of awarding MAs to Cambridge BAs a certain length of time after matriculation, without any further work. There is the same issue at Oxford, which is why their English MAs are called MSts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An MPhil is a much stronger degree than an MA.

 

 

I think this can be true, but the extent to which it is true depends on the MA program in question. Since we don't have MPhil degrees in the United States (for the most part), there is more variation between our MAs. There are MAs in the United States with strong research components. UVA's English MA makes the thesis optional, but, if you take the thesis option, it's not all that different from Cambridge's MPhil in Modern and Contemporary Lit. Both involve course work and a thesis/dissertation, though you might get more "one-to-one supervision" at Cambridge. I believe Oxford only has an MPhil for Medieval English, which means you'd do the MSt rather than the MPhil.

 

With the thesis component, UVA's English MA takes two full years. The Cambridge MPhil and Oxford MSt both take nine months. Depending on your funding options, it's worth considering the total cost of nine months in Oxford/Cambridge versus two years in Charlottesville. I don't know about the cost of the programs, but the cost of living in Charlottesville is much lower than the cost of living in Oxford. 

 

For what it's worth, I've studied at both UVA (Wahoowa) and Oxford (Catz, to be specific). They are both fantastic universities that value their traditions and history, but the comparison probably ends there. Postgraduate study at Oxford tends to emphasize independence and focused research. Virginia, by contrast, values its liberal arts tradition. You could still focus on your own interests for your thesis, but I think you'd have a broader introduction to the field in your coursework.

 

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The MPhil/Mst from Oxford or Cambridge has always gotten a lot of traction in the Ivy league for PhD admissions. If you have the money (and don't mind parting with it) and you're sold on paying for a master's, then that might be the route to go. Or you could just take another shot at PhD admissions next year. You seem to have the credentials, and a 3.6 GPA is not a kiss of death by any means.

 

I don't know anything about the UVa MA. It could be fabulous; I just don't know anything about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the biggest factor should be cost. No doubt Oxford routinely sends students to top PhD programs, but so does UVA's terminal MA. I'm also a UVA grad (wahoowa!), and I'd say that all the MAs I knew that were interested in PhD programs eventually matriculated to top, competitive PhD programs. I don't know if a distinction needs to be made, though, since most of the MAs I knew did the BA/MA option (that is, getting an MA "added" to your BA during a fifth year).

 

Regardless, both are great choices. My instinct is that you should follow the money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the biggest factor should be cost. No doubt Oxford routinely sends students to top PhD programs, but so does UVA's terminal MA. I'm also a UVA grad (wahoowa!), and I'd say that all the MAs I knew that were interested in PhD programs eventually matriculated to top, competitive PhD programs. I don't know if a distinction needs to be made, though, since most of the MAs I knew did the BA/MA option (that is, getting an MA "added" to your BA during a fifth year).

 

Regardless, both are great choices. My instinct is that you should follow the money.

 

I don't think the UVa terminal MA program is funded, so I'm not sure there's any money to follow. At the end of the day it might be cheaper to go there than overseas, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think the UVa terminal MA program is funded, so I'm not sure there's any money to follow. At the end of the day it might be cheaper to go there than overseas, though.

 

I don't think it is, either. However, my friends have supplemented MA work with part-time jobs (sometimes through the university as athletic dept tutors or writing center tutors, or other odd jobs around Cville), which may be more difficult to find abroad. At the same time, my understanding was that UK master's programs were often only one year, so that might be cheaper in the end.

 

I guess what I should have said was, "Choose the more affordable option, because I don't foresee a huge difference in PhD outcomes based solely on the university name." (Of course, this also depends on the OP's finances, goals, etc. OP, if it's always been your dream to study in the UK and you think you can find better support for British modernism at Oxford, then that's awesome too. :D)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.