Chicago vs. GW - Decisions, Decisions - The GradCafe Forums
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Chicago vs. GW


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I am weighing a decision between Chicago's MAPSS (with 1/3 funding) and GW's PhD in History (5 years guaranteed funding).

I LOVE Chicago, but I would need to take out loans to finish the Master's. I have about 10K in debt from Undergrad, so that would put me at about 30-40K after the Master's.

My goal is to do a PhD, and I am worried about GW's lack of reputation. While it has some excellent faculty, I want an academic job when I graduate, and while Harvard grads have issues getting jobs, well...

So please weigh in! I really appreciate it!!

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If I were in your position, I would absolutely opt for the PhD. I was also accepted into MAPSS (my dilemma post is actually just before this one), and the only reason I am even considering it is because the other program is a 2-year MA at a State School.

People with a PhD goal usually only attend MAPSS if they did not get into PhD programs and want to improve their qualifications. I have heard mixed reviews about the MAPSS experience as well, to put it softly (try searching for it in the forums). Some people hated their experience at MAPSS and/ or still didn't end up getting into their choice PhD programs. A fully funded PhD offer is GOLDEN right now, no matter what the university name. Worst case, you can transfer to a different PhD program, probably with advanced standing because your qualifications will obviously be improved after taking graduate courses. You will have room to wiggle.

If you don't mind the additional debt, are a fast-paced/persistent/pushy person (you will need that to get face time with profs at MAPSS and bang out your thesis in a timely manner), and are not sure exactly what track you want to take in the Social Sciences, go for MAPSS...but don't expect any guarantees afterward. Remember, their placement stats come from before the economy went down, as well.

If it helps, even I am leaning toward a no-name 2-year MA program rather than the crap shoot that is MAPSS. By the way, the name will probably matter less than your level of achievement, research and publications for potential academic jobs after after GW (what university name is that, by the way?)

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PhD. Don't take on debt for a Masters degree just to go to a PhD program when you're already in at a good one. George Washington may not be Harvard when it comes to name recognition, but it's not Central Northwestern Idaho State Jesus Teachers University either :wink:

I wish I were in your position - I applied to PhDs last year and didn't get in anywhere. That's the direction I'm eventually going to go, but now I have to do a Masters to get in. I'm excited about going to a good Masters program but frustrated that I have to rack up a ton of debt just to get to the PhD :(

Good luck!

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Perhaps you should have posted this in the History section, though I suppose Decisions, Decisions also seems relevant. But I think you'd have more History-specific responses.

But I would definitely do GW. This is coming from a guy who was also "accepted" to Chicago MAPSS with 1/3 tuition. I just don't trust that program, or programs like it. I'm waiting on funding from another MA at a much lower ranked school, but I'd rather sit-out next year than drop over 30,000 on Chicago.

And I'm from Chicago. It's an absolutely wonderful city, and a fantastic university with a beautiful campus. But really: $30k in debt + a Chicago winter < FREE PhD.

You can always try and transfer if you are the department wunderkind at GW.

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