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Funded MA in slightly different field vs more prestigious partially Funded MA

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The question I am about to ask is relevant to UK schools, but the general theme is applicable I'm sure.

I received an offer for an MA in Modern Literature and Culture at the University of Birmingham (UK), with full tuition covered and a little bit of living expenses.

I received an offer for Comparative and General literature at University of Edinburgh, and I would only have about 1/3 of tuition covered counting the small scholarship I got from an organization here in the States.

I'm far more interested in Comparative Literature than I am in Anglo Modern Literature. I'm not sure if I want to continue on to a PhD afterwards. I would take the funded offer if I were sure I did not want to do a PhD afterwards, but I'm afraid that doing Modern Lit as opposed to comp lit is going to really hurt me. I'm also afraid that if I DON'T pursue academia, going to Birmingham will hurt me because Edinburgh is much more well known and highly regarded in the US.

Literally any input you have would help me, its getting sort of down to the wire here (the UK system is different) and I'm quite stressed! 


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What do you intend to do post-master's if you do not continue on to the PhD? I can't think of many career options outside of academia where the distinction between Modern Lit and Comp Lit would matter in any significant way. 

Hey, thanks for taking the time to respond. 

I'm not sure yet, but I would absolutely agree. Outside of academia, the distinction between the prestige of the two universities concerns me far more than the subject matter in the courses themselves, if that makes sense. 

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I don't know if this is the answer you want to hear, but if you're not considering a future in academia then I don't know if either degree will really help you in any capacity. The prestige between Birmingham and Edinburgh should hardly be a deciding factor if you want to work in the U.S., as neither school has name brand recognition in the States. If you see the masters degree as an opportunity to try out the grad school thing before committing 5-6 years of your life, I would go for the fully funded option.

Ultimately, I don't see Edinburgh having quite the same brand value as, say, Oxbridge (at least in the States) on your average American, so the option that minimizes debt seems wisest.

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I'm not sure you really need brand-name recognition either way.


If you intend to continue in academia, you just need to do good work.  I don't think either of those universities is a degree mill or some tiny dubious college, so I think you could go to either, do good work and parlay that into a great PhD program.  You applied to Birmingham for a reason; there's something about the Modern Lit program that attracted you.  What was it?  Are there excellent professors there?  Can you do comparative literature research there too?  The name of the degree doesn't matter so much as the actual scholarship you do and classes you take, so if you can still study comparative lit to a certain extent at Birmingham I would follow the money.


And outside of academia - prestige only matters in certain fields.  If you wanted to be a consultant or investment banker then yes, the prestige would matter (although in this case neither of those are the types of "target schools" those fields go for).  But other than that, I don't think the prestige will matter that much.  Even if it did, though, would the salary bump Edinburgh would give you be worth the cost of tuition (including interest)?  Probably not.

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