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Choosing the MA before the PhD (Comp Lit/Italian)


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Hi everyone,  I'm hoping someone could give me a little perspective on my current situation. 


I've been accepted at Dartmouth for a 1 year Comp Lit MA AND at Georgetown for a 2 year Italian MA. Both were my top picks for their respective fields and both are offering full funding. Ultimately, I plan to go on to get a PhD in Comp Lit, but my main focus within the field will be Italian. 


My question: is one school/program obviously better than the other? 


Dartmouth is obviously an Ivy and probably carries a little more prestige. The program is shorter and therefore would be cheaper (but the workload would be slightly more difficult). My POI hasn't been quick to communicate with me but she is teaching a class I would be very excited to take next year. 

Georgetown is still a great school (#21 to Dartmouth's #11), but I place very little importance in rankings that close together. DC is very expensive city but I would be in Italy for part of the program. My POI and the Grad Coordinator for the program have been very welcoming and helpful so far. My POI there studied comparative lit originally, so she would be able to help prepare me to enter that field later, should I choose GU. 


Thank you for any help you have to offer!

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A two-year program is better preparation for a PhD than a one-year program (except maybe if you would be getting your PhD at the same institution). Having a strong background in a single language sounds like a good thing for comparative lit--I do work in and around that field as part of my English Studies program and professors have consistently appreciated my background in Classics. I find comparativists that don't have a strong home turf to be a little suspect, anyway.


In a lot of ways your MA won't matter very much (the experience of it will, of course, but the name on the piece of paper won't), as it's just a stepping stone to higher places. Pick the one that gives you the best shot of getting into the PhD program you want--which is probably the two-year once, since you'd be starting PhD applications during the first semester of your MA with no real connections with faculty yet. That's just my two cents, though.

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Thank you, Between Fields! That's definitely the clearest advice I've received so far. I'm starting to lean towards the two-year option, as well.

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I agree with Between Fields. I think that the Italian Master sounds more intriguing in terms of providing you with more depths in a particular area. I also think that being in Italy for part of the program will really give you an individual angle and the opportunity to work on your language skills - something that I'm sure will be deeply appreciated once you apply for PhD programs. 

I'm basing this on my own experience, as I have an MA in Visual Anthropology which is a rather specific/"narrow" sub-field but has been very beneficial to me in terms of grad school applications. Most of the POIs I've been talking to were very excited about the possibilities that arise from this particular angle when looking at the topic/geographical area that I will be working in and I feel that it really helped to strengthen my own position (in terms of theoretical/methodological approaches) and made my application very competitive (so yes, I'm going to grad school! Whohooo!).

I'm not saying that Dartmouth wouldn't be an excellent choice - I'm sure the program is amazing and would also open many doors for you. I can just tell you that when I read your post I felt like "yes, the program at Georgetown seems to offer so much [more]" and if Italian literature/culture is something you are passionate about I think going there can give you a very good edge.

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