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Timeline Help: 1-year MA (in the UK/EU) and PhD applications in the U.S.


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I'm considering applying for masters programs in the UK/EU but because their programs are often only 1 year long, this means that 2-3 months into their programs (ie. in December of a 1-year program that begins in October) is when I'd need my professors to write LoRs for me. But at 2 months in, I doubt they'd be able to write strong LoRs for me.


So, it seems that, for a 1-year MA, I'd end up having to wait for the following year to apply for PhD programs.


Any thoughts or ideas about this? Is there anyone who has gotten a MA from the UK or EU and who has gone on to get a PhD? What did your timeline look like, did you work for a year after your MA, etc.



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I didn't do my MA in the UK, but I did the one year MA in sociology at Columbia and graduated last May. I didn't feel like I'd get very strong letters if I applied during my MA so I waited until this year, and now I have what I think are strong letters and a solid thesis as a writing sample. I've been working this year and found the 9-5 was much more conducive to writing PhD applications than my MA schedule would have been.

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It would probably be really hard to get good rec letters a few months after arriving. For some UK programs, you'd be asking for strong letters a month after meeting them! So yea, in that sense, taking a year off after the MA would probably be necessary unless you want to also do your PhD in the UK/EU.

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Hi PhillyCJ - I was in a similar position to the one you describe, although I was a UK (home) student on a 1-year MA course. I think that if you are looking for something more substantial than a vague good-will endorsement letter then I think you might struggle to put your UK MA to good use by rushing through an application for PhD entry the following year. Typically, and certainly on the course I've just finished, you won't even have submitted any assessed essays by mid-December, let alone have had the opportunity to exhibit your independent research skills to a member of faculty. Also, UK MA's are pretty independent in general. Depending on the course, and as such only generally speaking, your contact time with academic staff will be sparse - particularly during the first term.


I went into my MA with a PhD in mind, but it didn't occur to me that I might want to venture an application to American schools until my final grades surpassed my expectations and I realised I could possibly be in with a shout. With that in mind, since graduating in January, I have been steeling myself to face down the GRE (which I hadn't even heard of until a few months ago!) and carefully plot my applications out. Meantime, I'm hoping to find some work that will help me boost my research experience and through which I might also gain a third LOR. We'll see! But I definitely needed this year after my MA completion to leap all the hurdles involved in applying to US grad schools. Daunting stuff!  


Not sure if that's helpful, but happy to answer any UK-MA questions you may have...

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