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Medieval Studies at Toronto or reapply next year?


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Hello, Gradcaféers,

 

I am British, have a BA in French and German (focused on pre-modern literature and translation) and an MA in Medieval Studies. I knew during my MA (completed last year) that I wanted to apply to PhD programmes in North America for reasons of funding, programme organisation and academic traditions.

 

Unfortunately, I applied pretty badly (I hadn't discovered Grad Café at this point!): too few places, no real discussion of POIs in SOPs, haphazard discussion of my interests in SOPs (rather than tailored to the department), slightly unpolished WS (though, frankly, I think this was the least of my worries). I have high GRE scores and am fortunate enough to have received very strong LORs from senior faculty at highly ranked institutions.

 

My situation now is that my only offer is from Toronto. I am on the waiting list for Stanford, but I think it's extremely unlikely that I will be taken off, as there is no one in the department (Comp Lit) who is a good fit for my research interests (yes, I should have applied to a different department - tantalisingly, a complete rockstar academic in my field is in French and Italian...sigh).

 

Toronto is an amazing place to do the work I want to do, I have a great supervisor set up, the financial package is significantly better than their standard offering (obviously not great that the TAs are currently striking, but still). I also like Toronto as a city.

 

HOWEVER, I wholeheartedly am in this for the long game and I am concerned that Toronto does not have a reputation to compete with those of the US Ivies (and top Californian schools) when entering the (extremely small and incestuous) job market.

 

Should I accept Toronto's offer and just hope I manage to do well enough there to get a prestigious post-doc, or should I work for another year and go through the application cycle again (this time much better informed about how US applications work)?

 

Thanks!

 

tl;dr Accept Medieval Studies PhD at Toronto or reapply to US Top 20 next year for better job prospects?

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Congrats on your acceptance to Toronto!

 

I am definitely no expert since I am just now finishing my BA and entering into an MA (potentially at Toronto!), but from what I understand the Centre for Medieval Studies still has a very strong reputation in the US. I am not sure if it is the same for literature, but if you look at the medieval history faculty of some top US programs many of them got their PhDs from Toronto, which I take as a good sign. Although having a degree from an Ivy League school in the US certainly helps your chances of landing a job, they are far from the only schools that place people. Personally I feel that Toronto is still prestigious enough to allow you to have good job prospects in the future. 

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American here, I accepted u of t for my masters over UCL. I simply didn't want to apply to any us programs because the reputation of the international schools I was going for already was significant and high. U of T is an incredible institution and is probably comparable to a low ivy, all rankings provide evidence of this, including employer rankings.

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If it helps further, when I got my U of T sweatshirt and wore it around my american campus, the first day I counted how many reactions I got from people. 6 comments from professors, 4 from grad students, 6 from undergrad. Mostly were like "wow are you going there?" or "that's a really good school, right?".

 

It was fun ^__^

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