Jump to content

Applying to multiple areas of research/study


Recommended Posts

I'm considering vastly different programs to apply to. Has anyone else done this? I know that the most important component of a PhD application is "fit." Is it possible to feel a good "fit" for very different types of programs?

Right now, this is what I'm thinking:


PhD in Creative Writing & Gender Studies (interdisciplinary) at UIC

I have an MFA in Fiction currently, and would love to continue writing creatively and explore the link between narrative and gender


PhD in Modern Culture & Media at Brown

I am interested in researching all forms of narrative (television, film, theater, literature, etc.) and the interplay between storytelling & identity. 



I'd like to find a few other programs to apply to, but it seems like there may be types of programs out that that I haven't even considered. Even though I feel really excited about both of these possibilities, I feel a little bit silly applying to such different places with different focuses. Has anyone else applied to very different types of programs? 


Has anyone else applied to multiple PhD programs at the same location as well? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, it is possible to have multiple interests

I have a dual bachelors that I completed simultaneously. One in Japanese Studies, one in Physics. 

I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in physics.

I almost went to graduate school for Japanese studies though, I'm still not sure why I didn't, maybe because I didn't feel my language fluency was as good as some of my peers. 

I dont think it is strange to have more than one strong academic interest, if there is more than one thing that gets you excited I think you are probably just an academic type who loves to learn. As long as once you enter a graduate program you can set your other interests aside to really focus on one for awhile you will be fine. 


In terms of "thinking of other specialties" I wouldn't worry about that...research evolves through a lifetime. One of the people who first theorized that the universe started in big bang scenario was trained as a civil engineer and then went to seminary before moving to physics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, like Cosmojo indicated, having multiple research interests is not strange or peculiar.


I'm a pretty strong proponent of interdisciplinary work, though I was still surprised to find out one of the faculty members I want to conduct research with completed graduate degrees in economics and geography (but teaches in a criminology department).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I did this and I have three funded offers in three different fields, and one waitlist at a top school in one of those fields. If you have interests that fit multiple disciples, apply to multiple disciplines.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I think this is relatively common. When I was investigating PhD programs I looked at programs in social psychology, health psychology, public health, and human development and family studies as well as a couple of other interdisciplinary departments like that.


The program itself isn't as important as whether you can pursue your interests and scholarship at that program. From the two programs you are considering, they both seem to be concerned with issues surrounding the interplay between social identities and narrative/storytelling; they simply have two different disciplines. You'll be approaching the scholarship from different angles - in the UIC program it will be more focused on studying creatively written literature and taking a gender studies angle, whereas the Brown program sounds more media & communications-type focused. So the coursework you take and the orientation of the faculty members in the department is going to be different depending on where you go. But you can answer the same scholarly questions from both programs.


Where the major difference will come in is where you can teach afterwards. For example, if you want to teach creative writing and literature courses in an English department, I'm betting that the PhD in creative writing & gender studies will prepare you better for that than the one in modern culture & media, both in the kinds of coursework you'll have to take AND in the line on your CV (an English department might be reluctant to hire you from that Brown program). Interdisciplinary PhDs are sometimes difficult to place because the perception is that we don't have a good disciplinary grasp, so I would ask a lot of questions about what Brown alumni do after that program and see if their placements line up with what you want to do in the future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.