Jump to content

Not really sure where to begin looking


Recommended Posts

I know for sure that I want to go to graduate school when I finish my undergrad (spring 2018), however, I'm not really sure where to start. I've been researching a decent amount of schools, but I'm not entirely sure what schools are in my league and which are pipe dreams. 

I'm interested in both MA and PhD programs. My focus would be in Mayan bioarchaeology. So far I've been interested in Texas A&M, Arizona State, and University College London. 

By the time I graduate I'll have two field schools, one domestic and study abroad that actually focuses on Mayan Bioarch. My GPA is currently 3.85 overall and 4.0 in anthropology. I volunteer in two archaeology labs and with my university's museum collections. I have a few professors who I believe would write my letters of recommendation. My biggest concern right now is really the GRE, practice tests that I've been taking are putting my scores between 305 and 310. 

I feel like I've hit a road block and am curious as to if there's schools that I'm completely missing or if these schools are even a possibility for me. Everyone always says to start early, and I'm just hoping I'm on the right path!

Any input or suggestions would be great! Thanks!

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Alynnh said:

I know for sure that I want to go to graduate school when I finish my undergrad (spring 2018), however, I'm not really sure where to start. I've been researching a decent amount of schools, but I'm not entirely sure what schools are in my league and which are pipe dreams. 

I'm interested in both MA and PhD programs. My focus would be in Mayan bioarchaeology. So far I've been interested in Texas A&M, Arizona State, and University College London. 

Ok. So just a couple of things from someone who just went through this process. Don't find someone that is focused on the specific region that you're interested in working with but focus on methodologies and theoretical frameworks that you could possibly use for a thesis/dissertation. For example, in bioarchaeology I am interested in paleopathology and stable isotope analysis (migration, diet, etc.). I wouldn't decide to choose a school that didn't have someone who focused on these specialties. So the first thing you want to do is figure out what in bioarchaeology you want to look at.

Also, I know that ASU is considered one of the top programs in the US for bioarchaeology only because of Jane Buikstra, but I have heard a lot of negative things about the program. Funding is next to impossible to get or is extremely competitive and the atmosphere is extremely uptight most of the time and there is a lot of in house bickering between graduate students. That's not something that you want to worry about during your graduate career. There are A LOT of amazing bioarchaeology programs out there that can give you what you want.

If you want to work in the US and especially if you want to work on sites in Central/South America, you probably don't want to go to graduate school at UCL. I looked into it and I really do wish I would have applied there just to see if I had gotten in, but my interests are centered around European bioarchaeology. But my program is amazing, so I'm happy with the choice I made.

If you want to PM me with your interests, I can give you a list of schools that might match your interests a little closer. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Alynnh said:

My biggest concern right now is really the GRE, practice tests that I've been taking are putting my scores between 305 and 310. 

Forgot to mention this also, your GRE scores really aren't that bad at all. Most anthropology programs don't use the GRE to weigh admissions that much. You usually have to meet a university-wide threshold and that's it. Some universities don't even have a threshold, they just want you to take it and that's it. So don't worry too much about your GRE scores. The rest of your application should be strong enough. Admissions committees weigh your SOP, grades, letters of recommendation, and writing sample (if required) the most. With all of your extracurriculars, you should be good on applications.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a professor that did her MA/PhD in the UK and it was difficult for her to come back to the states so I would keep that in mind. Also, so long as there is an archaeologist and a bioanth with one working in that area, that is fine because they can both advise -- I would also have an outside committee member that does exactly what you are interested in so that they can guide you as well.

My advisor had no one working in the Andes at her uni and got on an excavation and paid her dues that way. But since you have a foot in the door, it should be pretty easy for you to find excavations and people to work with. Plus, with the more research, you'll do for your thesis, you'll begin to recognize the names and institutions that they're are at and could apply to work with them if they have a MA/PhD program.

Then if you want to mention other aspects, be specific about what interests you within that area of study -- i.e. well why warfare? and be explicit because programs are gonna wanna see that you have formulated an idea that is deeper than broad topics within an area. 

I would also suggest looking at Brown Uni and Boston Uni because they have Mayanists. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Hi Alynnh, 

I realize this is a late response, but hopefully it will help someone!

When I graduated with a BA in anthropology I also wanted to go straight into bioarchaeology. Despite this, I found that my research interests were still not developed enough to go into a PhD right away, though it could be different for you! I decided to hone my skill set in human osteology in an MA program before moving onto an archaeology PhD and I am SO glad I did. There is a tremendous amount of growth that happens at the grad school level, even the masters, that I think really prepares you mentally for the trials ahead. It also gives you more flexibility to apply to PhD programs with training that would allow you to be interdisciplinary. 

Feel free to PM me if you want to talk about it more, but it sounds like you're off to a great start! :) Best of luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Hey! I realize this is a bit late, but one of my advisers previously taught at Texas A&M and told me some unfavorable things about the program there. I can ask her questions about it, if you want! ASU is awesome but funding is a bit iffy and highly competitive. Another great program (that ranks higher than ASU) is the University of Arizona, which has a pretty good Mayan bioarchaeologist. Funding here is also a bit iffy and varies between semesters. My friend (who also had iffy GRE scores) had to wait about a semester before receiving a TA-ship. I'm currently an undergrad here who works closely with the archaeology faculty and museum curators, so feel free to ask any questions.

I was also in the same boat with GRE scores (like waaay worse than what you have been getting on your practice tests) and I still got accepted into my top choice so don't lose hope!

Edited by nmpps
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/22/2016 at 11:15 PM, Alynnh said:

My focus would be in Mayan bioarchaeology. So far I've been interested in Texas A&M, Arizona State, and University College London. 

The University of Arizona, Vanderbilt, Tulane, and Brown are all places I would suggest taking a close look at. @bioarch_fan is correct that your main concern should be finding a program that combines (1) a potential advisor who can supervise the specific analytical work you want to do, and (2) potential committee members who are experts in the geographic/culture area you want to work in. While it can be great to have an advisor who does both, it's not always the best fit, and sometimes it can stifle your own creativity because you wind up doing a dissertation project that's very similar to your advisor's own work.

And you really should consider funding very carefully. It can make or break your success as a researcher, and it certainly contributes to the overall sense of support or competition within a department.

I'm a Mayanist and I'm doing my Ph.D. at Tulane, so if you have Maya-specific program questions feel free to ask me.

Link to post
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.