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Konnichiwa2015

A PHD in Education without a Masters

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Hello! Sorry, I know there was a post like this before, but it seems like there was an error with it. My apologies.

I graduated in 2015, with bachelors degrees in linguistics and Japanese. Ever since then I have been teaching English in Japan with the JET program. I'm planning to be here a few more years. Also, I'm hoping to have a first authored publication in an applied linguistics journal soon.

When I was an undergraduate, I always assumed I would get my PhD in linguistics. However, being a teacher has shifted a lot of the questions I'm interested in towards subjects that are typically discussed in education departments. Specifically, I'm interested in international education programs, like the ones at Stanford and NYU.

When I do go to graduate school, I would prefer to go straight into a PhD for financial, time, and career reasons. Some programs, like Stanford, explicitly say that you do not need a Masters degree to apply. Others have different policies. I am told that different fields have different expectations when it comes to getting your Masters before your PhD. I was wondering what the culture is like when it comes to Education.I've heard that a masters is virtually required for PhDs in higher education, but what about international education? Even for programs like Stanford, which do not require a Masters, is it rare for someone to get in without one?

Also, since I didn't study education as an undergraduate, would that hurt my chances?

Thank you for your time!

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If you look at the Stanford website (https://ed.stanford.edu/ice/students/testimonials), they have some profiles or former PhD students and it seems like most of them earned masters prior to enrolling in the PhD programs. That said, it's still possible to get into international education doctorate programs, but you'll be competing against a pool of applicants that likely already have masters degrees. I don't think not studying education as an undergraduate will hurt your chances too much since you have relevant working experience in the field education through JET.

Are you hoping to pursue a career in academia? If so, maybe you should consider a PhD in something else. From researching the bios of professors working in this field, it seems like a lot of them studied and got a doctorate in some other field (e.g. sociology, economics, etc.) and eventually worked their way towards international education.

 

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On 2/22/2017 at 6:45 PM, Konnichiwa2015 said:

Hello! Sorry, I know there was a post like this before, but it seems like there was an error with it. My apologies.

I graduated in 2015, with bachelors degrees in linguistics and Japanese. Ever since then I have been teaching English in Japan with the JET program. I'm planning to be here a few more years. Also, I'm hoping to have a first authored publication in an applied linguistics journal soon.

When I was an undergraduate, I always assumed I would get my PhD in linguistics. However, being a teacher has shifted a lot of the questions I'm interested in towards subjects that are typically discussed in education departments. Specifically, I'm interested in international education programs, like the ones at Stanford and NYU.

When I do go to graduate school, I would prefer to go straight into a PhD for financial, time, and career reasons. Some programs, like Stanford, explicitly say that you do not need a Masters degree to apply. Others have different policies. I am told that different fields have different expectations when it comes to getting your Masters before your PhD. I was wondering what the culture is like when it comes to Education.I've heard that a masters is virtually required for PhDs in higher education, but what about international education? Even for programs like Stanford, which do not require a Masters, is it rare for someone to get in without one?

Also, since I didn't study education as an undergraduate, would that hurt my chances?

Thank you for your time!

I don't know about Stanford, but here at Harvard I don't think I've met any doctoral students who don't have a masters already (usually from Harvard also). I think in the rare case that someone does not have a masters, they have significant research, published work, and analysis experience (aka more than teaching experience). I'm sure there are less competetitive programs than Stanford/HGSE that would accept more PhD students without masters degrees.

I know that Teachers College's international education EdD, for example, allows you to apply your masters credits toward your doctorate.

As for the academia comment above, I disagree somewhat. Most of my professors of education, or at least half (undergrad and grad school) have had EdDs, so academia is still a path. It really depends more on what you do with your work than the type of degree or field.

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I was accepted to HGSE for the PhD program and do not have a master's degree, but I do have three years of research experience in undergrad and all three of my recommendations came from people on my honors thesis committee, so they were familiar with and could articulate my research capabilities. I also have two years of teaching experience in a public school. A friend of mine is at Vanderbilt doing a PhD in international ed and she went straight from undergrad (can't remember how much research experience she had, but I know it was at least one year). There are a ton of factors that go into admissions decisions, but it is absolutely possible to get in without a master's degree, especially if you have demonstrated experience in exhibiting the qualities that will make you a successful doctoral student (research, teaching, writing, etc) and have recommenders who have witnessed those qualities in you. 

I also didn't study education in undergrad (I took a few classes, but didn't major or minor in it). If you can demonstrate why you want to be in education, I don't think that matters. It could actually be helpful--you can see education through a linguistics perspective, for example, whereas someone who studied economics might see things through a different perspective. 

Basically, it's possible. I'd recommend checking out grad profiles of current students in programs you're considering just to see what is typical, but I imagine you'll encounter a mixture of master's and non-master's PhD students (for those that don't require it at least). And you can always try, and if you are not successful, maybe a master's would be the best path to give you a more solid foundation for pursuing a PhD. 

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If I was you - I would probably apply to a mix of master's and PhD programs and see where the chips fall.  My guess is for the super competitive programs like Harvard, Stanford, etc. where there is only 10% acceptance rate (or lower), it is going to be difficult because you'll be competing in a very strong application pool for a limited amount of spots with the majority of stronger candidates having master's degrees + several years of experience beyond the master's.  

You'll really need to stand out somehow which is hard to do. The main stumbling block I see is convincing the committee that you are committed to scholarship in international education especially if you have no research in the area and your professional experience in the area is limited (3 years or less). (From your description, are you on the first year of teaching English in Japan?) 

You'll need to write a very convincing SOP about your research interests and how they align with several of the faculty - and to be honest that might not be enough. Programs at the doctoral level tend to be risk adverse and don't take as many chances on people in other levels (undergrad, master's) especially if they are unsure you will succeed in the program. Therefore, I also would apply to some less competitive doctoral programs where you can still research your topic areas in international education.

Edited by ZeChocMoose

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3 hours ago, ZeChocMoose said:

If I was you - I would probably apply to a mix of master's and PhD programs and see where the chips fall.  My guess is for the super competitive programs like Harvard, Stanford, etc. where there is only 10% acceptance rate (or lower), it is going to be difficult because you'll be competing in a very strong application pool for a limited amount of spots with the majority of stronger candidates having master's degrees + several years of experience beyond the master's.  

You'll really need to stand out somehow which is hard to do. The main stumbling block I see is convincing the committee that you are committed to scholarship in international education especially if you have no research in the area and your professional experience in the area is limited (3 years or less). (From your description, are you on the first year of teaching English in Japan?) 

You'll need to write a very convincing SOP about your research interests and how they align with several of the faculty - and to be honest that might not be enough. Programs at the doctoral level tend to be risk adverse and don't take as many chances on people in other levels (undergrad, master's) especially if they are unsure you will succeed in the program. Therefore, I also would apply to some less competitive doctoral programs where you can still research your topic areas in international education.

ZeChocMoose, thank you for your advice and perspective!

I'm on my second year teaching English, and I plan to continue another 2 or 3 years. Then, I would attempt to apply to some PhD programs. If it helps, for experience, I spent a year working at an after school program during college, and spent my summers working with Upward Bound to teach math classes for students from low income families. I was also a resident assistant, which had some educational elements to it, although it's a harder sell than the other jobs. I also volunteered a bit while I was studying abroad.

I realize you must get this question all the time on these boards, so my apologies, but do you know of any well-funded Masters programs? My undergraduate had a reasonable amount of debt, and I'm able to pay it off, but I feel very strongly about never taking out student loans again. Right now, I am contemplating applying for a MEXT scholarship to get my education Masters in Japan, and there are a few cool international scholarships that I would apply to (understanding the chances are miniscule).

If I can't get into a PhD or a funded Masters, I suppose I'll keep gathering work experience, and try to find some research projects, until I'm competitive.

Anyway, thank you so much for your advice, and time. I really appreciate it. I hope your research goes well!

 

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On 2/28/2017 at 2:08 AM, Konnichiwa2015 said:

ZeChocMoose, thank you for your advice and perspective!

I'm on my second year teaching English, and I plan to continue another 2 or 3 years. Then, I would attempt to apply to some PhD programs. If it helps, for experience, I spent a year working at an after school program during college, and spent my summers working with Upward Bound to teach math classes for students from low income families. I was also a resident assistant, which had some educational elements to it, although it's a harder sell than the other jobs. I also volunteered a bit while I was studying abroad.

I realize you must get this question all the time on these boards, so my apologies, but do you know of any well-funded Masters programs? My undergraduate had a reasonable amount of debt, and I'm able to pay it off, but I feel very strongly about never taking out student loans again. Right now, I am contemplating applying for a MEXT scholarship to get my education Masters in Japan, and there are a few cool international scholarships that I would apply to (understanding the chances are miniscule).

If I can't get into a PhD or a funded Masters, I suppose I'll keep gathering work experience, and try to find some research projects, until I'm competitive.

Anyway, thank you so much for your advice, and time. I really appreciate it. I hope your research goes well!

 

I sent you a PM about a specific program that you can look into.


Other ways to fund yourself for a master's program w/o taking out loans.  It is fairly common in education to work full-time and attend school part-time.  As education is very work experience focused this will have the added bonus of increasing your experience and may lead to better job offers once the master's is finished.  I know some people decide to work for the university they want to go to school for and this gives them tuition remission.  (Check though that your work allows for you to take classes if you go this route.  I know in some offices this is not possible given the work load or travel requirements.)  


In my PM, I also mentioned getting an assistantship which usually provides tuition remission, healthcare, and a stipend in exchange for working 20 hrs per week. Some universities are better than others in term of offering assistantships to their graduate students.  I would look at big public universities - usually they offer assistantships to run student services, residential life, and other offices because it is cheaper than hiring full-time staff.  This is also the most common way how higher ed students get fully funded. 


Lastly - you could work full-time for a couple years and building up a savings so you don't have to take out any loans.  I don't usually recommend self funding for a graduate program but sometimes for master's program this may be the only avenue available to you.  Do not do this for a PhD!  The program should be picking up the costs and providing you an assistantship to get the experience you need to secure a job after you graduate.
 

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On 2/23/2017 at 1:45 AM, Konnichiwa2015 said:

Hello! Sorry, I know there was a post like this before, but it seems like there was an error with it. My apologies.

I graduated in 2015, with bachelors degrees in linguistics and Japanese. Ever since then I have been teaching English in Japan with the JET program. I'm planning to be here a few more years. Also, I'm hoping to have a first authored publication in an applied linguistics journal soon.

When I was an undergraduate, I always assumed I would get my PhD in linguistics. However, being a teacher has shifted a lot of the questions I'm interested in towards subjects that are typically discussed in education departments. Specifically, I'm interested in international education programs, like the ones at Stanford and NYU.

When I do go to graduate school, I would prefer to go straight into a PhD for financial, time, and career reasons. Some programs, like Stanford, explicitly say that you do not need a Masters degree to apply. Others have different policies. I am told that different fields have different expectations when it comes to getting your Masters before your PhD. I was wondering what the culture is like when it comes to Education.I've heard that a masters is virtually required for PhDs in higher education, but what about international education? Even for programs like Stanford, which do not require a Masters, is it rare for someone to get in without one?

Also, since I didn't study education as an undergraduate, would that hurt my chances?

Thank you for your time!

The system that is described by such steps - school, highest school, that is, bachelor, master's program, graduate school and then doctoral studies are known in many countries. Each stage is accompanied by writing a certain scientific work, which can be managed only by reading the essay about autobiographies and other essays from the site samples.edusson.com/autobiography/ and the constant practice of writing papers. Skipping some steps in this list is not possible.

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