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Decisions 2017

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35 minutes ago, KMFB said:

I think this was touched upon briefly in some of the earlier conversations, but what are thoughts on history vs. areas studies re: marketability?  I’ve been accepted to 4 fully funded PhD programs, 3 history, 1 area studies.  I applied to the area studies program because the POI, while trained as a historian, is formally appointed to the area studies department, and would not be able to serve as a supervisor for a history student. 

The area studies program has some tempting pros to it—Ivy League, stipend is $10k higher per year than next best offer (granted, higher cost of living, but not 10k higher), and a very solid crossover with supervisor (contextual, thematic, and topical). On the con side, 1. area studies rather discipline based, whereas I hope to work in a history department, 2. more rigid coursework than other programs (4 required courses a semester the first year) which eats into independent work, 3. on a similar note, the scope of language requirements would eat into valuable travel research time the first couple of summers (I'll need to pick up three languages in house, of various relevance to my pitched project), and 4. while coursework has flexibility, a good chunk is dedicated to language and literature.

The big question though—is area studies that big of a sinker for marketability to history departments?

History all the way if you wish to get a job as a professor.  Unless it's Yale.  Because... Yale.

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1 hour ago, KMFB said:

I think this was touched upon briefly in some of the earlier conversations, but what are thoughts on history vs. areas studies re: marketability?  I’ve been accepted to 4 fully funded PhD programs, 3 history, 1 area studies.  I applied to the area studies program because the POI, while trained as a historian, is formally appointed to the area studies department, and would not be able to serve as a supervisor for a history student. 

The area studies program has some tempting pros to it—Ivy League, stipend is $10k higher per year than next best offer (granted, higher cost of living, but not 10k higher), and a very solid crossover with supervisor (contextual, thematic, and topical). On the con side, 1. area studies rather discipline based, whereas I hope to work in a history department, 2. more rigid coursework than other programs (4 required courses a semester the first year) which eats into independent work, 3. on a similar note, the scope of language requirements would eat into valuable travel research time the first couple of summers (I'll need to pick up three languages in house, of various relevance to my pitched project), and 4. while coursework has flexibility, a good chunk is dedicated to language and literature.

The big question though—is area studies that big of a sinker for marketability to history departments?

As @TMP said, history is much better than area studies, because in area studies the worry is that you don't have any specific methodology down. The only exception to this is if the area studies department is much higher in rank than the others, which is hard to tell from your post: tier one area studies is probably still worth your time more than tier two anything. 

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12 hours ago, KMFB said:

I think this was touched upon briefly in some of the earlier conversations, but what are thoughts on history vs. areas studies re: marketability?  I’ve been accepted to 4 fully funded PhD programs, 3 history, 1 area studies.  I applied to the area studies program because the POI, while trained as a historian, is formally appointed to the area studies department, and would not be able to serve as a supervisor for a history student. 

The area studies program has some tempting pros to it—Ivy League, stipend is $10k higher per year than next best offer (granted, higher cost of living, but not 10k higher), and a very solid crossover with supervisor (contextual, thematic, and topical). On the con side, 1. area studies rather discipline based, whereas I hope to work in a history department, 2. more rigid coursework than other programs (4 required courses a semester the first year) which eats into independent work, 3. on a similar note, the scope of language requirements would eat into valuable travel research time the first couple of summers (I'll need to pick up three languages in house, of various relevance to my pitched project), and 4. while coursework has flexibility, a good chunk is dedicated to language and literature.

The big question though—is area studies that big of a sinker for marketability to history departments?

I want to give a somewhat different perspective from the previous two posters. I think it depends what "area" you're talking about. It's perhaps true that degrees in things like "American Studies" are going to be harder to turn into history jobs than ones in history. But I think if you work on either East Asia or the Middle East, degrees in things like "East Asian (or Near Eastern) Languages and Civilizations" are actually fairly common for historians. I thankfully didn't end up really having to worry about this myself, despite being based in an EALC department, because my degree is still going to be in "History and East Asian Languages," but I think what I've seen suggests that even if I were getting a PhD in EALC, it would have very little effect on my job prospects. If the school where you'd be in an area studies program is otherwise preferable, and your field is one in which rigorous language training in non-Western languages is a necessity (so not US/Europe/Latin America), I think you shouldn't let the name on the degree stop you.

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On 4/8/2017 at 6:29 PM, angesradieux said:

Just wanted to pop in and thank everyone for the advice. I've finally pulled the trigger and accepted the offer from Vanderbilt. Now I'm kind of in a daze of "did I really just do that?" Here's hoping the relief of having made a decision will set in soon!

@angesradieux glad we could help you rationalize!

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