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lucy says

Applying to two programs at the same school? A no-no?

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So I'm a little torn on applications this year, as I really would like to stay in my current area (So Cal) and am extremely interested in two different programs at two institutions, USC (Creative Writing PhD and Comp. Media and Culture, Track I) and Irvine (Poetry MFA, where I was waitlisted in a previous cycle, but their Culture and Theory program is also so excellent and very suited to my research interests.) 

I realize these programs are different and I enjoy different kinds of writing. My own poetic work is deeply informed by my research interests. My poetic practice thrived most while I was immersed in high-level theory-saturated courses as an undergrad — and I honestly enjoy writing papers as well as poems, reported essays, and other things. If I did an MFA, I would certainly seek out the chance to take classes outside the creative writing dept suited to those interests.

To boot, these programs are all quite competitive, and while I intend to apply to a few programs elsewhere that I'm particularly excited about, I'd frankly prefer not to move unless it's for my *dream school*. 

Is it taboo to apply to two programs from the same school? If not or not necessarily, should I acknowledge that I am doing so in statements? Does it just come off too thirsty? Do I have to choose? 

 

 

 

Edited by lucy says

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I applied to two different programs and the same university this year (I did this at two different universities actually). Now, it's looking like I didn't get into any of those programs, but I have no reason to think that was because I double applied. Depending on the departmental structure of these programs, it's quite possible that there is absolutely no overlap between the admissions committees at the two different programs. One thing to watch out for though, is that some universities only allow you to apply to one program per academic year, in which case what you are proposing is simply not an option due to institutional regulations. Other universities have no such restrictions. So, this is definitely something you should look into. 

One thing that I would suggest is that if there are faculty who are active in both programs that you are interested in, email them and explain your interests and see if there is any input on which program would be a better fit. Perhaps they can give some more specific advice about whether it's wise to apply to both programs or, if not, which program you should apply to.

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I had a professor at ND recommend that I apply to two programs, since it seemed like I could fit into either. I think they understand that you're trying to cast your net wide. 

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In 2013, I applied to two drastically different PhD programs. I was accepted as the top choice candidate for the first, and I was waitlisted for the second but didn't end up getting in. I didn't address it in my statements at all. I had to create a separate application account anyway so the applications were entirely separate. If your two programs are related to the point where there might be professors with dual appointments, then perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to be in contact with your prospective adviser ahead of time and talk over your situation. For the record, it's not unheard of, even for schools that accept only one application, to allow students to select whether or not they wish for their application to be considered for admission to a different program. If both are a good fit for your research interests, it wouldn't incite suspicion at all. In my case it probably did look suspicious because one was in a STEM field and the other in the humanities, but hey, I still got in.

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I have found that this largely depends on the school. Most of the schools I researched when applying seemed perfectly fine with it, but a few sort of indirectly implied that it would be a poor idea. 

On 3/2/2017 at 5:58 AM, Glasperlenspieler said:

One thing that I would suggest is that if there are faculty who are active in both programs that you are interested in, email them and explain your interests and see if there is any input on which program would be a better fit. Perhaps they can give some more specific advice about whether it's wise to apply to both programs or, if not, which program you should apply to.

 

This is probably a good idea. I'm not sure if I'd specifically address my application into two programs in my application materials, but it's probably apt to discuss the possibility with potential PIs. They will likely steer you in the right direction.

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