Jump to content

Another "what are my chances" thread :)


Recommended Posts

Hey all,

Hoping you can tell me if my ambitions are realistic. I'm getting my MA Anthropology at SOAS starting this fall, and applying for PhD programs in anthropology with a regional focus on the Middle East for entry in fall 2018. Here are my stats:

* Graduated in 2014 with a BA in Arabic and History from The University of Edinburgh; spent a year abroad in Cairo; wrote two undergraduate theses of 10k words each. I got a 2:1 which is roughly equivalent to a 3.7/4.0 GPA.

* GRE is 158V/152Q/4.0AW but I'm planning to take it again this summer to bump up my scores

* No publications or teaching experience yet

* Letters of recommendation I'm not sure of yet because I'd like to get them from professors in my MA program, but likely one of them will be a relatively strong one from undergrad (from a Middle East studies professor)

The only two PhD programs that I KNOW I want to apply to so far are Columbia and Harvard because of certain faculty members there, and I'll probably also go for NYU, Oxbridge, and a few others. Obviously these schools are insanely competitive - from what I've done so far, do I have a chance? And what can I do in the next six months or so to make my application as strong as possible?

Thanks in advance!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your stats are good and I'm sure doing a Master's will only help strengthen your profile.  I wouldn't worry too much about pubs or teaching experience - having these on your CV isn't necessarily a prereq for doing a PhD, though you should look into presenting your work at some conferences between now and application season.  Bringing your GRE scores up couldn't hurt, but as they currently stand they won't kill your chances.

You should really focus on your fit both with faculty members and departments as a whole.  You want to make sure that you're in the same theoretical ballpark as a potential advisor - for example, if you're a structural functionalist you probably aren't going to be a great fit working with a post-structuralist.  Read articles by potential advisors, contact them to see if they're taking students, and try to find programs with at least two people you can see yourself working with.  

When you have a good handle on this, start working on your personal statement - you'll want to tailor it to each program you're applying to, and make sure that you have some faculty members at your current program read it over and give some feedback.  You should also polish your writing sample, which will probably be one of your undergrad theses, and have your advisor(s) look it over.  Fit is super important in anthropology PhD admissions, and your writing sample and personal statement are probably the two most important documents in your application packet as a result.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that the admissions process is a roll of the dice.  Sociocultural is especially competitive, so keep your head up and remember that a rejection is not a reflection of your value as a scholar or, more importantly, as a human being.  Feel free to PM me if you have any questions as you move forward in the process - I'm finishing up this cycle and starting a PhD program in the Fall so I know how tough it can be.  Best of luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Check on your letter writers to make sure they know your work well. And really try to find out what your POIs are looking for in a grad student. I sometimes found it hard to break through, but if you keep asking they will tell you eventually.

But you can't possibly do worse than I have (not applying to anthro programs now, but did for years since 2010 and didn't have much luck inspiring confidence or selling myself I suppose.)

Edited by mutualist007
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

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use