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Hi all,

I'm in the early stages of this application process. I was unable to do a thesis my senior year of college unfortunately (for family/medical reasons). I did very well on the GRE and had a great GPA, assuming that I can get pretty decent LORs as well. Is it not advisable to apply to PhD programs if I don't have a thesis under my belt already? I'd rather not waste money on applications that will immediately disqualify me for that. I'm reluctant to do an MA as it could potentially put me in debt and I already have a BA in anthro so it wouldn't really change any employment prospects if a PhD never happens.

What do y'all think? 

 

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If you're applying with a BA you don't need to have written a thesis to apply.  Just make sure you have a solid piece of writing from one of your anthro courses in the 10-20 page range to use as a writing sample.  When I applied this past fall my thesis was still in its infancy so I used a conference paper as a writing sample instead and still got several funded PhD offers, so I wouldn't sweat it too much.

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Would you consider applying to funded master's degrees, too? Perhaps in area studies as well as in anthropology? (E.g. American culture or South Asian studies.) Would you be happy digging into your research some more, even if you don't go to a PhD program? There are master's programs that provide TA or FLAS funding. Me, I'm not going to say boo if you don't want a master's—personally, I couldn't find any MAs that were a good fit for me, so I applied with just a BA directly to PhD programs. Because you listed debt and the job market as your reasons not to go, though, I thought I'd throw out the suggestion, given that a funded program in something adjacent to anthropology might develop new skills (language? digital work?) without going into debt. Many people seem to apply for one or two potentially-funded MAs, along with a bunch of PhDs, which has always seemed like a sensible path to me. 

Like I said, maybe that's not something you want to consider. I can't tell from here whether you don't want a master's, and those two reasons are a good shortcut for explaining why not, or whether you would consider a master's except for those reasons. Think how people talk about having kids: "I don't want kids. They're expensive." "Awwww, you can make it work if you budget carefully!" I don't want to be the "Awww" person if your mind is made up, but I mention it in case your objections are more specific than that.

Edited by hats

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If I were you, I would apply to both PhD and Master's programs. My M.A. was fully funded with a stipend, and that's why I went! Not having a thesis in undergrad won't hurt you when applying for programs, but doing a master's program might help develop your research focus more so you have a clear SOP when you apply. 

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