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English undergrad considering Comm. grad studies

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Hello everyone. This is my first post on this board.

I studied English literature in undergrad and did some undergraduate research and conference presenting in both literature and rhetoric/composition. As I was searching for English graduate programs, I felt that they might not be as a great a fit for me as I had hoped. While I love research and analyzing literature, my focus in analysis is almost always on specific language use and argument strategies, and I usually enjoy using new media texts more than literature. For example, one project I did focused on improving PR for my campus writing center. Another project was a literary reading of a video game with a central argument of video games as art.

As I am trying to articulate future research projects, I continue to return to an interest in studying political rhetoric, political literature, propaganda, and grassroots political movements. For example, one project I am interested in pursuing is studying the use of irony and memetic inside jokes as propaganda to demonize the other and create ideologically homogeneous in-groups on internet forums like Reddit's /r/The_Donald, /r/Conspiracy, or /r/Atheism. These issues do not fit as neatly into my favorite English departments as I would like, and I have been told by many people to consider Communications programs instead. As an English undergraduate, I never took Comm. coursework, so I am wondering if anyone has any advice on how well English undergrad studies transfers to Comm. graduate work. 

My career aspirations have always included a professorship, which is possible through both English and Comm. However, I am also interested in working in journalism, publishing, radio, marketing, policy research, and political campaigning. Am I correct in feeling that a Comm. degree would be better suited for following these paths than would be an English degree? In addition to career prospects, the more I look into dissertations coming out of my preferred programs, the more I find myself repelled from the English work being done and attracted to the Comm. work being done. From my limited experience so far, I am enjoying that Comm. engages social sciences methodologies and interacts with more tangible, real world phenomena and texts. English studies seem too insular and detached from the world, focusing only on a handful of themes in narrow ranges of literary works.


Tl:dr: How well do English undergrad studies transfer to Comm. grad studies? Is it advisable to complete an M.A. in Comm. before applying to PhD programs out of an English undergrad? Are the non-academic job prospects better for Comm. than for English, or can they generally do the same things? While I do have extensive undergrad experience researching and presenting at English conferences, will I still have a hard time being accepted to a Comm. M.A. program with no experience in Comm. studies?


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Hi there,

sounds like interesting research that is for sure needed in these times. 

I do know people who transferred from English to Comm. Depending on the program you choose, you should be aware that we do have a social science side to comm (which is not unimportant to your research because understanding how information flows through cascades and networks could equip you with background knowledge directly related to researching memes). What that means is that depending on the program you will need to take some stats and mass comm classes which will likely be new to you. Imo, everyone can do the basic stats required for most comm programs (let's be real, I could teach someone who just knows how a basic line equation works pretty much everything they need to know about basic inferential stats) so I would not be worried about your ability but rather whether you'd want to do that.

I also think that many rhetoric professors did not necessarily study comm so you might not even work with comm-comm people. As usual, the first step I'd suggest you to do is identify programs that have the research overlap. Email administrators and potential faculty and say: this is me. This is what I do, this is what I know. Is this something we could make work? What would I need to bring to the table if I'm missing something?

Good luck!

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My most recent MA is Eng Lit and I started out looking at rhet comp programs and really didn't feel all too excited and found Rhet programs in Comm Studies much more interesting.  The great thing about Comm is that it's much more open to outsiders than English. I applied to 7 programs and had multiple acceptances. Several of the people at the program I ended up choosing are English lit ppl (even some of the professors). Feel free to message me if you have questions since I can't go into much detail right now.

Good luck!

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