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Liberty University Masters in History


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Good morning all,

 

     I'm looking at Liberty University to continue on the road to a Masters in History. The program (if I attend) will be online, but it is primarily a residential campus department. I'm also looking at the fact that they offer internships at quite a few places (including D.C.), which is something I would like to exploit. I should be able to complete the Masters in roughly two years (give or take), which would be great because I'll be discharged from the military shortly after that.

 

     My question to all of you, do you feel this program would stand up to scrutiny when compared to SNHU's or ASU's online Master's programs?

 

NOTE: I realize there is a conservative Christian component to this school, but that doesn't bother me as I'm pretty religious (not an creationists). If you have a problem with their policies regarding freedom of religion, or toward LGBTQ, or whatever... I respect that, but please don't respond.  My question is in regards to their History program, and not their ideological and political stance. Thank you all!

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1 hour ago, James D. said:

or whatever... 

Unfortunately, aspiring graduate students in history do not get to determine what is and isn't off limits when talking about the craft of history, where it is learned, or how it is taught.

It is equally unfortunate that over the past sixty years or so, it's become the received wisdom of the profession that contemporaneous ideological and political views are intertwined with, if not inseparable from, the way institutions and individuals practice the craft. 

So, to answer your question, you might benefit from a masters program that challenges your views. When it's time to apply to a doctoral program, you're going to be competing against applicants who have the demonstrated ability to step outside their comfort zones, don't ask questions so they'll only get answers they want to hear, and have the situational awareness not to take a dismissive tone when addressing emotionally charged issues of the time.

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What is your reason for seeking a Masters in History? If you want to go on to do a PhD and have an academic career, then no online program is likely to do you all that much good. If you just want the credential because you're planning to transition into a job that is likely to give a pay bump for having an MA, then it doesn't matter all that much how you get it.

As for Liberty specifically, I just went through their history faculty. I'd say that it's a pretty weak department - basically no one with any training outside of US history and multiple people without PhDs employed as tenure-track professors. It's probably most comparable to a regional state university (so, SNHU might be a decent comparison), but definitely well below a real research university like ASU. How that carries over to an online program at any of the schools in question isn't something I feel qualified to answer.

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1 hour ago, James D. said:

Good morning all,

 

     I'm looking at Liberty University to continue on the road to a Masters in History. The program (if I attend) will be online, but it is primarily a residential campus department. I'm also looking at the fact that they offer internships at quite a few places (including D.C.), which is something I would like to exploit. I should be able to complete the Masters in roughly two years (give or take), which would be great because I'll be discharged from the military shortly after that.

 

     My question to all of you, do you feel this program would stand up to scrutiny when compared to SNHU's or ASU's online Master's programs?

 

NOTE: I realize there is a conservative Christian component to this school, but that doesn't bother me as I'm pretty religious (not an creationists). If you have a problem with their policies regarding freedom of religion, or toward LGBTQ, or whatever... I respect that, but please don't respond.  My question is in regards to their History program, and not their ideological and political stance. Thank you all!

Before you enroll in Liberty, you should check out the professors and look at some of their books (you can probably get them through Interlibrary Loan (ILL) at your university). That will give you an idea of ideologies, etc. I would guess that for Liberty, as it is a super conservative Christian university, it will have conservative professors.I don't believe being a conservative academic, in and of itself, is a problem because I am somewhat conservative and teach texts as they are written. The problem may lie in what the university allows to be taught. As long as you are ok with that, I've heard that Liberty provides a decent Christian education.

The pastor at my church in Colorado had a son who won a scholarship there.

I would also look at accreditation. 

SNHU is known for having a big online university. They hire huge numbers of "at distance instructors."  Look at higheredjobs.com. If you want to get into a PhD program, you need to stay away from online programs that everyone knows is primarily online even if they bill themselves as a "state university." I know nothing about ASU. What about Sam Houston's online History MA?

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@Sigaba Thank you for the response. My note in regards ideological and political stances was in regards to people choosing to voice their stances here, where I'm not particularly interested to entertain a debate... I just wanted to make that point clear before someone spouted off with their personal feelings of the college. Liberty would be a change of pace compared to the current institution I'm at. I've read a textbook that seemingly refers to God, as a Sinai deity, and somehow down the road gave a pass to Muslims, holding them to some reverence (who supposedly worship the same God)... Go figure the author had a name of Arab origin. The textbook I'm reading now blames the Medieval period on Christian dogma and looks pasts the crimes of Muslim raiders who prevented Europe from access to Asia. The author of this text also blames the Papacy for poor maps, and the absence of Ptolemy's maps & research on Christian dogma... it ironically hasn't provided evidence to support this view though. Needless to say my views are withstanding several volleys of fire. My religious ramparts are holding though.

 

@pudewen the eventual goal is to apply to a PhD program. One thing that is troubling me, I'm finding it hard to locate an Online University that offers decent rates, and has some prestige. Norwich has rates that are through the roof, ASU  is the same. 9 HRS cost $10,134... where as Liberty will charge me $275 per credit... When I apply tuition assistance from the military, I'm only paying $25 per credit hour, which is awesome! I went through their dept and I do see cause for more research as well... I do frown upon someone that list an Ed.D. (Candidate), because at a quick glance it could just cause someone to think they are a doctor already... at the same time it seems the pages have not been updated in at least a year, possibly two. It shows information on one users page where they are planning a trip to Israel in 2016... That leads me to believe it's two years dated, so I'll have to call and see specifically.

@cowgirlsdontcry if you speak with your pastor actively, could you (casually) ask him about his son and his experience at the school? Does he feel challenged?

Overall though, the short term goal for me is to acquire a Masters and locate a teaching position in Texas (which I hope to move back to in four years time). This would achieve that without issue I imagine. But my search will continue. I'll find that gem of a school for cheap somewhere :). Thanks everyone!

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1 hour ago, James D. said:

the eventual goal is to apply to a PhD program.

If a Phd in history is truly your goal, then @pudewen is right, given the competition, it's unlikely that any online program will properly prepare you or qualify you for that. There are multiple reasons for this that we could discuss or debate, but it is what it is. If your goal is to get the best education you can from an online program, then any school that grants tenured/tenured-track positions to people without PhDs in their field should be disqualified. I haven't looked myself but it sounds like Liberty falls into that category. If your goal is to get a piece of paper that says MA in History from an online program for the cheapest price, then it sounds like Liberty fits the bill.

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2 hours ago, James D. said:

One thing that is troubling me, I'm finding it hard to locate an Online University that offers decent rates, and has some prestige. Norwich has rates that are through the roof, ASU  is the same. 9 HRS cost $10,134... where as Liberty will charge me $275 per credit... When I apply tuition assistance from the military, I'm only paying $25 per credit hour, which is awesome!

I think I mentioned this on your other post but you may want to look at smaller state universities with online offerings. The first that came to mind (because I know someone that teaches there) was Slippery Rock University, which has a fully online MA in History. (See here) From briefly looking at the info online, it seems they charge about $6000 for 9 credit hours.* An incredibly fast Google search also led me to Western Kentucky University (here) and UMass-Boston (here). UMB also specifically comments on the future PhD application on their website, noting that their program offers good preparation because "Unlike Online History MA programs offered at other universities, all of our online graduate courses are taught by tenure-stream faculty in the History Department. Courses in the Online History MA program follow the same set of requirements and guidelines as our face-to-face graduate courses." That should hold some appeal to you given your interests and plans.

Hope that helps!

*Would you actually be taking 9 credits online per semester while being active duty in the military? I ask because 9 credits is full-time in pretty much all graduate programs so it would essentially be like having two full-time jobs simultaneously. Given your timeline for the PhD, it seems like you could easily take 2-3 years for the MA and still be on track to begin the PhD when you're out of the military.

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I can't really commentate positively or negatively on the quality of Liberty's history program (all that really needs to have been said has been).

I would submit that, if you're looking to get into a good-quality PhD program, a MA from Liberty is not going to help you. Rightfully or wrongfully, degrees from very conservative evangelical institutions (like Liberty or a comparable institution) tend to be looked down upon by faculty at most universities, including fairly moderate confessional ones, such as Notre Dame or Baylor.

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@rising_star Thank you for all the research you've done. I've actually called Slippery Rock and I'm just waiting on the call back. The tuition rates WKU and UMass-Boston are a bit crazy. UMass is $1428 per credit for out of state. That's a $51k education. WKU is $679 per credit. While these are great schools they far exceed anything I could afford... I do thank you though!

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@James D., that's not at all what I saw on the UMass website... The amount you quoted is for on-campus, non-Massachusetts residents. Online students pay $575 per graduate credit hour. You'll want to make sure you're reading these things as carefully as possible so you don't rule out a potential option too quickly. Also, I just want to note that choosing a grad program based solely on the cost isn't the best idea. Given your goals, you should be focused on finding a program which will set you up to pursue what you want in terms of career and future PhD options. Unfortunately that may not be the least expensive program.

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Another data point, if you want it:

Before you invest the effort and money, it's worth doing a bit of research in the particular districts you're interested in to see if they make any distinctions between MA degrees depending on accreditation, online v. in-person, and so forth. Most public systems I'm familiar with do not make these distinctions, but it doesn't hurt to double-check before you enroll.

If your ultimate goal is to apply to a PhD program, an online degree from Liberty is likely to be useless, or worse than useless. I'm on the admissions committee at a slightly-better than average R1, and over the years I've learned to be very, very skeptical of online graduate programs. So much of the intellectual growth in an MA program comes as a result of face-to-face seminar discussion, and that can only be approximated in an online program. I've seen very smart applicants with online degrees (due to life circumstances, deployment, and so forth), and there is something absent from their work that I've concluded is the result of missing out on the give-and-take of discussions with the faculty and on the academic debate that unfolds in seminar settings. I've also begun to suspect that many online graduate degrees are not always using their best faculty members to lead the online classes, and based on my admittedly small sample of graduates, I have some questions about the overall rigor of the online programs I've seen.

In the case of Liberty, those concerns are doubled. I don't hold the politics or worldview against the applicant (some faculty members might, I suppose, though I think only to a small degree.) A greater concern is the quality of the faculty, very few of whom appear to have published significantly and some of whom don't hold the PhD. A recommendation letter from a tenure-line faculty member who doesn't have a doctorate means nothing to me: How can someone accurately gauge an applicant's readiness for doctoral work when they haven't done it themselves?

At best, we're likely to take an applicant with an online degree from Liberty and invite them to join our MA program and to reapply to the PhD program in two years' time. Most of them take this invitation (to put it nicely) very, very badly. At worst, listing an online Liberty MA on your PhD application is like waving a large flag to the admissions committee that reads I do not understand this process very well.

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On 9/27/2017 at 9:55 AM, James D. said:

@Sigaba Thank you for the response. My note in regards ideological and political stances was in regards to people choosing to voice their stances here, where I'm not particularly interested to entertain a debate... I just wanted to make that point clear before someone spouted off with their personal feelings of the college. Liberty would be a change of pace compared to the current institution I'm at. I've read a textbook that seemingly refers to God, as a Sinai deity, and somehow down the road gave a pass to Muslims, holding them to some reverence (who supposedly worship the same God)... Go figure the author had a name of Arab origin. The textbook I'm reading now blames the Medieval period on Christian dogma and looks pasts the crimes of Muslim raiders who prevented Europe from access to Asia. The author of this text also blames the Papacy for poor maps, and the absence of Ptolemy's maps & research on Christian dogma... it ironically hasn't provided evidence to support this view though. Needless to say my views are withstanding several volleys of fire. My religious ramparts are holding though.

I don't think anyone here is worried about YOUR beliefs and whether they'll hold firm throughout a PhD program. We're more reacting to your suitability for graduate work in history. If you dismiss scholars in the same way you've dismissed them here--because an author has an Arabic name--then doing critical historical research might not be a good fit for you. 

And though you might want to avoid the debate over Liberty's politics right now in this forum, you won't be able to escape the question when you apply for a PhD program. I can guarantee you that, as others have pointed out here, many of the professors on an application committee *will* care where you went to school and may indeed be turned off by a degree from a university such as Liberty. Especially if it produces scholars who dismiss wholesale the authors of historical research solely on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, or gender ... or "whatever." 

Edited by Bumblebea
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As somebody from a family of Arab Christians, who have been Christian since the days of the Byzantine empire, I'd like to object to the conflation of "Arab" and "Muslim" that "go figure" implies. Are all people with Arabic names biased in favor of Islam? Surely not. I don't want to take away from the more important point here, which is: don't dismiss authors because of their religion! At the same time, I wanted to note that my heritage exists.

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If pursuing a PhD is your goal, then an online MA is probably not the best option. Most academics treat the online MA as if the institutions offering them are unaccredited and not worth anyone's time.

That you received your MA online shouldn't matter so as long as you produce substantive research. If you go the online MA route, just know that the PhD admissions committee will likely laugh you off the stage. But here's an important point: Give them good reason not to dismiss your application. Academics love to talk about having students from diverse backgrounds, yet they almost always give a pretentious smirk at online degrees. This means that you'll need research experience (go for publication) and that you'll need to secure that intern position you mentioned in the original post.

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I have stated earlier in this thread that public universities all over this country have many different types of online degrees (both undergrad and master's level) and do not differentiate somewhere on their diplomas that the degree was obtained by online classes. My MA was about 1/3 person-to-person and 2/3 online. Because I lived in the area, I was funded as a GTA and received good training. I'm not fond of on-line classes, because I learn better in a person-to-person class. However, I wrote a great deal more in the online classes because of discussion boards. As a result, there is give and take. I am in the first semester of a PhD program and no one has ever questioned the legitimacy of my MA. I contribute as much to seminar discussions as anyone else and I am as widely read (if not more so). I had excellent GRE scores. Education is all about the person and what they are prepared to do. I have attended three universities now, two very large state institutions and one small state institution, two of which are accredited by SACSCG and one by NEASC. I found similarities between the professors at all three universities. Each has various online degrees. JKL you are correct about the pretentious smirks from universities; yet, I find it ironic that while such adcoms are smirking away, their own universities are handing out degrees to online students by the dozen, if not hundreds.

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38 minutes ago, cowgirlsdontcry said:

I am in the first semester of a PhD program and no one has ever questioned the legitimacy of my MA. I contribute as much to seminar discussions as anyone else and I am as widely read (if not more so).

Are you currently in a graduate history program? 

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On 10/3/2017 at 5:02 PM, Sigaba said:

Are you currently in a graduate history program? 

And, to be even more blunt, are you in a top-tier program?

 

@James D. The short answer to your question is "no." The long answer is "fuck no."

Edited by telkanuru
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  • 1 month later...

Why am I logging on to find you cursing at me? I surely don't deserve that for asking a question. Do you treat everyone with such disparaging remarks? I know I haven't, but have I somehow offended you?

 

I asked a question. You answered. I value your input but I am a bit put off that you feel the need to somehow denigrate what knowledge I have or the program I'm in. Also, if you're in a PhD program, why are you talking like some street thug? Use your words friend.

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On 11/14/2017 at 6:14 PM, James D. said:

Why am I logging on to find you cursing at me?

Your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired. To whit, no one cursed at you. There's just cursing in your vicinity.

I understand that it's easy to interpret what I, like others in this thread, am attempting to provide - a realistic and unvarnished assessment of where you are and how it pertains to what you want - as an assault on you. That is nowhere near my intention; it does not seem to be anywhere near anyone else's intention, either. 

But to the main objection, I can only offer the opinion of the inestimable Stephen Fry, formerly of Queen's College, Cambridge: "The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a fucking lunatic."

Edited by telkanuru
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Maybe I can speak a bit more to serving in the military and going to university at the same time. As you know, the military will not willingly spend money on anything and needs to be justified, even the GI bill and especially when it comes to graduate school. My GI bill was reduced because I went to a local university, enrolled in a history and economics program, and worked full-time while attending undergrad. If you are counting on the GI waivers, do not! You need to be frank with yourself and understand that graduate school waivers will be harder to obtain than undergrad waivers. Keeping that in mind, you should also look beyond cost as your first priority. There are a ton of scholarships/grants for active duty servicemembers to supplement their income and GI bill waivers (you really need to look around). Finally, we come to active-duty and education. I would not expect to study full-time and remain an active member of the military. This comes down to the mere hours of duties that you must complete. A graduate program can be unforgiving, especially when you get behind on work and readings. Therefore, I would suggest finishing your contract with the military and finishing undergrad. Only then will you be equipped to handle a graduate program in terms of money, time, and stress.

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19 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired. To whit, no one cursed at you. There's just cursing in your vicinity.

I understand that it's easy to interpret what I, like others in this thread, am attempting to provide - a realistic and unvarnished assessment of where you are and how it pertains to what you want - as an assault on you. That is nowhere near my intention; it does not seem to be anywhere near anyone else's intention, either. 

But to the main objection, I can only offer the opinion of the inestimable Stephen Fry, formerly of Queen's College, Cambridge: "The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a fucking lunatic."

Witty. The first sentence of your quoted post concludes what I interpreted sir. I am by no means a lunatic. I'm in fact overly being nice in an attempt that perhaps, you will assess your attitude. The entire purpose of that post was to denigrate, there was zero productive advice in it. Hey that's fine, you're a jerk. That's perfectly fine, but some advice: You're college days will be numbered, being rude in the workforce will leave you unemployed. So good luck with that attitude. Have a great night, and please-there is no need to respond. I'm not going to argue with you, it's pointless and would leave me less informed.

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