Grad school in the states, any advice?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Norwegianwood, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. I´m considering to aquire my masters degree somewhere in the US. Either in history or security studies - haven´t decided whether to pursuit an academic or professional career yet.

    I realize it´s kind of strange to ask about this on a bass forum, but I have great faith in my brothers/sisters of groove. So where should I go? :) The only idea I´ve got is Oregon State University, but that´s just because I have some relatives there (they have a private helicopter, so this argument is infact quite persuasive:):bassist::ninja: )

    Why do a European wanna finish his education in the states?
    -Opportunity to learn English properly :spit:
    -High academic standards :help:
    -Weak dollar :hyper:
    -Lots of awesome basses :bassist:

    I´m not filthy rich, nor do I have superb grades, so I guess the very top universities are out of question.
  2. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2001
    Holland, MI
    That's not true at all. If you're going for history, you'd be nuts to pay anything for graduate school. I'm applying to philosophy Ph.D departments in the fall and I'm not even going to consider a place that doesn't give at least a four year grant. Any school worth going to for any humanity and most social sciences is going to pay for a lot of it, and the good ones will pay for it all.
  3. Fontaine


    Apr 27, 2006
    yo dogg i dun no if yaz wants to go to da states to learn proper eng-lash ya dig? dos not sound like a good idea homes, ya heard. homie out

    keepin' it real fo life yo'

    /end gangster fontaine.
  4. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
  5. jomahu


    Dec 15, 2004
    Bos, MA
    well, i'm a sister, so i dunno if you want my input, but
    make sure that you fulfill the academic requirements...or more specifically, that your credentials are recognized here.

    US universities tend to not recognize a lot of degrees from other countries.

    and as far as high academics......uhhhhh.....yeh. come for the basses. :)
  6. Thanks!
    Wow, I always assumed education in the states is crazy expensive. Guess that´s what they teach us here to justify all those taxes:)

    How does these grants work, and what are the requirements (in general, of course) to get them? I will have a bachelor degree from university of Oslo with above average grades, although not straight A´s. And plenty of work experience as a journalist , if that counts. I´ve always assumed that if grants exists they are only granted to geniouses, but I´d be more then happy if you tell me it´s not so.
    Again, thank you for the help.

    I´m looking forward to sounding like a gangster. Anything other than that terrible British (or Norwegian of course) accent will be fine:)
  7. Hehe, sorry about that, will edit the post just for you;)
    At least in my country as long as your degree is from America, it´s a great advantage on the labor market. And speaking perfect English is an enormous asset. So even if the academic standards aren´t good, it will pay off:hyper:.
    But of course that is just my excuse. The basses is what counts.

  8. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2001
    Holland, MI
    Here's an example of what a departmental website says:

    Stanford Philosophy Ph.D:

    "Ph.D students admitted to the department receive, as a general rule, five years and two summers of full support, which includes any outside support (i.e. Mellon, NSF). A University fellowship in combination with five quarters of teaching assistantship (during the second, third and fifth years) pay for tuition and provide a living stipend."

    Here's another, University of Chicago History Ph.D:

    "We offer admission to approximately sixty applicants to the Department of History each year, and all of these offers include some type of University grant. Academic record and scholarly promise are used as criteria for making a grant offer, but need or United States citizenship are not factors. Currently these offers are tuition plus a $19,000 stipend, or a tuition scholarship alone, with the promise of a $19,000 stipend in the third- through fifth-year if good academic progress is made. The fellowships provide a fifth year of funding, based on good academic progress; in the third through fifth year of these fellowships, a portion of the stipend award comprises teaching service for the College. Around twenty to twenty-five students matriculate each year."

    If they think you're smart enough to go there, they're going to pay it all for you. They view all incoming people as the same - smart people who are ready to learn a lot. They don't divide into the "smart people" that got into the department and the "average ones." They wouldn't let you in if they didn't think you were smart.

    Of course, this only applies to good universities. And that's not a knock on the others. But how is one supposed to support oneself while getting a doctorate in history? These universities recognize that difficulty and pay you to come there and just study without distraction.
  9. millahh

    millahh Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2005
    Being a TA (teaching assistant) is the way that alot of people get funding. Alot of places say "guaranteed funding"...usually what this means is that you're going to be funded, but you may have to teach in exchange for that funding. The amoutn you would have to teach depends on the program that you're in and the school that you're at.

    I lucked out...I only had to teach one year, was on a research grant for two years, then on a fellowship for two years.
  10. illidian


    Jul 2, 2004
    Any big state school isn't a bad place to start with your list.

    Applying to one or two higher-end research institutions (aka Stanford, Chicago) as a stretch or reach is worth a try as well.

    School is expensive over here (private schools are hard to find under $30,000 a year for only tuition), but especially with grad school it works out.
  11. Yeah, here you also get paid for the Phd., and I think that´s logical, but I would assume the masters programme was different.

    Being a teaching assistant sounds like a good thing, although the idea of teaching Americans American history sounds somehow frightening to me. Will probably sort out the finances anyhow, tho, because as all Norwegian students I take up a massive loan and worry about the money later:)

    Thanks for nice info, though, now I´ll do some more research (took it? ) into it myself as well....
  12. shooter_mi


    Sep 29, 2005
    When considering a school, pay attention to the kind of work the faculty are doing. Read their cvs and web pages, and when you find people who are doing the sorts of things you're interested in, contact them. Tell them your situation, what you're looking to get out of grad school (intellectually speaking, leave out the helicopter thing). If they've got a funded research project and not enough minds working on it, they'll be interested in bringing someone in whether for an masters or doc.

    The thing is to be specific about what you want to do. You don't need to have a thesis planned out, of course, but be able to explain what your academic interests are, and be able to frame them in a way that benefits the field of study.

    My wife's cruising toward a phd in the sciences and I'm close to an MA in the humanities and we haven't paid for either. But we've both been working hard on the projects our advisors brought us in to make headway on.
  13. Thank you, very nice piece of advice there.

    My main interest is modern history in general, and EU-American relations specifically. My concentration is actually EU history (not European). Will start the googling right away, and consult my professor asap. He´s been working at both Harvard and the Wilson center, and is bound to have some recomendations as well.

    Oh, and I´ll let the helicopter story stay here;)
  14. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Good. I was about to suggest that you get much more focused on what specifically you want to study, and for what purpose(s). Looks like you've already focused it a lot from the first post...

    As you get more clear and precise on your academic plans, use those goals to help you target a manageable number of carefully-screened universities that offer the best programs in your field. Be prepared. You've got a lot to choose from.

    Give some thought to personal and lifestyle factors as well: Do you prefer a large urban or small college town environment? How about region of the country? (Northeast, Midwest, South, Heartland, Southwest, Northwest...) How about climate? How about culture? :meh:

  15. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Keep in mind, assistanceships are more readily available for doctorate candidates than Master's candidates. Moreso, the type of doctorate also has a bearing on which types of students will be offered an assistanceship. For example, someone working towards a Ph.D in psychology probably has a better chance at being offered an assistanceship than someone working towards a Psy.d in psychology. Of course, those are not hard and fast rules, but rather generalities.

    With that said, I will be starting a Master's program in the fall and was offered an assistanceship due to undergraduate achievement. I don't know how many students are offered an assistanceship in this program; the department has, I think, five faculty members, so my educated guess is that each faculty member has his or her own graduate assistant. It's cool to be paid to do some low-level professor-like work and have my tuition waived, but a fringe benefit that I'm looking at is it's a way to pick a faculty member's mind and get a very one-on-one view of the field that I'm going into to.

    As others have been alluding to, the process of choosing a graduate school is a little bit different than that of choosing an undergraduate institution. With undergrad, you are applying more to the school. With grad school, you are applying more to the program and the department. The school's holistic reputation becomes a little less important and the program/department's reputation becomes much more important when it comes to graduate work. Furthermore, different departments within the same university may be looking for different things from students. One department may place high importance on GRE scores, whereas another department doesn't really give a crap about GRE scores and only requests them as a formality. Still, another department may not even require GRE scores if you have a high enough undergraduate GPA (my program asked for Miller's Analogies if one didn't have a certain threshold of a GPA), whereas still another doctorate program may request GRE scores if you don't have a Master's but will waive the GRE requirement if you already hold a Master's.

    I hope this isn't getting all confusing, but it illustrates the one-size-fits-all fallacy than many people hold when they are applying to graduate school. One of the most important things is your personal statement. NEVER...and I repeat...NEVER write a universal personal statement for all of your choices, even if the programs are similar. But the truth of the matter is that most of the programs are going to differ in some significant way. You want to be able to pick out these differences and tailor your personal statements to them. One common mistake that students make is wanting to do the exact opposite of what a program's focus is (e.g., saying they want to work in an applied/professional setting when the program is research-oriented).

    As far as cost - State schools are pretty much within most people's reach, at least in terms of tuition. Since you are coming from out of the country, I don't know how that would affect your aid, but you would at least be offered Stafford loans that would probably more than cover the cost of tuition at a state school. IMO, doing a graduate program at a state school is sometimes a better move than doing a grad program at a private school, because there is going to generally be more money alloted to research in a state school. How much money gets allocated towards research isn't really a big concern for someone completing an undergraduate degree, but it can be a very big deal to a graduate student, especially if they are trying to go into a research-oriented program. Also, your chance of landed one of those sweet assistanceships that we've all been talking about are generally better at a state school than a private school. As far as professional or academic - My philosophy (and this is just my opinion) is that unless you are going into a very strictly applied program (e.g., an MBA), then make sure your program has a thesis option. Even if you plan on working in the private sector in an applied setting, the thesis will always be on your CV if you decide to do doctoral work. With that said, never ignore an opportunity to an internship either. In the way the job market is going right now, those who are welll-rounded and can reinvent themselves are going to be the ones moving forward.

    Sorry, if I'm rambling. :D I remember how overwhelming it was applying to graduate school. I was a commuter while doing my Bachelor's; I showed up for class and then left, so I didn't get a chance to know a lot of my profs on a real personal basis. Luckily, I did get to know a handful well, and they were quite instrumental in the process of applying to graduate school and really understanding the difference between undergrad admissions and grad admissions.
  16. millahh

    millahh Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2005
    I just realized I have a little more to offer on the subject:

    I was a student rep on the grad program committee for a couple of years whilst doing my doctorate, so i saw the process in action (andwas even a part of the decisions). This particular department didn't put a huge emphasis on the GRE subject test (chemistry, in this case), but did want the regular GRE. A good score on either the subject test or the general test wouldn't get you in, but a very low score would be a serious red flag (low = less than 20% percentile). The one standardized test that was given huge weight was the TOEFL. Since everyone has to teach for a couple of years, proficiency is English was considered very important. In some cases, the department would find a reason to call up an applicant, to verify that their English was passable.

    Beyond that, there were two major criteria: Is the applicant likely to succeed in our program, and do their research interests match up well with the department. It's a waste of everyone's time & resources if a person enters the department, but doesn't have an interest that matches up with any of the faculty.

    Don't look at the process as "trying to get in". Look at it as trying to find a good match for your interests. If you get into a program that is a good match for you, your chances of success are much greater. Five years is a long time to spend slaving over something you aren't interested in.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    If you have an interest in Security Studies to serve your country I would sugest contacting your country's representatives to NATO to refine the focus for the best graduate studies to meet your professional ambitions as a first step.
  18. That´s a good advice, Major....will do!
    As for language proficiency...I guess you can tell from my posts here:) I write most of my papers in English, and thanks to the blessed spell check it usually goes down pretty well. So after a year in the states I hope to be fluent like a native speaker. At least almost;)
  19. millahh

    millahh Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2005
    Doesn't sound like you'll have any language problems...and I wouldn't worry about trying to sound like a native speaker. All you need is to be understood by whomever you're talking to.
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