[MAonly] MA Only Pulse Poll Results
chernejl at muohio.edu
Mon Nov 21 17:29:15 CST 2005
Thanks, Emmett, for raising this topic.
I want to start by giving some context for my concern. What I noticed
when researching MA and PhD programs this summer was that there was "an
increasing tendency" to encourage students to enter their programs with
BA degrees. Some schools (such as Ohio University) have essentially
done away with the MA, except to give it to students who fail to pass
their second year qualifying exams (as a consolation prize, if you
will). Others have indicated that they find it more convenient (and
economical) to bring in BA's, give them the specific training they will
need for that PhD program, and then expect those students to remain for
the completion of the PhD. What I noticed was not a simple "dislike"
for students from MA-Only programs, but rather a tendency to ask: if
this is a serious student, why did she or he not simply go to a good PhD
program straight out of the BA granting institution?
In short, there seems to be a tendency to move away from previous
assumptions about the MA-Only program that poses questions for MA-Only
schools, especially if they see PhD prep as their primary mission. I'll
First, the "conventional wisdom" that students are best served by being
at different schools for their MA and PhD (for reasons of breadth and
diversity) seems inoperative. The efficiency issue (students who stay
at the PhD program for both their MA and PhD are believed -- perhaps
inaccurately -- to complete their programs in a more timely manner)
seems to outweigh the value of this kind of diversity and breadth.
Second, PhD programs appear to increasingly consider MA-Only programs as
prinicipally offering terminal degrees to students who (for whatever
reason) are unable to qualify or enter PhD granting programs after they
get their BA.
Third, PhD programs in communication have become increasingly
specialized, making it difficult for students from generalist MA-Only
programs to enter at the MA level and work with/compete with the
students who have been at that institution since their BA.
Fourth, PhD programs are moving away from the MA thesis model (replacing
it with rather developed comprehensive exams), which both increases the
efficiency of getting BA students through the program and means that
they are not as impressed with the MA theses of students from MA-Only
schools. Unfortunately, they seem even less impressed with students who
go to an MA-Only school and do *not* complete a thesis, suggesting that
the thesis work of students from MA-Only schools has simply been devalued.
Fifth, PhD programs appear increasingly interested in having high GRE
scores, and at least some will not waive these requirements even if a
student had performed well at a MA-Only school. I'm under the
impression that the MA-Only school used to be considered an appropriate
transition point/proving ground for students with potential but poor GRE
scores. Such unwavering GRE requirements (often instituted by the
Graduate Schools -- not the individual departments) reduce the ability
of MA-Only schools to perform this function.
I want to stress that these tendencies may be localized to a few
programs. I did not perform anything close to a general survey of the
PhD granting institutions in communication, and only spoke to
representatives at 9 schools. I strongly endorse the idea that we
encourage NCA to at least help support such a survey. I myself am a
critical or productive rhetorician, and do not specialize in such
research (my pulse poll, I believe, demonstrated my inexperience as a
surveyor!), but I would be happy to help construct questions for such an
Miami of Ohio
J. Emmett Winn wrote:
> Dear Jim:
> cc: ALL
> Thanks so much for sending this to us. It is going to be very
> helpful. Also, regardless of how we go forward with our plans--I
> think that Jim's point about top PhD schools not wanting MA-only
> students should be at the top of our list of concerns. Thanks Jim for
> bringing that to our attention.
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