[MAonly] MA Only Pulse Poll Results
chernejl at muohio.edu
Tue Nov 22 08:46:57 CST 2005
That's very good news, and I want to stress that the results I found
very well may be localized. The programs where I saw most of these
tendencies were Indiana U (my alma mater), Iowa, Ohio U, Northwestern,
and Kent State. [3 of the remaining schools in my sample were MA-Only
-- Arkansas, Auburn, and Alabama -- and I did not see any evidence of
these tendencies at Penn State.]
I also know that we have found it difficult to place some of our MA
students in recent years. Since 2003, of the 7 in our Speech
Communication MAs who were serious candidates for PhD programs, only 3
have made it in to programs. From faculty who have been here for a
while, I have learned that 3 of 7 is a low rate for our program, which
did not change substantially over that time period. I know that at
least one of those three is not at one of the student's top choice
schools. 2 of those who did not make it in have taken short term
positions in the hopes of trying again later, and I am interested to see
how that works out.
From what others have already told me, it appears that some programs
(Minnesota and Georgia have been specifically named) remain committed to
bringing in good MA students, which is a good sign. Bob's experience --
far more extensive than mine -- is also positive. I certainly don't
think it's time to panic.
What concerned me most was that the tendencies that I noted all seemed
recent developments, as if they indicated a shift in the zeitgeist.
IU's changes (they dropped the MA thesis, and they increased the number
of students coming in with a BA) were within the last few years. Ohio
U's new program (which only gives the MA to those who fail their mid
program comps) started this year. Similarly, the changes at Iowa,
Northwestern, and Kent State all happened recently. At the same time,
Miami saw an increasing difficulty to place quality students in PhD.
programs. This could all be a coincidence; my concern is that it may
not be. As we sail upon the good favor of the PhD granting
institutions, we should prudently search for any indication of a change
in the weather.
> Thank you for distributing these results. They will be very
> beneficial as we (any of us) go forward with changes and/or
> refinements to our programs. And thanks to all of you for a
> wonderful and productive short course.
> Also, I appreciate your comments regarding PhD programs and
> their propensity to dislike students from MA only programs;
> however,I honestly have not found that to be the case. Over
> the past five years we (Saint Louis University) have been
> able to place every student in our program who has wanted to
> go on for a PHD in one of their top choices.
> We have students from our MA program at:
> Penn State
> South Florida
> Arizona State
> Colorado Boulder
> North Carolina
> Bowling Green
> This year we anticipate students being accepted at Texas
> A&M, Univ of Missouri, and Arizona State.
> So while I think that a number of your points are
> legitimate, I have not seen the discrimination against our
> students. I would like to hear from more of you on this
> issue. Maybe we can determine what it is that some of our
> programs are doing (or not doing)that might help all of us.
> Bob Krizek
>>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
>>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 detail these.
>>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
>>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 instrument.
>>Miami of Ohio
>>J. Emmett Winn wrote:
>>>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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>>MAonly at mail.mnsu.edu
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