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Old November 12th, 2017, 12:18 PM   #1

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History Grad Program Acceptance Rates


As some of you may know, I am in the process of applying to Master's Degree programs in History. I have narrowed my selection down to 17 programs that I am in the process of applying to. (If anyone's curious, I'm applying to: Binghamton, Brandeis, N. Illinois, Princeton, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Alabama, Arizona, UC-Davis, UI-Urbana, UNC-Chapel Hill, Oregon, Vanderbilt, WU-St Louis, W. Michigan, Wright State, and Yale. A nice mix of top tiers, moderates, and safety schools.) In the process of researching a couple hundred history graduate programs, I collected tons of information on many of them. One of the key pieces of information that helped me decide where to apply (besides ranking, faculty specialties, funding, etc.) was their acceptance rate.

So, to help out anyone else who is trying to decide where to apply for a Master's or Ph.D. in History at a US college/university, here is the data that I have found through contacting the various graduate schools. This data is current for 2017:

Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York - "Acceptance rates are misleading because so many applicants submit incomplete applications or don't even meet the basic qualifications. Acceptance chances are excellent for those whose GRE Verbal score is in the 74th percentile or better, and whose GPA is 3.61 or higher." ~ department representative

Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts - 16%

Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts - 6%

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York - 14%

Duke University, Durham, North Carolina - 9%

Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia - 10%

Georgetown University, Washington, DC - 29%

Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois - 66%

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois - 11%

Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio - 13%

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey - 11%

Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri - "Acceptance rates are very high for students with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher, and 24 semester hours of credit in history." ~ department representative

Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York - 10%

Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York - still waiting to hear back

Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas - 64%

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama - 40%

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona - Confidential--they do not give out numbers of applicants and acceptance offers (according to department representative)

University of California-Davis, Davis, California - 25%

University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California - 20%

University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois - 19%

University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Urbana, Illinois - 10%

University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland - 55%

University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida - "We do not divulge number of applicants, but I can tell you that we accept 5 students a year, all funded" ~ department representative

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Michigan - 17%

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota - 21%

University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri - still waiting to hear back

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska - Confidential--they do not give out numbers of applicants and acceptance offers (according to department representative)

University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada - 35%

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina - 6%

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia - still waiting to hear back

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin - 9%

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin - "Our acceptance rate is determined by qualifications. Of the qualified students, i.e. having a BA in History with a 3.0 plus GPA in history classes, two good letters, and a good writing sample, and average GRE scores, acceptance is pretty much guaranteed." ~ department representative

University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon - 17%

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee - 7%

Washington University-St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri - still waiting to hear back

Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan - 63%

Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio - 34%

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut - 5%



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I hope this is helpful to others considering applications to graduate schools now or in the future. I will update this with more information if I hear back from any more programs.

Last edited by Hessian Historian; November 12th, 2017 at 12:23 PM.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 07:11 AM   #2

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Just heard back from Washington University in St. Louis. Their application and acceptance numbers are confidential--they do not divulge those figures (according to department representative).
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Old November 17th, 2017, 09:02 AM   #3

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Also just heard back from Syracuse University in New York. Their application and acceptance numbers are also confidential--they do not divulge those figures (according to department representative).
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Old November 21st, 2017, 05:55 AM   #4
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I'm going to be blunt because its the best kind of way to be about this. When it comes to doing post-graduate research especially by thesis, its not whether you like the university that you're applying to its whether you like the potential supervisor you will be working with.

By now you should have drawn up a short list of researchers that you know you like based on your previous undergraduate study. You should have worked out which school they work in, and you should have approached them directly to see whether they take on Masters/PhD students. Having been there and done that, if you don't have a working relationship with your Masters/PhD supervisor you don't have anything. If your supervisor is overrun with work commitments and other potential candidates you don't have anything either.

Nothing else matters... Statistics on whether they accept or not don't really matter either. Your undergraduate grades will speak for themselves or they wont. If you're not an A level student speaking from the sense of the United States your probably wasting your time either way.

Masters by coursework are pretty much a waste of time unless you have no other experience in the field.

Last edited by orestes; November 21st, 2017 at 06:00 AM.
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Old November 21st, 2017, 07:09 PM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by orestes View Post
I'm going to be blunt because its the best kind of way to be about this. When it comes to doing post-graduate research especially by thesis, its not whether you like the university that you're applying to its whether you like the potential supervisor you will be working with.

By now you should have drawn up a short list of researchers that you know you like based on your previous undergraduate study. You should have worked out which school they work in, and you should have approached them directly to see whether they take on Masters/PhD students. Having been there and done that, if you don't have a working relationship with your Masters/PhD supervisor you don't have anything. If your supervisor is overrun with work commitments and other potential candidates you don't have anything either.

Nothing else matters... Statistics on whether they accept or not don't really matter either. Your undergraduate grades will speak for themselves or they wont. If you're not an A level student speaking from the sense of the United States your probably wasting your time either way.

Masters by coursework are pretty much a waste of time unless you have no other experience in the field.
I'm going to be blunt as well. I'm way ahead of ya.

I've spent the past year researching and contacting potential professors at over 100 graduate programs. I have already been having lengthy conversations with the professors you see on the list below. Acceptance rates were just one small data point that helped me get a good mixture of difficult-to-get-into, moderate, and easier-to-get-into schools. My intent by posting the above acceptance rate information is only to make the decision process that little amount easier for anyone else who is trying to pick a handful of programs to apply to out of hundreds.

Click the image to open in full size.

Last edited by Hessian Historian; November 21st, 2017 at 07:12 PM.
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Old Yesterday, 01:25 AM   #6
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One final thing, although you may like their work you're going to have to be working with that one person for up to the next two years. Finding a suitable candidate supervisor is as much of whether they fit with you in terms of their interests as it is about whether their character matches yours. Finally it still remains a matter of whether they actually have time for you. I was just one of four other candidates my supervisor was managing, yet he found enough time for meeting with me for at least one hour each week.

How independently you work will be dependent on your particular needs, but you will want the time available there if you do need it and without doubt there will be times when you do need it. The nature of the beast of a thesis is that it will change, sometimes you wont be sure, and a lot of the time you will need guidance. A good supervisor will be able to provide you with advice on all of the above.

You may find that you meet with a potential supervisor and you neither like their work ethic, their guidance, or their personality. All of these things matter in the potential life-long relationship that you are attempting to create with the supervisor you choose. So its a matter of Cinderella really, trying the shoe on until you find the right one that fits. Just because you like their work does not mean you will like them.

A thesis can be derailed before you even start writing if you can't form a good relationship with your supervisor. Having to find a new supervisor at any point in the process is about the most drastic turn of events that can happen. Make a shorter list of the supervisors that you do actually click with. Don't rely upon other students opinions rely on their body of work which should speak for itself. Other peoples comments are almost always inevitably snarky and even if they aren't they're incredibly easily manipulated.

That list of 20 should be drawn to 5 and then 3 and then 1. You need to be incredibly fussy about your choice. Princeton, Yale or Harvard look good on your resume, and will open up more conversations later in life if your an alumni of those universities but it still doesn't matter if you don't like the potential supervisor there. At the end of the day it doesn't really matter either. In today's world there is far less academic elitism than ever. A potential employer won't look any different at you just because you have an Ivy League degree, that's the truth of the matter. What it will do is make it far easier to get the resources you do need without having to apply for inter-library loans, and it may be slightly easier to get funding as you need. Not that, that those processes are particularly difficult either way... I managed to get through my degree and get resources and my university may well have been in Nantucket. Thanks to the internet that really doesn't matter either.

Don't get me wrong I'd like to go to Harvard, Yale or Princeton one day to see what the fuss is about but it wont end your career if you don't like it or you don't get in. On a personal level though I don't think I'd fit. I don't come from an elite background.

Last edited by orestes; Yesterday at 02:10 AM.
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Old Yesterday, 04:37 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hessian Historian View Post
I'm going to be blunt as well. I'm way ahead of ya.
I tend to agree with you on this. The school does matter, because their access to resources is a big deal. If your university can only afford to send you to the archives in Europe for one term, you likely won't write as good a dissertation as someone who was able to spend two or three years in the archives. Names go a long way, too: everyone wants people from Cambridge or Yale at their conferences and edited volumes. This isn't fair at all, since people at names with less prestige do great work all the time and people in prestigious institutions produce their share of crap, but it's the way the world works.

Keep in mind that the MA is really only there to act as a try-out for the PhD. You won't work that closely with your supervisor on it, and given that there are classes and whatnot, you may end up having to research and write the entire thing in a few months. This degree is functionally a way to test you to see if you're ready for the PhD. A compatible supervisor is more important for the doctorate, but even there, you don't need someone who works right on what you work on. Pushing your supervisor intellectually by working on something a little marginal to their interests can also be highly productive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by orestes View Post
Don't get me wrong I'd like to go to Harvard, Yale or Princeton one day to see what the fuss is about but it wont end your career if you don't like it or you don't get in. On a personal level though I don't think I'd fit. I don't come from an elite background.
Neither do I, and I study at one of those schools. The graduate population is much more diverse in economic background than the undergrad population. Something like 40% of us aren't even American.
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Old Yesterday, 06:22 PM   #8
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The issue of resources will depend upon what your dissertation is about. You wont get a lot of funding regardless when you're trying out for the big leagues. I would caution anyone who is doing their first thesis not to aim for the sky anyway. Chances are if you haven't done a research dissertation before you will fall, and I have seen people going from graduating with honors to a bare pass which to be frank then becomes a question of why did you do that for?

Its awesome to have the motivation to kick goals, its another thing to be humble and realise your limitations, and another to realise that your first thesis is probably going to be utilitarian in nature. In that sense it would also be wise to do something that you can complete iin situ on the basis of what available resources you can put together in your country and what resources you can have sent to you.

In that sense I sometimes lament the lack of access to a research library of one of these elite universities where I could uncover everything there is to know about anything, but I did it anyway. You can ask your library to borrow resources from wherever it is you need them from, you just have to be a bit more patient than others.

As to what doors things open, my university that is practically in Nantucket offered me supervisors with degrees as far flung as being from universities in top 30 ranking universities such as the university of Edinburgh and the university of London. Those elite people also work in Nantucket. Besides which point where a person has studied rarely has a direct causational link to their knowledge and experience.

Last edited by orestes; Yesterday at 06:32 PM.
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