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How many (English) PhD programmes should I apply to? Watch

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    I'm just about to start a Masters and I've been looking at some PhD programmes to apply to for 2015 entry. I've obviously been looking at staff research interests, sent some emails etc and not every university is a good fit but I want to apply to a few to increase my chances of getting accepted/ getting funding.

    I was thinking that 4/5 would be a good number. Is this too many/ little? And this may sound silly but because I'm doing my Masters at a new university where the staff don't really know me I'm not sure how to go about the whole references thing. I'll feel bad asking a tutor to write me a reference for 4 different universities or is this a standard amount?

    Advice would be much appreciated!
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    (Original post by wordjunkie)
    I'm just about to start a Masters and I've been looking at some PhD programmes to apply to for 2015 entry. I've obviously been looking at staff research interests, sent some emails etc and not every university is a good fit but I want to apply to a few to increase my chances of getting accepted/ getting funding.

    I was thinking that 4/5 would be a good number. Is this too many/ little? And this may sound silly but because I'm doing my Masters at a new university where the staff don't really know me I'm not sure how to go about the whole references thing. I'll feel bad asking a tutor to write me a reference for 4 different universities or is this a standard amount?

    Advice would be much appreciated!
    Apply to about 5 I'd imagine - as many as there are supervisors you'd be happy to work with. The more places you apply to the greater the odds that one of them will offer you money. I'm personally probably gonna go for 5-6.

    Don't worry about referees; applications aren't until January and you (should) have delivered written work to them by this point, along with plenty of class/supervision interaction. They will have no problem writing 4/5/6 references because in all likelihood they'll write one and then copy and paste.
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    When I was applying for PhDs this year I applied for over 10 I think? Definitely between 10 and 15, across a 6 month period (October to March). Because as rejections came in I just kept applying for more to ensure I got one. I think I ended up with 3-4 offers.


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    Not applying for PHD English but out of interest how scary are the job prospects for you guys? The internet makes it sound bad but I can only find references to the American market and it's not a popular course over there apparently.
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    (Original post by KingStannis)
    Not applying for PHD English but out of interest how scary are the job prospects for you guys? The internet makes it sound bad but I can only find references to the American market and it's not a popular course over there apparently.
    Err, not true at all, if you mean not popular at graduate level? It's one of the most oversubscribed subjects at PhD - insane numbers of applicants (at top programs, in excess of 600 applicants for ten places, or so).

    To answer your question, the academic job market is not great - as it isn't for many humanities and social science subjects. The majority of English PhD holders in the UK will never work in academia. In the U.S., about 40% never get a tenure track job (so actually a bit better than the UK). But a lot depends on individual factors like your supervisor, publications record, department reputation etc.
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    (Original post by madamemerle)
    Err, not true at all, if you mean not popular at graduate level? It's one of the most oversubscribed subjects at PhD - insane numbers of applicants (at top programs, in excess of 600 applicants for ten places, or so).

    To answer your question, the academic job market is not great - as it isn't for many humanities and social science subjects. The majority of English PhD holders in the UK will never work in academia. In the U.S., about 40% never get a tenure track job (so actually a bit better than the UK). But a lot depends on individual factors like your supervisor, publications record, department reputation etc.
    At undergraduate level; less people applying means less teaching spots available due to less demand. At least, that was my reasoning.

    Thanks for the info anyway.
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    (Original post by wordjunkie)
    I'm just about to start a Masters and I've been looking at some PhD programmes to apply to for 2015 entry. I've obviously been looking at staff research interests, sent some emails etc and not every university is a good fit but I want to apply to a few to increase my chances of getting accepted/ getting funding.

    I was thinking that 4/5 would be a good number. Is this too many/ little? And this may sound silly but because I'm doing my Masters at a new university where the staff don't really know me I'm not sure how to go about the whole references thing. I'll feel bad asking a tutor to write me a reference for 4 different universities or is this a standard amount?

    Advice would be much appreciated!
    Apply to the amount of places you find that are a good fit that also allow you to spend enough time on each application to make it top notch and competitive. So, not too many that you lose focus or spread yourself too thin. You want to give yourself the greatest chance of admission and funding, which means finding the right ratio of quantity to quality - good luck!
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    (Original post by KingStannis)
    At undergraduate level; less people applying means less teaching spots available due to less demand. At least, that was my reasoning.

    Thanks for the info anyway.
    Well, you don't "apply" for a subject in the U.S....so, it's a bit different, and while percentages of English majors are decreasing, actual numbers are still increasing, which added to the fact that English study is required of almost all students, no matter the major, means that it's definitely still a massive subject at undergrad in the U.S..

    Permanent teaching positions are decreasing mainly as a result of the casualization of academic labour, not because of student numbers.
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    (Original post by madamemerle)
    Apply to the amount of places you find that are a good fit that also allow you to spend enough time on each application to make it top notch and competitive. So, not too many that you lose focus or spread yourself too thin. You want to give yourself the greatest chance of admission and funding, which means finding the right ratio of quantity to quality - good luck!
    Thanks, I'm thinking of going with 5/6. I wouldn't have the energy to apply to over 10! Think I'm just going to be tactical about it and apply to a couple of "top universities", two mid-range and two lower ranked. I know it's mainly about the supervisor at PhD level rather than the university but I can't shake off the stigma that a better university=better job prospects :/
 
 
 
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