Turn on thread page Beta
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    I'm just completed a M.Phil in Screen Media and Cultures at the University of Cambridge. Got a final mark of 71 which is a 'High Pass' but I can't seem to find any indication of how this would compare with an MA grade. I got a 1st in my undergrad (in Film Studies) at Queen Mary UL.

    I'm really keen to apply for PhDs in the US - particularly in California, but not exclusively - and like most people, would need full funding to even consider it. I'm aiming to apply by December 2015, ready to start the following September.

    I just have literally no idea how to go about it, and if (with the grades I got) I would even have a chance of pulling it off, particularly the funding aspect.

    So I guess my questions are: Is there anyone here in a similar situation, or who has actually already achieved a place and funding in the US in a similar subject? What sorts of things do I need to be doing to improve my chances? What is the likelihood of getting funding and how do you go about getting it?

    Literally any advice would be incredibly helpful as I'm kind of lost.
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Rumbird)
    I'm just completed a M.Phil in Screen Media and Cultures at the University of Cambridge. Got a final mark of 71 which is a 'High Pass' but I can't seem to find any indication of how this would compare with an MA grade. I got a 1st in my undergrad (in Film Studies) at Queen Mary UL.

    I'm really keen to apply for PhDs in the US - particularly in California, but not exclusively - and like most people, would need full funding to even consider it. I'm aiming to apply by December 2015, ready to start the following September.

    I just have literally no idea how to go about it, and if (with the grades I got) I would even have a chance of pulling it off, particularly the funding aspect.

    So I guess my questions are: Is there anyone here in a similar situation, or who has actually already achieved a place and funding in the US in a similar subject? What sorts of things do I need to be doing to improve my chances? What is the likelihood of getting funding and how do you go about getting it?

    Literally any advice would be incredibly helpful as I'm kind of lost.
    It would be a bit unusual not to get full funding in a Film Studies PhD in the U.S., however the two unis you mention are both public schools and in California there are budget issues that make funding for international students tricky and so its very difficult to get accepted as an international student in the humanities in the UC system. So, I would definitely consider other places (Iowa, Yale, USC, Chicago, NYU being known for very strong Film programs).

    Your marks are really strong and should definitely put you in contention at pretty much anywhere you apply. However, marks matter a lot less than the personal statement and writing sample, which are the clincher (as well as the recommendation letters), at least that seems to be the generally agreed upon order of importance in my field (English/ American Studies).

    You'll need to take the GRE, which is a standardized Math/Verbal reasoning test; as a humanities student, it's more important to score very highly on the verbal section usually (but again, my field may have slightly different expectations than yours).

    Basically, the most important thing is to craft a really convincing personal statement that illustrates facility and familiarity with the conversations happening in your field and is able to outline a potential area of research and show how the work you've done so far has prepared you to do it, and how fits in to, builds on etc current critical work. But, this shouldn't be a stiff, detailed research proposal, it also needs to give a strong sense of your personality and to convince the adcom that you'll be a valuable member of the department. It's a very weird genre, and not really like anything you have to write in the UK, so I found it the hardest part of the application.

    If you wanted to talk specifics, feel free to PM me. I went through the process 4 years ago, and was successful; but knowing the system as I do now, I would do a lot differently if applying now.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Thank you so much for your kind and helpful response. I appreciate it tremendously. I'm pretty new to The Student Room so I'm not entirely sure how to PM you - I hope you don't mind me replying this way. I would love to hear your advice.

    I had a feeling that those particular schools may be a long-shot as they are public, but I wasn't entirely sure. I'm very glad to hear that USC might be a good option though. I also considered NYU and Yale but assumed they would be far more competitive. Knowing this may not be the case, I will certainly look into it further.

    In regards to the GRE - how would you recommend preparing for this? I have taken a look at a couple of sample questions and feel I could get through the verbal reasoning section without too much trouble but would be nervous about taking a math exam at this point, having not looked at anything similar since I was about 16. Do people usually study, or even receive tutoring for the GRE?

    I'm very unclear on how funding is awarded. It certainly seems to be specific to each school, and as far as I can tell would require separate applications for each grant or scholarship. Is that about right? Did you find this very complicated - is it commonly possible to receive advice from each department about funding options? I am sort of hoping that there is a more general funding application but I'm sure this is overly optimistic.

    I have seen it mentioned that the personal statement element of US school applications are very different to the British equivalent. I am struggling to find examples, although perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place? Your guidance on the sort of thing that needs to be included is incredibly helpful. If you have any suggestions for where I might find some samples that would be wonderful. I'd be interested in any further advice you might be able to give in this area. My specific research interests are not really conventional to traditional Film Studies ( I am leaning further and further into TV, Internet and American Studies with every paper) - is this something that you think might work in my favour, or against me?

    I would love to hear how you feel the process has changed, and how you would do things differently now. I am finding it so hard to get a grip on the US grad-school scene and how it works, so I can't thank you enough for your help.

    Finally, what would you say my first steps should be - where did you begin? Also, (I'm so sorry for all of these questions) do you think trying to get some work published is worthwhile before applying?

    Thank you.
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Rumbird)
    Thank you so much for your kind and helpful response. I appreciate it tremendously. I'm pretty new to The Student Room so I'm not entirely sure how to PM you - I hope you don't mind me replying this way. I would love to hear your advice.

    I had a feeling that those particular schools may be a long-shot as they are public, but I wasn't entirely sure. I'm very glad to hear that USC might be a good option though. I also considered NYU and Yale but assumed they would be far more competitive. Knowing this may not be the case, I will certainly look into it further.

    In regards to the GRE - how would you recommend preparing for this? I have taken a look at a couple of sample questions and feel I could get through the verbal reasoning section without too much trouble but would be nervous about taking a math exam at this point, having not looked at anything similar since I was about 16. Do people usually study, or even receive tutoring for the GRE?

    I'm very unclear on how funding is awarded. It certainly seems to be specific to each school, and as far as I can tell would require separate applications for each grant or scholarship. Is that about right? Did you find this very complicated - is it commonly possible to receive advice from each department about funding options? I am sort of hoping that there is a more general funding application but I'm sure this is overly optimistic.

    I have seen it mentioned that the personal statement element of US school applications are very different to the British equivalent. I am struggling to find examples, although perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place? Your guidance on the sort of thing that needs to be included is incredibly helpful. If you have any suggestions for where I might find some samples that would be wonderful. I'd be interested in any further advice you might be able to give in this area. My specific research interests are not really conventional to traditional Film Studies ( I am leaning further and further into TV, Internet and American Studies with every paper) - is this something that you think might work in my favour, or against me?

    I would love to hear how you feel the process has changed, and how you would do things differently now. I am finding it so hard to get a grip on the US grad-school scene and how it works, so I can't thank you enough for your help.

    Finally, what would you say my first steps should be - where did you begin? Also, (I'm so sorry for all of these questions) do you think trying to get some work published is worthwhile before applying?

    Thank you.
    No problem!

    With the GRE, the two things I did were: buy a practice book (I think I got Cracking the GRE from Princeton Review), which has a few tests; and download the powerprep software from the ETS website (which is free). Powerprep was the most useful since its most similar to the format in which you sit the actual test. I didn't prepare much: maybe for two weeks before the exam...that's sufficient in my book. It's not the content that poses a problem, even with the maths I found, but being able to get to the correct answer quickly enough within the computerized format. With the math, I didn't have the quick ways of working things out at my fingertips and so I took a long time on each question and never got into the higher level questions that move you up the points system (if you get a certain number of questions correct at a certain level then you move up to the next level of question and thus make available the next level of scores). So, practicing on powerprep is good, as is memorizing formulas and quick-solving strategies like process of elimination etc. Take a practice test and see where your scores stand so that you know whether you even need to do much work. If you live in/near London Kaplan has a free GRE practice test session, where you can go and sit the paper version and get scored for it, which I found useful to do as a baseline.

    Funding: I don't know specifically about film studies, but I don't imagine it's drastically different than English/Comp Lit/Am St. Every single place that I applied DID NOT require a separate application for funding. There were a number of public schools that were cagey about what was or would be available: this is because these schools do not know their budgets year to year and cannot guarantee amounts of funding. However, everyone I know with offers from public schools received multi-year packages, it's just that numbers cannot be absolutely specified. The only time I know of when you would have to apply separately is if you want to be considered for a school-wide special fellowship or scholarship, however international students very rarely qualify for these (they're often based around ethnicity or status as a first gen student or something like that).

    Sometimes public schools can't give funding offers with admission offers because they don't know their budget until after admissions decisions. In that case, they'll admit you and then let you know as soon as they can what your funding offer will be (I was in a similar situation to this with one of my schools and it went right down to the wire of April15th - decision day - as the department went to a budget committee to ask for extra funding, it was nervewracking but it's astonishing what strangers will do to be able to give you a good offer!).

    So, basically, in terms of applying for funding, all I did was submit the admissions applications to each school, with the appropriate boxes ticked to be 'considered for all available funding'. The admin at each department will be more than happy to clarify the process for you if you email them, though, just in case it is different for film programs.

    Personal Statements: I don't know if this group still exists but there used to be a LiveJournal group for each year of apps and some people there were kind enough to share their statements with me and we would share and comment on each other's. That was massively helpful, as there is an absolute dearth of examples on the internet. You might also try the gradcafe (have a nose there anyway!) - though there aren't often many film people around those parts. I think it's important if you're looking at samples to see some successful examples from your own discipline as they will be the best template to use (and statement conventions vary quite a bit from discipline to discipline).

    Speaking of disciplines: it sounds like with your interests that you could do work in a variety of departments so you may want to broaden your scope and consider other inter or multidisciplinary departments. Minnesota's Comp Lit and Cultural Studies came to mind, as did Emory's ILA, Stanford's Modern Literature and Culture, Ohio State's Comparative Cultural Studies as well as American Studies programs and maybe communications and visual culture programs too (though unfortunately some of the best in these categories are in California public schools too: UCSD comms, and UCI visual culture). Just a thought...
    Work on film in the U.S. tends to take place as much in other humanities departments as it does in specific film departments (English, Comp Lit, Am St, Romance languages etc); I study film, for instance, in an English dep't - though my project is kind of an American Studies type project which focuses on cultural forms (not only film but fiction and visual culture too) within a specific historical moment.
    With those interests you would maybe have a harder time at traditional aesthetically minded schools (e.g. Chicago and maybe Yale), but if the places you're applying have research/teaching strengths in those areas (which they should for you to be applying there after all!) then you should be fine.

    Oh: a really helpful thing can be asking the admin at schools you're especially interested in to put you in touch with students in the program(or you can just email them directly).

    Edit to add: I just remembered Brown's Modern Culture and Media program which is super cool and might be ideal for the sort of work you're interested in!
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    Oh and being published doesn't really factor in to admissions decisions. It might give you a tiny edge, but remember that US students often come straight from BA to PhD so people are very rarely published before getting to grad school. Often highly ranked programs discourage publishing until well into the PhD too, so I don't think it would be worth the time and effort to prepare something for publication when you could spend that time on getting your writing sample and personal statement in perfect shape.
 
 
 

University open days

  • University of Bradford
    All faculties Undergraduate
    Wed, 21 Nov '18
  • Buckinghamshire New University
    All Faculties Postgraduate
    Wed, 21 Nov '18
  • Heriot-Watt University
    All Schools Postgraduate
    Wed, 21 Nov '18
Poll
Black Friday: Yay or Nay?
Useful resources

Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.