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UPenn (History) vs LSE (International History) in Ph.D. program Watch

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    I am a graduate student from East Asia. I have studied diplomatic history in a certain university in Asia.

    I have just received offers from the Ph.D programs at UPenn (Department of History) and LSE (Department of International History). Now I need to make a hard choice. I will be able to study fairly new methodologies such as World History at UPenn, and receive 5-year full-funding fellowship, but it will take longer time to achieve Ph.D. degree than LSE. I will not be able to learn new methodologies at LSE, but I will be able to become mature historian by collecting and analyzing a lot of historical documents in London within 3 or 4 years.

    Actually, both are quite famous universities and really attractive to me. However, I do not have any specific knowledge and information regarding such matters because of no experience in the U.S and U.K. I would like to receive advice from you.
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    In the UK PhDs have no taught components, you start doing research right away. You also need to have a firm idea of what you're going to be researching before you start. In the US you will spend around three years taking classes which are often unrelated to your PhD; you will probably have to learn a new language and you will have to do a lot of coursework before you can even begin writing your thesis.

    I'll copy in madamemerle, she has much more experience than I do.
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    Hot damn - congrats on your offers

    Especially UPenn whoa :eek: ivybridge
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    (Original post by Student403)
    Hot damn - congrats on your offers

    Especially UPenn whoa :eek: ivybridge
    It's supposedly much easier to gain admission onto a PHD programme in the US.

    Still, well done pal
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    (Original post by ivybridge)
    It's supposedly much easier to gain admission onto a PHD programme in the US.

    Still, well done pal
    I'd say the same but I think the requirements would be much harder in the first place ^.^
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    (Original post by Student403)
    I'd say the same but I think the requirements would be much harder in the first place ^.^
    Probably. Not to derail the thread but, Student403 are you also feeling like: "come on sixth form just end already and let me go to America "? I totally am. I just want to go now.
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    (Original post by ivybridge)
    Probably. Not to derail the thread but, Student403 are you also feeling like: "come on sixth form just end already and let me go to America "? I totally am. I just want to go now.
    YES - YES I AM

    sorry OP I'll stop talking off topic now and leave :lol:

    I hope you have lots of fun though wherever you end up!
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    (Original post by 11922960A)
    I am a graduate student from East Asia. I have studied diplomatic history in a certain university in Asia.

    I have just received offers from the Ph.D programs at UPenn (Department of History) and LSE (Department of International History). Now I need to make a hard choice. I will be able to study fairly new methodologies such as World History at UPenn, and receive 5-year full-funding fellowship, but it will take longer time to achieve Ph.D. degree than LSE. I will not be able to learn new methodologies at LSE, but I will be able to become mature historian by collecting and analyzing a lot of historical documents in London within 3 or 4 years.

    Actually, both are quite famous universities and really attractive to me. However, I do not have any specific knowledge and information regarding such matters because of no experience in the U.S and U.K. I would like to receive advice from you.
    Assuming you have chosen these places because they are good fits for the work you do; then, the biggest question becomes about what comes later, I think.

    Do you want to return to your home country, or do you want to work in either the US or Britain? Which degree sets you up best for the path you want? And, do you want to work in academia or not? The history job market is DIRE in the US right now, but that is really for a few particularly overpopulated fields (esp. 20th C American history), so it also depends what your subfield is: I read a report recently about academic jobs in history that showed a real shortage of candidates in African and Asian history as compared to other fields, so it could be that the academic job prospects in the US are not that bad depending on what you specialize in. If you do want to work in the US, then having a US PhD is extremely valuable. The US academy tends to look down on UK style 3 year PhD's because they don't contain the years of professional training that the US programs do; with a UK PhD you don't look, on paper, to have the breadth of graduate work, or the kind of teaching experience etc that you get as standard in a US program. That makes US uni's a bit wary about hiring non-US PhDs, though they tend to be swayed by the big names of Oxford and Cambridge, and LSE may just fall into that category. Still, it's much safer to go with the US option if you want to work there, since you'll be building up networks and establishing your presence throughout the PhD, as well as getting to grips with the cultural norms of US academia.

    If you want to work in the UK, then LSE would prepare you well. Though, equally, Penn would not exactly do you badly there. That said, immigration is only getting tougher in the UK, and parlaying your PhD into work will be a tough call, with the climate as it is now, whether you are already there or just applying from outside.

    If you want to return home, then you're probably the best judge here of what program will serve you best: look around at uni's hiring foreign PhD's and see which they favor. Perhaps ask senior faculty for their advice, since they will have knowledge of hiring practices.

    Although I've had my moments of severe doubt, I'm now very happy with my decision to chose the US for my PhD. I feel absolutely confident that I'm a far better scholar than I would have been if I had stayed in the UK and started my thesis work straight away. But, everyone is differently prepared. You may be fully equipped to jump right in with the thesis and be none the worse for it. The US experience is long and can be frustrating; the middle of my program (end of coursework and exams) were particularly tough for me and I wished every day during that time that I had stayed in the UK. Now I'm over that hump, and I feel completely differently...it's hard to give an objective account of the benefits and downsides of each system because even your sense of what those are changes as you go through it.

    One thing I will say about the US, is that it molds you into a US academic: once you are inside the machine it is very hard to get outside it, it's a very different environment than even the UK which in comparison is very collaborative, nimble and intellectually flexible. In the US, academia really is an institution and you are very cut off from the outside world, and from international work. While I like so many things about scholarship here: its depth, its seriousness, its rigour, those things seem to come at the price of flexibility and openness to change and to other ways of doing things; that side of it gets very frustrating.

    I hope I don't seem too down on the US: it's been very good to me, and I'm happy I came, but there are downsides.
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    (Original post by ivybridge)
    It's supposedly much easier to gain admission onto a PHD programme in the US.

    Still, well done pal
    LOL

    PhD programs in popular humanities subjects like History average around a 4% to 8% acceptance rate.
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    Also just wanted to say OP: Philly is a fantastic city, and would be a great place to spend 5+ years!
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    (Original post by madamemerle)
    LOL

    PhD programs in popular humanities subjects like History average around a 4% to 8% acceptance rate.
    I mean, you can laugh all you want - I don't know, I haven't looked into it, this is just what my interviewer for Yale and Stanford told me.

    Try to be less condescending.
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    (Original post by madamemerle)
    Assuming you have chosen these places because they are good fits for the work you do; then, the biggest question becomes about what comes later, I think.

    Do you want to return to your home country, or do you want to work in either the US or Britain? Which degree sets you up best for the path you want? And, do you want to work in academia or not? The history job market is DIRE in the US right now, but that is really for a few particularly overpopulated fields (esp. 20th C American history), so it also depends what your subfield is: I read a report recently about academic jobs in history that showed a real shortage of candidates in African and Asian history as compared to other fields, so it could be that the academic job prospects in the US are not that bad depending on what you specialize in. If you do want to work in the US, then having a US PhD is extremely valuable. The US academy tends to look down on UK style 3 year PhD's because they don't contain the years of professional training that the US programs do; with a UK PhD you don't look, on paper, to have the breadth of graduate work, or the kind of teaching experience etc that you get as standard in a US program. That makes US uni's a bit wary about hiring non-US PhDs, though they tend to be swayed by the big names of Oxford and Cambridge, and LSE may just fall into that category. Still, it's much safer to go with the US option if you want to work there, since you'll be building up networks and establishing your presence throughout the PhD, as well as getting to grips with the cultural norms of US academia.

    If you want to work in the UK, then LSE would prepare you well. Though, equally, Penn would not exactly do you badly there. That said, immigration is only getting tougher in the UK, and parlaying your PhD into work will be a tough call, with the climate as it is now, whether you are already there or just applying from outside.

    If you want to return home, then you're probably the best judge here of what program will serve you best: look around at uni's hiring foreign PhD's and see which they favor. Perhaps ask senior faculty for their advice, since they will have knowledge of hiring practices.

    Although I've had my moments of severe doubt, I'm now very happy with my decision to chose the US for my PhD. I feel absolutely confident that I'm a far better scholar than I would have been if I had stayed in the UK and started my thesis work straight away. But, everyone is differently prepared. You may be fully equipped to jump right in with the thesis and be none the worse for it. The US experience is long and can be frustrating; the middle of my program (end of coursework and exams) were particularly tough for me and I wished every day during that time that I had stayed in the UK. Now I'm over that hump, and I feel completely differently...it's hard to give an objective account of the benefits and downsides of each system because even your sense of what those are changes as you go through it.

    One thing I will say about the US, is that it molds you into a US academic: once you are inside the machine it is very hard to get outside it, it's a very different environment than even the UK which in comparison is very collaborative, nimble and intellectually flexible. In the US, academia really is an institution and you are very cut off from the outside world, and from international work. While I like so many things about scholarship here: its depth, its seriousness, its rigour, those things seem to come at the price of flexibility and openness to change and to other ways of doing things; that side of it gets very frustrating.

    I hope I don't seem too down on the US: it's been very good to me, and I'm happy I came, but there are downsides.

    Thank you very much for your sincere and earnest advice. I suppose that UPenn is the most appropriate place in the U.S, and LSE is the most suitable university in the U.K. in my research area. The problem is, therefore, not so seriously related to purely academic matters. --Which circumstance is interesting to me.I am eager to become a researcher in an academic circle, but in the present time I could not make my mind where I would like to work-- my home country in East Asia is comfortable, but too comfortable -- simply, I would like to challenge in more tough and high-level circumstance in the U.S. or U.K, although no experience in both countries (I know I am too young.).

    Actually, I belonged to the department of law and politics in my home university, where I studied traditional style of diplomatic history in East Asia. Such style would remain in the U.K. university, especially LSE, so I would be able to choose either working in the U.K or returning to my country if I entered LSE. I know that there are less diplomatic historians in the present situation in the U.S., but I would be able to learn socio-cultural history, gender history, or other types of historical studies that would widen my perspective on history and contribute to my research on international and world history relating to diplomacy.

    There are also some disadvantages in both schools. Can I study diplomacy-relating history in today's situation in the U.S? There might be almost no young colleague at all. Or, can I choose to go back to my home country if I entered Penn because of the difference of historical studies? On the other hand, London is said to be difficult to live without sufficient scholarship, and graduate works in the U.K. are not widely read compared to in the U.S.

    In this matter, there are many issues or differences between two schools (or two countries) across various fields, and each issue would not relate to each other. That is why this problem is quite difficult to solve. Anyway, this month I decided to visit both schools directly, and after this trip I will make a final decision. I deeply appreciate for your advice and detailed explanation based on your experience.
 
 
 
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