Transatlantic degrees mean huge investment

September 29, 1995

The article "Enrol with Uncle Sam" (THES, September 15) was surely useful for anyone contemplating graduate studies in the United States. There was, however, one very important detail missing. While the Graduate Record Exam might get the student into graduate school in both Canada and America, it does not guarantee a place as a doctoral student. It is possible that the student will first be required to do the two-year MA programme before embarking on her/his PhD, depending on both the university and the chosen discipline.

As the average length of time taken to complete a North American PhD is six to seven years, again depending on the discipline, this means a huge investment not only in time but in money. Most North American students in the arts do a four-year BA, as in Britain. They are then eligible for graduate school which means the two-year MA followed by the PhD. By the time the student successfully defends her/his doctoral dissertation s/he has invested at least 12 years in academic studies. This could feasibly mean eight years' study for some British students embarking on a PhD in North America (two years MA, six years PhD).

And as Kate O'Neill quite rightly pointed out, the North Americans use a continuous assessment system. The student, therefore, needs more than a good brain: stamina and tenacity are the first prerequisites for anyone considering graduate school in the better Canadian and American universities. Any arts student seriously considering graduate studies in North America is most welcome to call me for an encouraging and informative chat at 0141 4 2037.

Janette McLeman-Carnie Woodrow Road, Pollockshields, Glasgow

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