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Transferring Graduate Schools?

doorsfan4371doorsfan4371 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
edited September 30 in Graduate School

I graduated in April from a small liberal arts college in Pittsburgh with a B.A. in criminology. I am now at John Jay College in NYC pursuing the criminal justice M.A. with a criminology concentration. When I was applying to grad schools, I went for three PhD. programs in sociology (my interests shifted towards sociology in my senior year) and two master's in criminal justice. I had applied to PhDs because, for most of the sociology programs I saw, you were technically applying for the doctoral program but you would earn your master's along the way (in other words, I didn't come across many standalone sociology master's programs). I applied to and got rejected from UW Madison, UC Santa Cruz, and SUNY Albany. I got accepted to both of the criminal justice master's programs I applied to, John Jay College and Widener University. Because I still enjoy studying criminology, and I knew that John Jay is a good school, I decided to go there. I commute by train to NYC from NJ - the whole commute takes almost an hour and a half one way on a good day. I'm considering transferring partially because of the long and expensive commute, but mostly because I see now that I settled for a criminal justice degree when I really want a sociology one. I would like to transfer to Rutgers University - it's much closer to home and their program sounds great. However, like the other sociology schools I applied to, I would be applying for the doctoral program and would get the master's along the way. I'm worried that I will just get rejected again and will be stuck at John Jay. I gained more research experience since applying to grad schools the first time late last year which could help, but I'm scared it won't be enough. Is transferring to another graduate program doable? If you've done it, I'd love to hear about your experience.

Thanks in advance!

Replies to: Transferring Graduate Schools?

  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    In general, "transferring" graduate schools isn't really a transfer. It's not really like undergrad, in which you can bring most of your credits in and just start from where you left off. Most graduate programs take around a semester of credit as transfer credits - there are some that may take up to a year, but given the program's requirements and stuff, it may not reduce your time to degree by that much.

    Particularly because you will be going from a master's program to a PhD program, and because you will essentially be switching fields, this probably won't be considered a "transfer" so much as a new doctoral program application from someone who just happens to be partway through a master's program.

    First - do you actually want a PhD? You've mentioned several times that you would get a "master's along the way" which is true in most (but not all) sociology PhD programs. But do you want the doctoral degree? There are a few standalone sociology MA programs - William Paterson University has one in applied sociology. If you're closer to Philadelphia than New York, Temple also has one. If you're OK suffering through the commute for a few more years for the sake of getting the degree you really want, there are also MA programs in sociology at City College (that's going to be even longer, since you're going to Harlem, but might be worth it - their program will be inexpensive!), Columbia University (ditto the longer commute, but without the benefit of being cheap), St. John's University, NYU, and the New School.

    If you do want a PhD - what does your application look like? How much research experience do you actually have, and what kind of research experience is it? Did you assist a professor in their lab/research group conducting research, or is most of your experience from class projects or the like?

    The other obstacle that you may run into is your undergrad degree. Although criminology is a subfield of sociology, a lot of colleges teach it differently. I looked up the criminology BA curriculum at a small liberal arts college in Pittsburgh (Chatham University) just for a look at their curriculum, and the vast majority of the classes in the major are specialized criminology courses designed for that department, not sociology courses that are focused on criminology. If your school's criminology curriculum is similar, a PhD program in sociology may feel that you are missing a lot of the core foundational courses that a sociology major would have that would prepare them for a PhD program (like classes on social problems, social stratification, culture and society, social dynamics and non-criminology-related social organizations and institutions). They may feel that you don't have the grounding in sociological theory that you need to be successful in a PhD program.

    Since you live in NJ, would it be possible for you to take a day to visit the department and talk to a professor?
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