Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Great Doctoral Degree Hunt: Part III

By Leah MacVie
Harvard, Boston, USA
Photo by
I feel great that I am at this stage. Some things I've learned from a few weeks ago:
  • Tips and tricks from people you know can make a huge difference. Whenever people would ask me what I was up to, I always answered that I was working on narrowing my selections to apply for my doctorate. I received so many helpful tips and pointers- way more than if I simply responded with 'same old, same old'.
  • Don't be afraid to ask people for help. I work at a college so it was pretty easy to find people to help with specific issues I was unclear on.  I knew exactly the right person to talk to when it came to figuring out accreditation and getting a second opinion on my final selections.
  • Testimonials are invaluable when it comes to really learning what the program is about. Someone I work with is a Ph.D. candidate at one of my final choices. Her comments about the program were invaluable in finding out more about the general program atmosphere.
  • Look for tips in unlikely places. (Or possibly not so unlikely.) William and Matt Eventoff recently wrote an article, The Best Defense ..., their advice for defending a dissertation.

Mission 6: Final Choices

I continued to work on the spreadsheet I mentioned in Part II.  I found that I really didn't need to formally rank the rank the schools as mentioned in Mission 5, as a lot of the schools eliminated themselves: the program was too narrow, the program was too expensive or too long, and with one, I couldn't really figure out if the exact concentration I was looking at was indeed a hybrid program. I found that the final two selections were a great fit in academic and college atmosphere, had a reasonable price and reasonable credit hours, and had a solid hybrid structure.

Mission 7: Work on Application Pieces

Next, I realized that in order to apply to these schools, I really needed to have a separate spreadsheet to organize the information. I also decided to work on an 'application press kit' to hopefully make it easier for the selection committees to make a decision. It's helping me to keep all of the information organized. I also have a little pile going at home for each school. I am choosing to send some things in that are not required, for example, a brief bio with photo and a link to a video I record for each school. I think it's important to help the committees to get to know my passion for learning and my commitment to attaining this degree.

I am still searching for more individuals who have documented their hybrid Ph.D. searches and hybrid programs, but this info is not easy to come by. If you know of anyone or programs not currently listed, please send me the info. I will be very grateful!

Leah MacVie is a blogger, instructional designer, photographer, and former graphic and Web designer. She possesses a BFA from the University at Buffalo and a Master’s in Educational Computing from the SUNY College at Buffalo. In her spare time, she is focusing on finding out more about DIY and informal learning. You can read more at

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