Switching MA programs
March 31, 2014 3:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm finishing my second semester of a MA program, and am realizing that I am not happy in this program and (most importantly) it isn't fulfilling my academic and professional needs. I have identified another MA program which I know would be a good fit for me, and am considering switching. Assuming money is no object here, would I be crazy to make the switch?

Some background: 23yo, have been working full time and studying half-to-full time for almost five years (last half of undergrad + first year of grad school).

At the end of this semester I will be 40% done with an MA. (I don't want to give too much detail, but it is at a non-prestigious college of a very prestigious university. It is billed as somewhere between academic and professional. It is in the poli sci/international relations/national security arena.) I am not happy with the program for the following reasons:

1. The coursework, while interesting/up my alley, is not challenging enough for me.
2. My peers are not intellectually curious; many of them say they are pursuing the MA only because it will get them a raise at work.
3. I have a very theoretical/qualitative background, and although I was told at the beginning of the program that this would be welcomed, I have found that some of my professors and especially my thesis adviser are eager to squash this element of my studies.
4. There is no emphasis on or resources for publication. This is a major problem for me because I want to go onto a PhD in a few years and need/want publications under my belt.

There is another program in my city that is a much better fit for me, and I am very confident I would be accepted for a variety of reasons that I won't go into here. I actually took some courses in this MA program while in college (it's at my alma mater), so I know that:

1. The coursework is more challenging/I will learn a lot
2. I will be surrounded by smart, curious people.
3. This program will help me hone my quantitative skills (which I fully admit need so exercise!) in statistics and public policy courses, but will also allow me to embrace my theoretical background.
4. There is a big emphasis on publication and I know many professors that would happily help me get my work published.

(Someone will inevitably ask why I didn't do this program immediately. The honest truth is that I felt like I needed a change of pace and wanted to do my graduate studies someplace other than my college. Not a great reason, I know, but there it is.) Basically, the only thing holding me back now is a desire to see this first MA program out. I don't like quitting or giving up, and I do think that staying where I am could be a great "character-building" exercise. But I feel foolish spending my time and money on a program that doesn't meet my needs.

So, Hivemind...your advice: should I tough it out, or make the switch?
posted by schroedingersgirl to Education (7 answers total)
Best answer: I switched. Worth every penny.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:04 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh also where I switched to actually took my credits which is really rare. But I would have switched regardless.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:05 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Absolutely switch. Aside from money, it sounds like there are absolutely no drawbacks to making the switch. Do it.
posted by mekily at 4:13 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can earn back your money later. You can't get back time. Go for it!
posted by Borborygmus at 4:28 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I faced your points 2/4 and was unhappy about it all through the program.

I can totally understand wanting a change of pace. But you've established that this place isn't helping you meet your goals. You can get a change of scene later on (with your PhD).
posted by Standard Orange at 6:07 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I also switched halfway through my MA for many of the same reasons.

It was honestly the absolute best choice. It's not really worth sticking it out in a program you're not getting anything out of - even if you have funding, it is a waste of precious time you could use devoting to research (and really, just enjoying yourself).

This also depends on your own personal situation, but my switch didn't extend my program significantly either because a number of the classes I had taken fulfilled the "elective course" requirements. Check out the logistics, because they may work in your favor, but I recommend switching either way.
posted by thebots at 7:19 PM on March 31, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for your feedback, everyone! Looks like I'll be putting in an application for the new program shortly. Appreciate your help.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 5:24 AM on April 1, 2014

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