What is the distinction between the MA for the MA/PhD program and the MA Plan II?
The MA portion of the MA/PhD program, also called the MA Plan I, is quite different in focus and intent from the terminal master’s degree program, also called the MA Plan II. Plan I is specifically designed to prepare for and lead on to a PhD; Plan II is a final degree. Plan I is intended for those whose ultimate goal is to teach or conduct research in a university setting; Plan II is intended for those with other career goals in mind and who do not plan on teaching beyond a junior college level. Those who have successfully completed the MA Plan II in our department include journalists specializing in news stories focused on religion; artists working with religious imagery in their work; practicing doctors and psychologists or pre-med students who wished to have a better understanding of the various religious beliefs of their patients; high school and community college teachers; etc.
How long does each program take? What requirements does each program have?
The MA Plan I is typically a two- to three-year (and sometimes more) program that includes required units and coursework, required language study, the formation of a thesis committee, and the writing of a complete master’s thesis. The MA Plan II is a one-year program that includes the completion of 36 units, 24 at the graduate level, and one required core course (RG ST 201); the selection of the rest of the courses is up to the student, within parameters specified in the General Catalog. There is no language study involved, nor is a thesis written.
Is it easier to get admitted to the MA Plan II? Is there a different application?
The same application and criteria are used for admission to the MA Plan II and the MA/PhD program. The admissions committee rigorously reviews the statement of purpose, transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and writing sample for all applicants. Since MA Plan II students participate in the same graduate seminars as MA Plan I and PhD students, their applications must demonstrate that they will be able to keep up in those courses. It is also very important that the stated objectives of the applicant match the intended focus of the desired program. If an applicant to the MA Plan II program indicates a desire for a future PhD, it might signal to the reviewing committee that this person is not a suitable candidate for Plan II.
If I am admitted to the MA Plan II program, can I later request to continue for the PhD?
The MA Plan II is a terminal master’s degree program; it is not designed to lead on to a PhD. Our department does not permit participants in the MA Plan II to switch over to the MA/PhD program.
Is funding available for applicants to the MA Plan II?
Unfortunately, no fellowship funding is available through either the department or the Graduate Division. Because the time commitment for the MA Plan II is so short (one year), our funding resources must be devoted to those in the programs with much longer time commitments and thus more costs to support. Financial aid via the FAFSA is always a possibility (consisting of loans and/or work study jobs), and some of our MA Plan II students have been known to find TA positions in other departments.