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TMSAtalks Session: Chasing Curiosity: The Academic Life

By Rahul Bhatia

On Wednesday, April 5, 2017, TMSAtalks invited Kyla Walters, a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Massachusetts to describe the path to graduate education, as well as share her high school, undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate course experiences with TMSA students.

Kyla Walters is currently a Ph.D. Candidate, in the Department of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is currently working on her Dissertation so that she can get her Ph.D. from Graduate School. She graduated from NC State with a Bachelor’s of Arts Sociology with an honors thesis.

During her presentation, Kyla talked about her high school and college experiences, how to get to Graduate School and what Graduate Schools look for in an application.

Here are some key points from her presentation:

In Graduate School, your goal is to earn a Ph.D. or the title of Doctor of Philosophy:

  • You can get your Master’s Degree along the way
  • Many Ph.D. programs offer tuition waivers with teaching or research assistantships.

Strong Applications to Graduate School include:

  • A clear sense of research focus
  • Prior research experience, such as an unpaid assistantship for a faculty member
  • A strong undergraduate G.P.A.
  • Evidence of good writing
  • G.R.E. (Graduate Record Examination) Score.
  • Several Letters of Recommendation

There are two types of Research Models:

  • Apprenticeship:
    • You collaborate with a faculty member
    • It can be paid or unpaid
    • You need a multi-year commitment
  • Independent:
    • Much more self-determined
    • All writing is done by you and you alone
    • It is well suited for certain methods

A dissertation is an extended written treatment of a subject; specifically, one that is submitted for a doctorate. A dissertation should have:

  • Scope:
    • Depth over breadth
    • A study of just the right size
  • Relevance:
    • Your topic matters!
    • Theoretical contribution
  • Feasibility:
    • Financial cost
    • Location
    • Time
    • Ability

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