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Master's Program in Chinese Literature: China or Taiwan.. or the US?


Lianhua

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I will complete my bachelor's degree program (U.S. school) this December in East Asian Studies and really want to get a Master's in Chinese Literature (Pre-Modern literature) in China/ Taiwan in the future. In terms of my interests, wouldn't getting a Master's in Chinese Literature from China/Taiwan be the smart thing to do?

I definitely feel pressure to stay in the States for graduate school, because the U.S. schools have the prestige and the stellar reputation. But, I've already experienced it, I want to try something new. My heart says I should get the Master's and do research in China/Taiwan since that is the literature of the country I am studying. Why not go to the source? I feel like that would be such an enriching experience for me.

Some people are advising against getting my Master's in China/Taiwan, because they feel I might come back to the U.S. without any job prospects. Others think it's not a huge problem so long as I return to the U.S. for a Ph.D. What do you think?

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How good is your Chinese? What are your long-term goals? If you are going to start a Master's program designed for locals, I would recommend going to Taiwan instead of mainland. Teachers in mainland universities spent a lot of time doing things other than teaching, and you may be disappointed by the level of discussion (or lack thereof) in the classrooms.

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Hey there Lianhua,

I'm in a similar boat myself. Unlike you however, I'm stuck in one city (Harbin) for the time being and have to make due with what I have.

Here are some things I've heard about mainland universities:

If you get accepted, you get the degree regardless of performance. You see this reflected in the work force all the time (e.g. English majors who can't speak English).

As Gato mentioned, there won't be the same level of discussion on the mainland. Classes are often lectures, and tests are marked on the students' ability to regurgitate the professor's lecture.

Foreigners can earn a "master's degree in xyz", but it's not the same course work as a "real masters" done by the Chinese themselves. If you come to the mainland, make sure you're studying with Chinese in Chinese (Mandarin).

The "education" you get here won't be as good as what you'll get back in the States.

I'm only entertaining the idea of doing an MA out here because I have nothing better to do with my spare time. However, I have no intention of having it stand for a "real" masters that I'd earn back home. In a few years once I start making plans to head back to the States, I plan on applying for a Master's program and then the PhD. The masters I get here will be more for show than anything else.

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Lianhua and kdavid,

I have the same situation too. I want to get a master's degree in Chinese language and literature but I am confined to Texas for many reasons that I won't go into here. My advice for you to look into University of Texas at Austin. I was wondering if there is an online degree program or two out there?

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Just a comment; gato said Mainland teachers spend a lot of time doing things other than teaching. This is typically very true of U.S professors. Often their teaching abilities aren't very important in the quest for tenure, as opposed to their research and publications. Depends upon the school; though in my experience the more prestigious schools often care less about teaching (but your degree will still be more valuable).

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Thanks for your responses everyone.

I'm wondering, are there any joint programs where one can study at both a Chinese and an American university and get a Master's degree from both schools?

I have seen a lot US-China / UK- China, etc joint Master's programs lately, but not of them are focused on Chinese Literature. Most of them are for those interested in getting an MBA or a masters in International Relations.

If not, I guess I'll have to suck it up and apply to a US school and hope I can spend atleast a year studying literature in China.

..I guess I could look into (Chinese) online degree programs too but that's not a top choice.

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What is your goal long term? Do you want to be a professor in the US? Or do you just want to learn for the sake of learning? If you will probably just stop at an MA and then go into the working world, then you could probably go either way. I think if you want to become a professor in the US then you'd be better off doing graduate work in the US. You'll make more connections that will help in the process of becoming a professor and your work will probably be read by other professors in the US if you publish in US academic journals. To be sure though, why not ask some of the professors in from your current university? Perhaps there are exchanges programs where you could complete half of the MA abroad and half in the US?

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Just out of curiosity, while I can understand that the lack of focus on teaching is not terribly beneficial at Undergrad/Honours level, why does it matter for a Masters? Shouldn't that be purely research? Or are the majority Masters by Coursework as opposed to Masters by Thesis?

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Just out of curiosity, while I can understand that the lack of focus on teaching is not terribly beneficial at Undergrad/Honours level, why does it matter for a Masters? Shouldn't that be purely research?

Most Master's program, in the US at least, consists mostly of courses. Students don't focus on research until the PhD level.

Even with research, it should be research guided by a teacher. Without the teacher, you might as well just "research" on your own, without paying the tuition.

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That's interesting. Differs from the way it's done over here. It's only Honours that's coursework. Some Masters degrees have coursework, but they're always (I think) two years, with the coursework being the first yera.

And yes, it should be guided research. But that's very different to teach a whole class. For a start, it's one person who's really interested in what they're doing.

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