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Comparative humanities master’s now joint degree option for Brandeis seniors

Published: October 3, 2014
Section: News


There is a new opportunity for Brandeis students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the humanities. The Master of the Arts in Comparative Studies (MACH) is a program in its second year at Brandeis. This year is the first time it will be offered with a combined B.A./M.A. track.

The program crosses linguistic, cultural and disciplinary boundaries. MACH was designed by Professor David Powelstock (RUS/COML) and other humanities faculty. They created the program to appeal to students with an interest in the humanities, regardless of their future career plans. This program is designed to be different from other humanities masters’ degrees. The program crosses linguistic, cultural and disciplinary boundaries to create an opportunity to learn from all of the distinguished faculty at Brandeis.

Upon admission to MACH, students will work with their new faculty advisor to develop an individualized curriculum specific to their interests. “Students will take eight courses over the course of the year including two specialized MACH graduate seminars, an independent research tutorial with a faculty advisor and five additional courses chosen in conjunction with program advisors. Students work to complete an original capstone project. In May, students present their projects at a festive symposium,” said Powelstock, head of the program. B.A./M.A. students are able to apply to have two upper-level humanities courses taken as undergraduates count toward their eight-course M.A. requirement. This would allow them to take only six courses their final year, “allowing the students more time to devote to capstone research,” Powelstock said.

Because of its flexibility, MACH appeals to a variety of students. Many students are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the humanities, but according to Powelstock, “would like to develop a clearer direction of inquiry or improve their skills and credentials.” Other students are interested in careers in management of museums or art institutions, where additional training and knowledge is valuable and many times required. Educators and students interested in pursuing a career in education will find that this program increases the number of topics they are qualified to teach.

Special opportunities are available for current juniors and seniors at Brandeis. Application fees are waived for students and alumni. Usually a requirement for graduate school admission, the GRE score is waived for those who would like to pursue the B.A./M.A. option. Powelstock said the department “already knows our students well enough through their work at Brandeis,” and thus it is not necessary to have more information when reviewing applications. Each Brandeis student admitted to MACH will receive a $10,000 alumni scholarship.

Applications for seniors interested in applying to the B.A./M.A. track are due Nov. 15, 2014. Juniors interested in applying are encouraged to apply by spring 2015.