Preparing Students for Grad Schooland Tracking Results

March 27, 2019

MCLA's Sociology Department

MCLA's Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Department faculty have sent 41 of their students to grad schools since 2013—26 in the past two years alone. 

Harvard. NYU. Rutgers. Smith. UMass-Amherst. What do these have in common? MCLA Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work alumni attended grad programs at all of them. 

MCLA Professor Michele Ethier, who also chairs the department, has been tracking grad school data since 2013, and the numbers look good: The Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work Department has sent 41 of their students to grad schools—26 in the past two years alone. 

Of the students in this data set, 61 percent are enrolled in Master of Social Work (MSW) programs. Though MCLA does not offer a Bachelor’s in Social Work, “our students have no difficulty getting into MSW programs,” Ethier says. 

These MCLA alumni are in a wide variety of grad programs—while many are working on their MSW, others are working on doctorates in psychology or anthropology. At least one student is earning a master’s in theological studies; others are working on graduate degrees in organizational leadership or public administration, and at least one is earning an MBA.

 “This data suggests that students who study with sociologists, anthropologists, and social workers at MCLA can find success in diverse masters and doctoral programs outside our specific disciplines.” 

Preparing students for graduate school is part of the work of academia—but many other faculty members at other schools do not have the time or resources to work with students one-on-one. Sociology Department faculty routinely meet with students interested in graduate school, making sure they find the right fit. Department faculty wrote personal letters of recommendation for every singe student in this data set, helped edit personal statements, and helped students prepare for other aspects of the application process.

The data—and the work behind it—“denotes the commitment the faculty in the Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Department have to our students,” says Ethier.

Many students also enrolled in the pro-seminar course taught by professors Ingrid Castro and Jennifer Zoltanski. These seminars introduce students to the wide variety of graduate programs, resume development, and how to write a solid application including personal statements. “The course also covers the expectations of graduate programs and the responsibilities of graduate students and so much more,” Ethier says.

“This is a testament to our interdisciplinary major and our liberal arts mission,” Ethier says. “These alums are mostly sociology majors who completed one or more of our minors; some majored outside the department but minored within the department, a few were enrolled in our classes and became interested in our disciplines and developed a connection with a departmental faculty member who encouraged pursuit of graduate education.”