Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Career Prospects-2: Why Masters in English?

There was a student of mine. She secured 49% in her BA in English literature. Before her BA results came out, she applied for Masters in English at a university and she was able to clear the entrance test and the interview. She was selected for the course but she needed to secure 50% in her BA to become eligible to take the entrance test for MA. So, obviously her admission to Masters was cancelled. She was distraught and told me that she didn't know what she could do in life because she couldn't get into MA in English.

For most formal courses, a student needs to secure 50% in her undergraduate degree. So, in effect, a number of formal educational degrees are closed to her. But that does not mean that she can not do anything else in her life. I counselled her out of her depression and then gave her some pointers. The first thing she could do, if she were hell-bent on studying Masters in English would be to look into the open university system. In India, we have an excellent open university, which has a wide network. This is called the IGNOU-Indira Gandhi National Open University.

But this isn't really the central point of my argument. My first query is: Why should anyone desire to complete a Masters in English Literature unless they really were interested in literary studies? And even then, the curriculum that we have does not focus a lot on really inculcating a love of literature. Interestingly, the way in which teaching is imparted at various institutions leaves a lot to be desired. So, essentially, one would not gain a lot from the course, except of course, a degree to one's name. And yes, in India, where the colonial hangover remains and also the fact that English is a global language, a Masters degree in English certainly gives a person bragging rights.

For a large number of students, a Masters in English does not really achieve their intended dream and they just have a higher qualification in their hands.

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