MS in Translation: Worth it?
Thread poster: ad_alta89

ad_alta89  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:17
French to English
+ ...
Nov 10, 2011

I am currently in the process of applying to an NYU program for an MS in Translation. The program is online. I believe that it would help me stand out and thus help me get started bringing in clients, especially given my very limited experience. (I am about to graduate with a BA in French Language and Literature, but I have only been translating on a volunteer basis for a little over a year.)

I understand of course that gaining more experience will also be extremely important, and I fully intend to do that while I'm working through this program. The problem is, it carries a hefty price tag, and I just don't know enough about the industry at this point to tell if such a degree will be worth it.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:17
Chinese to English
Hoping so... Nov 10, 2011

I'm just coming to the end of an online translation studies MA, so I'm wondering the same thing as you...

During the course of the MA, I made a decision that whatever the benefit of the certificate at the end, I would try to get something valuable out of the course itself. I have to tell you, that hasn't been very easy! My courses didn't seem to contain much that was very applicable as a commercial translator (there's a deadening focus on literary translation, as though high art is really all that matters, and what we technical/legal translators do is just so much dross). But I have found some stuff, through extensive reading, that is relevant. I got a chance to do some analysis of my own work that threw up some interesting results. And now, for my dissertation, my supervisor is trying to calm me down and design a manageable research plan - what I really want to do is something ambitious that can really inform my future work.

So whatever the value of the letters after your name, I advise you to look carefully at the course structure itself, and make sure that you will get some good meaty content. Check out whether there are lots of people working in your languages on the course; whether you get lots of interaction with peers, for advice and future business contacts; whether there is teaching in areas that you specialise in; whether the instructors are practising translators; whether the course has link-ups with relevant businesses.

Good luck!

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Richard Foulkes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:17
German to English
+ ...
More about the letters after your name than the course content... Nov 10, 2011

I did an MA over 10 years ago. I sometimes wonder how much of it I've ever applied in my work. I'm pretty sure I haven't applied my (obligatory) readings of the 'feminist approach to translation'. It just doesn't seem to come into play when translating technical manuals, sports journalism or real estate research!

I did my dissertation on subtitling thinking that would give me inroads into the more practical or commercial aspects of translation but that's obviously a niche area and I've never done any work in that line.

We did have some lectures on translation memory on the MA course. They were delivered by somebody from UMIST (university in Manchester, UK), which offered an MSc in Translation at the time. I'm not sure if they still do or whether it's available online, but the MSc appeared to focus more on TM etc., which may be more relevant to commercial work today than some of the more 'academic' material on an MA.

Having said that, I certainly think having the letters after my name demonstrated commitment to the profession and helped me to get started so I guess it's a matter of what you want out of the course.

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MS in Translation: Worth it?

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