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Bachelor's degree: does one's major matter

 
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Old Rasputin



Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:26 am    Post subject: Bachelor's degree: does one's major matter Reply with quote

Hi, I recently posted this on the newbie forum, but since my main objective is to teach in Russia, I thought I'd do well to ask here as well.

I'm planning on going back to school to finish a BA that I started some years ago with a view to pursuing a career in TEFL. I'm a thirty year old white male from the US. No wife, no kids and no debt (yet). I'm a guitarist by trade and have been teaching guitar professionally (one on one lessons) for 10 years now. I love to teach. I love language. And I want to travel/live abroad.

From reading this forum, I gather that anybody who wants to build a legitimate career in this field absolutely has to have a four year degree of some kind. What is less clear to me is whether it matters what that degree is in. Does it significantly affect one's employability to have a degree in say music, engineering, classics? Do you just need /a/ degree, or is it advisable to have an English degree, or perhaps one in linguistics or something? I was told that getting an undergrad degree in TESL would open more doors for MA programs, which sounds reasonable, but what about in Russia? Is it worth having an MA or not? I get the impression that this part of the world isn't the best place to get a lot of mileage (kilometer-age?) out of a graduate degree.

My hope is to teach in Russia, but I'm also open to Asia. I speak Russian so-so, and by the time I finish school I expect to be fluent-ish (definitions vary). I'm hoping that a reasonable command of the language will help me find better work sooner. Is this likely? Or am I doomed to MacSchool dues-paying? If so, then let it be so...

Oh, one more question: does anyone know if it makes a difference what country your BA/BS was earned in? Does it have to be an English speaking country? I only ask because a friend of mine in the Netherlands suggested that I try to go to university in Germany, which is apparently becoming more and more attractive and accessible to foreigners. I was skeptical.

Thanks in advance!

Cheers,
-Mike
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9316
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I know, and I could be wrong as visa requirements change like the weather, what you need to have depends very much on which type of visa your Russian employer is trying to have you issued with. There are Teacher visas, which require you to have a degree, in anything. A TEFL cert isn't needed. A standard Work visa does not require a degree at all, as far as I know. But I could be wrong there. Other posters will soon chime in there.

So, apply away to schools (yes, probably Maccers) and let them sort out the visa questions. The whole process is so crooked that you really need not worry about having the exactly right type of qualification: you may end up being officially listed as a 'consultant' working in an IT firm. Bears no relation to the reality, but that's the nature of paperwork in Russia : )

Best of luck to you!
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Shelby



Joined: 24 Dec 2010
Posts: 46
Location: Russia

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a teacher's visa and what was needed was a teaching qualification - to get the visa extended I needed an apostille on my CELTA. Nobody was interested in the degree. Then again that was last week so it may be different now!
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1832

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the whole, I agree with my colleagues. However, I would add that if you have a linguistics element in your degree (especially applied linguistics, it would be useful. It would permit you to teach English at Russian university. Now that sounds a bit weak when you consider the lousy salaries of Russian uni. teachers, but.. Some people work a limited number of hours at the university to get their visa and then find other things to do in their spare time, which may prove more lucrative than working for a language school. It would also help you to make a transition to a masters degree in a relevant subject if that's what you think you'd like.

Four year degrees? Is this a US thing? (In Britain, only Scottish universities offer these on a regular basis. Most English and Welsh degrees take three years.)
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ComradeBL



Joined: 28 Aug 2010
Posts: 70
Location: 'stan!

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@cd - Yes, it's a USA thing.

Historically, a BA/BS took 4 years to earn. Now, short of going year round, it takes about 5 years to earn, but we still call it a 4 year degree.

AA/AS = 2
BA/BS = 4
MA/MS = 2
PhD/JD/MD = 3-5+
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1832

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Comrade. And there was I thinking that we English were an educated people. We race through like whippets. BA/BSc in 3 years (a few are 2 years if all year round). MA/MSc in 1 year if full-time. PhD in about 3 years.
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macedonianmike



Joined: 28 Jun 2007
Posts: 60

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My advice would be that if you're thinking about a career in TESOL then why not get a degree in linguistics or even better TESOL or education. It won't really matter for Russia, but would probably help you professionally as well as be useful if you decide to further your education with a MA.

I think schools can still hire teachers on just a 'work visa' not needing any qualifications. The 'teacher visa' is a new thing I think. Different requirements. Don't really see the difference if you're working at a private school. I know teachers here working at private schools (with work visas I assume) without any qualifications, not even a BA or TESL certificate.
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