‘Master’s in Comparative Social Research Is a Perfect Fit for My Academic Needs’
Aleena Khan, from Pakistan, is currently pursuing a master's in Comparative Social Research at HSE University, Moscow. Despite studying online in the first semester, she already feels part of the HSE student community. In her interview, Aleena talks about the admissions process, her favourite courses, and her general impressions.
HSE's Comparative Social Research (CSR) programme is among the top ranked sociology programmes in the world. I got to know about HSE while searching for masters' programmes in sociology that aligned with my academic and career interests.
What I particularly loved about HSE's CSR programme was its focus on quantitative methods in the social sciences. My previous academic training in quantitative skills left much to be desired. Therefore, I found the CSR programme at HSE a perfect fit for my needs.
Compared to other universities that I applied to in the US, UK, and Sweden, I can safely say that I found HSE's admission process both easy and straightforward
I also found HSE's admission portal much more comprehensive than other universities. I felt that I was able to fully showcase my previous work and credentials due to the flexibility and comprehensiveness of the admission system.
The admissions committee was also very quick in getting back to me with an evaluation of my portfolio. I applied to HSE in the last week of December and I got an interview call from the admissions committee after just two weeks in mid-January!
Contrary to my apprehensions, the interview was not daunting but felt like a friendly conversation instead
The professors who interviewed me made sure that I was at ease during the interview and had a very welcoming attitude. They were also very generous in answering my queries towards the end of the interview.
I love studying at HSE! As a first-year student, I have taken 6 courses so far. These include both qualitative and quantitative courses. That's the beauty of the way the CSR programme has been designed. There is a very good balance between quantitative and qualitative research methods.
The class format so far has been online. While this was challenging at first, I have personally become comfortable with it over time. That said, I do miss in-person classes and I'm really looking forward to offline classes resuming in the third module.
As far as the workload at HSE is concerned, it is not for the faint-hearted. This is probably a result of the short duration of a module at HSE. Despite studying full time and having no other work engagements, it still gets very challenging for me to manage the workload of courses. While high workload translates into a steep learning curve, it does also translate into a lot of stress, burn-out, and fatigue. To future incoming students, I would say, buckle up!
So far, I have particularly found the courses in descriptive and inferential statistics interesting. Despite having taken courses in statistics before, I have never really felt comfortable with it.
It is only now after studying at HSE that I have started to understand social statistics and have come to appreciate its applications in the social sciences
None of this would have possible if it weren't for the exceptionally brilliant, approachable, and responsive professors at HSE! If I had a dollar for every time I asked our statistics professor - Anna Almakaeva - a question, I'd be plenty rich. Despite my flurry of questions, I have always found her very encouraging and responsive. She painstakingly addresses all my queries without as much as a hint of annoyance, no matter how ignorant my questions sound to me in retrospect. Having professors like Anna has been nothing short of a blessing.
In addition to this, what I have found particularly admirable about qualitative courses is the emphasis on application and reflection
Getting a chance to apply what we learn in our assignments and to evaluate existent literature using the concepts we master goes a long way in developing our critical thinking skills as social scientists.
Thanks to professors like Christian Fröhlich and Lili di Puppo, we have all become better readers, writers, and thinkers! To summarize, I have found the professors at HSE smart, competent, compassionate, welcoming and responsive. What more could one possibly ask for?
Despite not being in Moscow yet, I feel I am already an integral part of the student community
My colleagues are very active and helpful in our group chat. Besides the usual academic queries, there's a frequent exchange of light-hearted chatter, GIFs, laughter, and cultural anecdotes. I have already made my first Russian best friend - Sasha! She teaches me Russian words from time to time and makes Moscow feel like a home that I have come to long for.
Admissions to HSE’s Bachelor's and Master’s programmes are now open. International students can apply online. Submit your application early to qualify for a full-tuition scholarship.
To learn more about HSE University, its admission process, or life in Moscow, please visit International Admissions website, or contact the Education & Training Advisory Centre. The staff are happy to advise applicants and their parents via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone +7 (495) 531 00 59, or WhatsApp +7 (916) 311 85 21, as well as on social media in Russian and in English: Vkontakte, Facebook, Telegram and Instagram.
Deputy Head, Ronald F. Inglehart Laboratory for Comparative Social Research
Assistant Professor, School of Sociology