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ianfaircloud

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ianfaircloud last won the day on April 26 2015

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About ianfaircloud

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    Philadelphia, PA
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    JD / MBE

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  1. This is a legitimate worry about the ranking of MA programs. Here's the deal. Go somewhere where there are great philosophers who work in your area of interest. Contact current students to see if those philosophers write letters and if the students who work with them actually get into good PhD programs. Pay attention to whether everybody from a program is coming out of, e.g., metaphysics, or if people are doing well from all areas of philosophy (across the discipline). DO look at placement records, because they are at least suggestive. They also indicate the kinds of people with whom you'll st
  2. You don't have to have any publications or patents or anything crazy like that. They're looking for a concise summary of where you went to school, any academic achievements (Honors list), and perhaps some work history. But yeah, most of us didn't publish anything anywhere when we applied. And look, publishing for your undergraduate journal just isn't very important to philosophers. ANYBODY can do that, frankly. I think it's great that undergrads publish their journals. I respect it a lot. But virtually anybody can get published in an undergraduate journal. The truth is that philosophers d
  3. This is a FANTASTIC QUESTION. For PhD applicants, I believe that the subject of the writing sample can make a crucial difference in the success of an applicant! Remember that the people who read your sample are thinking, "Would this person fit in here? Who would this person work with? Could I advise this person? Do I understand this paper? Do I know, based on my reading of the literature, that this person understands these difficult issues? Am I well-positioned to evaluate this candidate?" Accordingly, you should strive to select a subject matter that is: 1. accessible to a lot of po
  4. It's not universally the case, as of last year. But it's becoming almost universal. For what it's worth, in 2014, I believe six departments of the T20 required official transcripts mailed to the university.
  5. Your chances of admission to strong PhD programs are always low, even if you're an outstanding candidate. I still think it's worth the try. What I see in your case is that you have a solid and focused resume; you know what you want. That's a very good thing, because these departments really like people who are focused. Just based on what I'm reading, you look like a solid candidate. What I can't see here is whether you attended a strong undergraduate institution and whether your letter-writers are people known in the philosophy world. To gain admission to a top PhD program, it's almost necessa
  6. Every philosophy department will consider applicants who did work in non-philosophy areas. In fact, an MA in political theory could put you in a better position in some cases, particularly if you're thinking about political philosophy and you're applying to a program that's strong in that area.
  7. Consider all of them, but reduce the list to those to which you will apply. Apply only to programs which you would consider attending. Don't apply to so many programs that you can't submit quality and tailored applications to each. Don't apply to so many that you can't afford the fees. Outside of these restrictions, I would apply to as many as possible.
  8. Quick thought on this. A lot of people believe that terminal MAs are the best place to study philosophy on the way to the PhD. Programs that offer both the terminal MA and the PhD, the thought goes, cannot devote as much attention to the MA students as would be devoted to them in a program without PhD students. That's the thought. It sounds right to me, and a lot of smart people (Brian Leiter) think so, too. Based on what I heard from you, I recommend that you prioritize the MA programs that don't offer the PhD.
  9. Gap years are fine. From what I understand, what can hurt a little is anything on your application that sends the message that you're not sure where you want to be. So if you took time in your gap year(s) to attend graduate school completely unrelated to philosophy, that could make a small difference. I think, in the end, these things make little difference. What they want to see are strong letters and a background of formal study of philosophy (typically a degree in philosophy), in addition to an extremely strong writing sample, solid grades, and decent scores (roughly in that order). A gap y
  10. MA as a stepping stone can help, but it doesn't always help. There are a lot of factors here (which program, what area of interest, philosophical potential of the applicant, luck). I don't get the feeling that MA students as a rule are scrutinized more by PhD admission committees than non-MA students. There's a great Leiter post about this; it's a few years old now. Someone could Google that and post the link here. Philosophers on admission committees don't get too hung up on how much a student has already been molded. They care about philosophical potential. They want people who will produce
  11. Straight to PhD: if you believe that you will get admitted to the program of your choice. Wait a year: if you think that all you need to maximize your chances is more time. More time to do what? To write a better sample. To seek better letters. To retake the GRE. Etc. MA first: If you think you need any of the things that the MA programs typically provide. See the posts linked below. Two helpful posts on this site, both having to do with reasons to get an MA:
  12. Boa, for what it's worth, as I understand it, it's slightly easier, generally speaking, all other things held equal, for an American student to get admitted to Oxford's DPhil than for an American student to get admitted to a similarly-prestigious PhD program in the United States. I say this based only on my experience. Some of this has to do with funding options, just from what little I understand about applying to Oxford.
  13. Why are you considering Toronto? It's certainly not the best place to do the MA as a stepping stone to the PhD. But maybe you have reasons in favor of Toronto. What are you looking for in a master's program? What's important to you? Funding? Chance of admission to PhD? Chance of admission to strong PhD? It sounds like readiness matters to you. In my view, if you make it to a top-PhD program, it's extremely unlikely that you weren't ready, in the important sense. But maybe you mean something else by readiness ("to make sure [you're] ready").
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