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Queen's vs. Western Ontario MA Programs


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I've been admitted to both the MA program at Queen's as well as the MA program at UWO (Western), and I'm a bit torn. I'm looking for a bit of input in terms of what the general public opinion is regarding these programs, and which one I should lean towards. The factors I have to consider are as follows:

  • I'm from London (where UWO is located) and would be very comfortable remaining here, whereas Queen's is far and I've yet to experience what it's like to live on my own (and so there will likely be added stress to going to Queen's).
  • It's a little unclear which program has more 'prestige' and which one has a better PhD placement record (it's ambiguous on both websites).
  • My interests are in ethics and political philosophy, and so Queen's would be a slightly better choice seeing as how the program I was admitted to is the specialization in 'political and legal though' (PLT) (but, at the same time, Western offers some strong courses in both ethics and political philosophy).
  • They've both offered me approx. the same amount of funding.
  • They're both course-based, and so I don't have a particular 'advisor' in mind in either program

Any input is appreciated.

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London is not far from Kingston. It's a four-hour drive away. That alone seems like a good reason to select Queen's: it'll give you a much more accurate idea of what the academic life is like. You will have exactly zero control over where you live, and you will most likely end up far (for real far, not London-to-Kingston far) from your family, and moving every year or two for the first five to ten years after your PhD. Maybe that's a deal-breaker for you, and maybe not. But if it is, then it's much better to know that now than to discover it ten years down the line.

Besides, for applied ethics and political theory few programs are better than Queen's. If it turns out that academic philosophy is not for you, Queen's makes retraining in medical/bioethics, public administration, etc. possible for you, since it enjoys a stellar reputation in those fields. Western... well, not so much. There's nothing wrong with Western, of course. And its placement from the PhD program into TT jobs is surprisingly good (it's a serious outlier for its PGR rank). But what Western does best is philosophy of science and mind, not ethics and political.It might also be worth noting that both philosophy departments have had big climate problems. From what I gather Queen's's are mostly in the past, whereas Western's are ongoing.

Also, FWIW: Neither MA is course-based. There are two semesters of coursework, and then you write a thesis over the summer.

As for prestige... it depends with respect to what. With respect to philosophy in general, Western wins hands down. With respect to ethics and political philosophy, Queen's wins easily. With respect to non-academic employment, Queen's wins unless it's a science field.


Edited by maxhgns
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