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Julian0813

Can I get a second MA in philosophy?

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Posted (edited)

I have been studying an MA program in philosophy outside the USA. Last year, I applied to several PhD programs (some are listed on the Gourmet's report, some are not), I made to the waitlist of Oklahoma but got rejected in the end. I feel like having an MA in American may enhance the possibility of getting into a PhD program, but I am not sure if I am allowed to do so, or if it is uncommon in the field of philosophy? 

By the way, here is my background: I have one publication (in Chinese), my GRE score is V161/Q158/AW3, and my AOI is in epistemology (primary). 

Any advice and suggestion would be greatly appreciated ^^

Edited by Julian0813

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I don't really know much about MA programs in the US but I was in a fairly similar situation, so here's my two cents.

Last year I finished an MA in philosophy at a university in India, which I'm pretty sure none of the philosophy departments in the US must have ever heard of. I did have decent GRE scores (V167/Q165/AWA5.0) and good grades but like you I was quite apprehensive about my chances of getting admitted to a PhD program because I came from a university that is not well known. But the results were in the end not all that bad- I got admitted to Mizzou and I was waitlisted, though ultimately rejected, at UVA and Minnesota, out of 6 total applications. 

So based on my case alone I would be willing to bet that you do not need an MA from an american university in order to get into a PhD program in the US. Though whether you can get into a 'good' PhD program would be more tricky to say; I think an MA from an american university would improve your chances . Also, in most programs you earn an MA on your way to the PhD anyway, so whether you wish to do an MA before that is something I personally would consider seriously, given that you are already doing an MA. I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be allowed to apply for a second MA, particularly since its a different country, but my guess would be that spending time working on your writing sample would be an equally good way to improve your chances of getting in the next season.

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Posted (edited)

It does happen, although it's unusual. More often, it happens because someone with an MA is accepted to a PhD program where MAs are awarded as part of the progression to the PhD (this is normal in the US, but not elsewhere). It's also relatively common (though I'm not sure it's a good thing!) for citizens of one particular southern European country to do a second PhD (!) in philosophy at an Anglophone institution, in an effort to break into the international job market. So this kind of thing does happen.

I don't know whether an American/British/Australasian/Canadian MA would help you get into PhD programs in the US. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt, and it probably would help, but I don't know whether it would help more than spending all (or even a fraction of) that time on your writing sample and letter of interest would. Certainly, it wouldn't be worth paying for an American MA.

There are so many applicants for PhD programs that I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from your results the first time around. You made a waitlist, which is fantastic. That's a success you can build on, and an encouraging sign. If I were in your shoes, I'd forgo the second MA and just try again next year, with a stronger, better-informed application and a more carefully selected list of schools.

Edited by maxhgns

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@neechaaThanks for sharing your experience. I think one of my present goals would be polishing my sample, and probably I will retake GRE since your score is significantly higher than mine. 

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@maxhgnsThanks for telling me about the second PhD thing. The reason why I was not sure whether I was "allowed" to study a second MA is that I saw a blog mentioning that universities in the USA may not allow their applicants to have an MA in the same field.

I agree that paying for an MA is not the best option since it is expensive. So if I choose to apply to MA, I will look for the funded MA. But, even I get admitted, I still have to devote at least 2 years. So, I think what I will do is applying for PhD programs and also some MA programs as a backup. 

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Posted (edited)

Why get a second MA in philosophy?

If you got an MA in philosophy you should have a pretty well-rounded basis in philosophy on a graduate level, and you should know how to research. What would a second MA get you that you didn't already get? Or did you not get a decent foundation or not learn how to do research?

If it is merely to improve your chances into getting into a PhD (your OP), then your time would be better spent working on your writing sample (and GRE) and continuing to do good self-directed research. You definitely don't need a second MA to change your prospects much. It probably won't make much of a difference.

Edited by Duns Eith

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On 5/13/2019 at 10:56 AM, Julian0813 said:

I have been studying an MA program in philosophy outside the USA. Last year, I applied to several PhD programs (some are listed on the Gourmet's report, some are not), I made to the waitlist of Oklahoma but got rejected in the end. I feel like having an MA in American may enhance the possibility of getting into a PhD program, but I am not sure if I am allowed to do so, or if it is uncommon in the field of philosophy? 

By the way, here is my background: I have one publication (in Chinese), my GRE score is V161/Q158/AW3, and my AOI is in epistemology (primary). 

Any advice and suggestion would be greatly appreciated ^^


So, I was in a similar mindset as you earlier this year. However, thankfully I ended up having great results over all (3 Acceptances and 3 WL). Getting a 2nd MA is not unheard of, and especially for international students. When you apply again, you should definitely apply to MA programs (like UW-M, Oklahoma State, U of Arkansas, and few others - these are some of the funded MAs and that's why i mention them). Your recommendation letters will mean more coming from people in the U.S especially if they are known in your AOI and the chances of an American, UK, or Australian philosopher being well known are more likely.

However, I'm not sure what is your GPA (do you guys have GPA or something else), or what your writing sample is like. If you'd like I can give it a read. But, to be honest your GRE scores could definitely improve. Your verbal isn't terrible but for a good program you should definitely retake it. Your AW is pretty low, but I think that's less important, if at all. Hopefully, this helps.

 

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I wouldn't recommend going for another MA because 1) it's unlikely it'll be fully funded, and 2) there's no guarantee it will make you a better candidate. I would reapply to a wide range (in terms of ranking/reputation) of PhD programs, with maybe a couple of MAs as safeties. Focus on your sample as that's by far the most important thing. Your GRE scores are borderline, but my advice is to spend the time you have polishing the sample, rather than studying for and retaking the GRE. 

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On 5/13/2019 at 8:56 AM, Julian0813 said:

I have been studying an MA program in philosophy outside the USA. Last year, I applied to several PhD programs (some are listed on the Gourmet's report, some are not), I made to the waitlist of Oklahoma but got rejected in the end. I feel like having an MA in American may enhance the possibility of getting into a PhD program, but I am not sure if I am allowed to do so, or if it is uncommon in the field of philosophy? 

By the way, here is my background: I have one publication (in Chinese), my GRE score is V161/Q158/AW3, and my AOI is in epistemology (primary). 

Any advice and suggestion would be greatly appreciated ^^

I was in a similar situation a few years ago. PM me if you need additional information. Good luck!

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On 5/16/2019 at 6:14 PM, Moose#@1%$ said:


So, I was in a similar mindset as you earlier this year. However, thankfully I ended up having great results over all (3 Acceptances and 3 WL). Getting a 2nd MA is not unheard of, and especially for international students. When you apply again, you should definitely apply to MA programs (like UW-M, Oklahoma State, U of Arkansas, and few others - these are some of the funded MAs and that's why i mention them). Your recommendation letters will mean more coming from people in the U.S especially if they are known in your AOI and the chances of an American, UK, or Australian philosopher being well known are more likely.

However, I'm not sure what is your GPA (do you guys have GPA or something else), or what your writing sample is like. If you'd like I can give it a read. But, to be honest your GRE scores could definitely improve. Your verbal isn't terrible but for a good program you should definitely retake it. Your AW is pretty low, but I think that's less important, if at all. Hopefully, this helps.

 

Thank you, this helps a lot! My grad GPA is 4.23 on the scale of 4.3, so I think the problem is on my GRE or writing sample (or both). And I am kind of surprised that you think my AW is not a big deal comparing to my Verbal. Can you explain a little bit more why you think it is less important? Because it may affect the way I prepare for GRE. To be honest, I have spent a lot of time practicing AW, but I still only got 3. If AW is not so important, I will spend my time studying Verbal. 

As to the writing sample, I really appreciate your willingness to help read my sample. But I am not familiar with how this forum runs, should I PM you, or attach my sample in the post?

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So, one of the big issues with the GRE is that the analytic writing section is notoriously unreliable. This may (or may not) be true, but that is a commonly held perception. At best, higher writing scores usually correlate to higher verbal scores. As a result, the actual treatment of the AW is sidelined in favor of the more 'reliable' (at least apparently) verbal score. On average, graduate applicants to any program try to score a 4 or higher on the AW. A high verbal plus a 3 wouldn't necessarily hurt you, except in the more competitive programs.

With respect to the verbal score, I will repeat advice I gave elsewhere in the forum: I have been explicitly told by members of committees that verbal scores are used in the sorting process and prospective students with particularly high scores have an advantage. Often applicants in the 98th percentile (varies by year, usually 167+) and above are given preferential treatment in the process (this varies from department to department, but is far more prevalent than reading this forum might suggest). This doesn't guarantee acceptance, but is quite helpful.

While the writing sample is the most important, if you can afford it, a higher GRE score is a good thing and really does help. And, fortunately, repeated attempts at the GRE do usually lead to better results (fewer careless errors, a better understanding of the pacing of the test, etc.)

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On 5/28/2019 at 12:12 AM, SmugSnugInARug said:

So, one of the big issues with the GRE is that the analytic writing section is notoriously unreliable. This may (or may not) be true, but that is a commonly held perception. At best, higher writing scores usually correlate to higher verbal scores. As a result, the actual treatment of the AW is sidelined in favor of the more 'reliable' (at least apparently) verbal score. On average, graduate applicants to any program try to score a 4 or higher on the AW. A high verbal plus a 3 wouldn't necessarily hurt you, except in the more competitive programs.

With respect to the verbal score, I will repeat advice I gave elsewhere in the forum: I have been explicitly told by members of committees that verbal scores are used in the sorting process and prospective students with particularly high scores have an advantage. Often applicants in the 98th percentile (varies by year, usually 167+) and above are given preferential treatment in the process (this varies from department to department, but is far more prevalent than reading this forum might suggest). This doesn't guarantee acceptance, but is quite helpful.

While the writing sample is the most important, if you can afford it, a higher GRE score is a good thing and really does help. And, fortunately, repeated attempts at the GRE do usually lead to better results (fewer careless errors, a better understanding of the pacing of the test, etc.)

Sorry for the late reply. I hadn't checked the forum for a while. This information is really helpful. Now I know I have to put more effort into studying Verbal.

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