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Philosophy Graduate Entrants 2020


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This is a group for everyone applying to graduate school in philosophy this cycle, to matriculate in fall 2020. There is also a Facebook group with the same name as this thread, where people can discuss everything about this whole process.

Good luck everyone! ☺️

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On 10/24/2019 at 5:45 PM, quineonthevine said:

There is also a Facebook group with the same name as this thread, where people can discuss everything about this whole process.

Here's a link to make it even easier! :) https://www.facebook.com/groups/383145905518561/

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4 hours ago, Quaaliaa said:

Why do you think this?

This board has been getting quieter every year for at least the last few years that I've been using it. I'm not sure exactly why, other than maybe people have been using FB in lieu of these kinds of forum sites. That being said, people inevitably start joining later in the app season when they start stressing about apps, and it'll probably pick up then.

Also, a few of us who are more seasoned have stuck around to answer questions, like @Duns Eith@Marcus_Aurelius@maxhgns@Glasperlenspieler etc.

Edited by hector549
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello,

I’m an applicant from the UK who’s applying to Philosophy PhD programs in the US starting September 2020. I recently took the GRE and got a verbal score of 166 (97th percentile) and a quant score of 156 (60th percentile). There seems to be so much conflicting information about how important GRE scores are and, as an international applicant, it can all be very confusing. Do you think that my mediocre quant score will be a hindrance to getting into any (or certain top) PhD programs in the states? 

Other relevant background info to do with my application: I have a BA and an MPhil in Philosophy. I got my BA from a Russell Group University (top 25 or so in the UK) and my MPhil from an ancient University (top 2 in the UK). I have what I think is equivalent to a 4.0 GPA for my BA and a 3.8 GPA for my MPhil (although the conversion for the MPhil is quite difficult and a rough approximation). I’m expecting very promising letters of recommendation. 

Any clarificatory information and/or advice would be appreciated!

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7 hours ago, Prob said:

Do you think that my mediocre quant score will be a hindrance to getting into any (or certain top) PhD programs in the states?

I don't think it will be a hindrance, and I sort of think 156 is close to average for philosophy applicants.

Know this: people with higher scores than you will get rejected from top programs, and people with lower scores than you will get accepted to them.

As for understanding how the GRE is evaluated, there is no standard practice. Some people ignore scores, some recognize the GRE is an exercise that punishes people who aren't neurotypical, some people think the GRE measures something relevant to philosophical capacity. It's pretty impossible to predict which is the case for programs that still require the GRE as part of an application, too much inconsistency across the board.

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6 hours ago, Olórin said:

I don't think it will be a hindrance, and I sort of think 156 is close to average for philosophy applicants.

Know this: people with higher scores than you will get rejected from top programs, and people with lower scores than you will get accepted to them.

As for understanding how the GRE is evaluated, there is no standard practice. Some people ignore scores, some recognize the GRE is an exercise that punishes people who aren't neurotypical, some people think the GRE measures something relevant to philosophical capacity. It's pretty impossible to predict which is the case for programs that still require the GRE as part of an application, too much inconsistency across the board.

Thanks very much for letting me know. The thing that concerns me is that a few of the programs that I'm applying for say their average quant score for their PhD students is in the 80th+ percentile. But this information is of limited use for the reason that it doesn't give the range of quant scores. Would you say that if it's fair to think that if they talk about their average GRE scores on their admissions website, then they are more likely than average to care about such scores? Does area of interest intersect with this issue as well? I mainly like metaphysics and metaethics, and want to make the fact that I want to learn about model theory an important part of my letter of intent. Will mediocre quant scores be viewed more poorly in light of my interests?

Edited by Prob
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12 hours ago, Olórin said:

I don't think it will be a hindrance, and I sort of think 156 is close to average for philosophy applicants.

Why do you sorta think this?

I have read on FAQs for different schools that about 162-164 is the average for accepted applicants, oftentimes. I guess it would make sense that the average applicant would be lower, like 156 or so. Either way, I didn't know if you had a source. Like, if you collected all of the scores posted on GradCafe's survey or if you had a different source.

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2 hours ago, Duns Eith said:

Why do you sorta think this?

I have read on FAQs for different schools that about 162-164 is the average for accepted applicants, oftentimes. I guess it would make sense that the average applicant would be lower, like 156 or so. Either way, I didn't know if you had a source. Like, if you collected all of the scores posted on GradCafe's survey or if you had a different source.

I know this is rather old data but here it states that the average quantitative score for intended philosophy majors is 153.

Maybe it's gone up a bit since 2014 when this was aggregated?

Edited by Quaaliaa
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9 hours ago, Quaaliaa said:

I know this is rather old data but here it states that the average quantitative score for intended philosophy majors is 153.

Maybe it's gone up a bit since 2014 when this was aggregated?

More recent data from ETS say people intending to study philosophy who take the GRE have a mean verbal score of 159 and quantitative score of 154. What we can infer from that about people who actually apply to grad programs is a different question. A few programs have average scores of accepted applicants on their websites. e.g., Notre Dame, UCSD, Mizzou, and Chicago, to name a few, though it's hard to know how up-to-date this info is.

My two cents to @Prob and anyone else: don't sweat the quant score too much. If it's in at least the 50th-60th percentile range, that's sufficient. I certainly wouldn't spend a whole lot of time trying to improve a score in that range. Your time will be better served focusing on your sample. This is assuming that you're not trying to do particularly formal or logic-focused work in grad school. Then you may want to have a higher quant score.

Edited by hector549
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1 hour ago, hector549 said:

More recent data from ETS say people intending to study philosophy who take the GRE have a mean verbal score of 159 and quantitative score of 154.

It is fascinating what those numbers look like. Kind of off-topic, but Philosophy and Theology/Religion scored the highest mean in verbal with above average quant scores.

Social work and Special Education, though...

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On 11/18/2019 at 5:03 AM, Prob said:

Would you say that if it's fair to think that if they talk about their average GRE scores on their admissions website, then they are more likely than average to care about such scores?

Sigh, it's hard to say. Every department has a unique admissions process, and the people on the admissions committee tend to change frequently. One year someone may care about quant scores more, another year someone else might not. I know it's frustrating to have to deal with that uncertainty, and my take on programs publishing average scores is that they do it to allay some of that frustration. Even so, an average is still an average; it says something, but not very much.

 

On 11/18/2019 at 5:03 AM, Prob said:

Does area of interest intersect with this issue as well? I mainly like metaphysics and metaethics, and want to make the fact that I want to learn about model theory an important part of my letter of intent. Will mediocre quant scores be viewed more poorly in light of my interests?

I'd say quant scores usually only obviously matter if you declare an interest in philosophy of mathematics. Anything short of that, and it is the more common position to look past them. Think about this: the faculty evaluating quant scores probably don't study math, and they won't know exactly what a quant score assesses in the first place. So, it's not a great metric for those people to use when assessing applicants. Those people will be more interested in other parts of the application. Like your writing sample.

At the end of the day, I wish we could say the score (which by the way is like, not a bad score), I wish we could say it doesn't matter. But it might, and few if any of us will ever know how it mattered, even if we get accepted. (My quant score was 158 if it helps, and I got accepted.)

Edited by Olórin
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On 11/19/2019 at 8:19 PM, TheCarbWhisperer said:

For schools that list the GRE as "optional", should I still submit my scores? (162V/151Q/5.5A)

I want to chime in here, but I don't know if any advice I'd give is good.

I didn't submit my GRE scores to any school that didn't require it. Mine were 157v, 155q, 5.5a. Some said that they don't weigh it heavily; others say that they will take it into consideration if they are supplied.

But I hear that some graduate colleges, which regulate the individual departments, basically require the GRE for benchmarks and justifications for funding in terms of TA'ships, even if the department doesn't require it specifically for their determination. For a private school, I imagine that is less of an issue. They might have funding sources or fellowships that isn't structured the same way.

Edited by Duns Eith
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3 hours ago, Duns Eith said:

I want to chime in here, but I don't know if any advice I'd give is good.

I didn't submit my GRE scores to any school that didn't require it. Mine were 157v, 155q, 5.5a. Some said that they don't weigh it heavily; others say that they will take it into consideration if they are supplied.

But I hear that some graduate colleges, which regulate the individual departments, basically require the GRE for benchmarks and justifications for funding in terms of TA'ships, even if the department doesn't require it specifically for their determination. For a private school, I imagine that is less of an issue. They might have funding sources or fellowships that isn't structured the same way.

Thank you for this! I'm Canadian so the whole public/private thing is new to me, but it's a state school so it's public I believe. This is all they say: "The department does not require GRE scores as part of the application, but you may have them sent to us, and if we have them, we do consider them."

I know McGill "strongly encourages" but doesn't require that you send them so I will send them to McGill but otherwise I'm thinking of only sending them if they're a requirement.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am a non-native speaker applying next year. My question is rather about the topic selection: I think having a main target (either for it or against it) and presenting a clear argument is good for a writing sample. Is that right? And is it good to also refer to many related articles to show that I have a good command of the big picture and the specific topic? Specifically, I'm interested in justification-excuse, KK and norms of assertion in epistemology. So the question is rather this: should I show both a broad and a specific picture of these topics?

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

On 12/2/2019 at 1:44 AM, PhilCoffee said:

I am a non-native speaker applying next year.

Good luck!

On 12/2/2019 at 1:44 AM, PhilCoffee said:

My question is rather about the topic selection: I think having a main target (either for it or against it) and presenting a clear argument is good for a writing sample. Is that right?

Yes, emphatically, yes. Make sure you have an argument and that each major move is clear. It doesn't matter whether you have just one author in view, but you should have a definite thesis in view.

On 12/2/2019 at 1:44 AM, PhilCoffee said:

And is it good to also refer to many related articles to show that I have a good command of the big picture and the specific topic? Specifically, I'm interested in justification-excuse, KK and norms of assertion in epistemology. So the question is rather this: should I show both a broad and a specific picture of these topics?

It is good to indicate that you know where this specific discussion fits in the literature, but don't let all of the possible connections to related fields slow you down. That would become unwieldy.

On 12/2/2019 at 1:44 AM, PhilCoffee said:

Specifically, I'm interested in justification-excuse, KK and norms of assertion in epistemology. So the question is rather this: should I show both a broad and a specific picture of these topics?

It is good to zoom out (give a 500 meter aerial view) so that someone who isn't familiar with your precise debate still can understand what is going on. Your sample will likely be read by multiple people, including those outside your area of interest. So, expect someone in ethics or metaphysics to be reading it. Even if only epistemologists read it, your paper will have the virtue of being sufficiently clear and easy to read.

 

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14 hours ago, Duns Eith said:

 

Good luck!

Yes, emphatically, yes. Make sure you have an argument and that each major move is clear. It doesn't matter whether you have just one author in view, but you should have a definite thesis in view.

It is good to indicate that you know where this specific discussion fits in the literature, but don't let all of the possible connections to related fields slow you down. That would become unwieldy.

It is good to zoom out (give a 500 meter aerial view) so that someone who isn't familiar with your precise debate still can understand what is going on. Your sample will likely be read by multiple people, including those outside your area of interest. So, expect someone in ethics or metaphysics to be reading it. Even if only epistemologists read it, your paper will have the virtue of being sufficiently clear and easy to read.

 

Thank you. Yes, I think the moral is to be clear and specific in the text and also to mention the big picture where the topic fits in.

The big picture and related topics can be discussed and referred to in the footnotes in order to keep the main text simple. This seems common in published articles and I'm learning from them.

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8 hours ago, PhilCoffee said:

Thank you. Yes, I think the moral is to be clear and specific in the text and also to mention the big picture where the topic fits in.

The big picture and related topics can be discussed and referred to in the footnotes in order to keep the main text simple. This seems common in published articles and I'm learning from them.

One piece of advice, though: Don't feel a need to have as many footnotes as most published articles do. Adcomms want to see knowledge of and engagement with scholarship, but they're looking for your argumentation and potential as a philosopher, not for oblique references to papers that have little to do with your argument. Some footnotes and references to contemporary literature are great, and you can put stuff in your bibliography that isn't cited in the paper, but footnotes should not be your focus.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/17/2019 at 2:03 PM, Prob said:

Hello,

I’m an applicant from the UK who’s applying to Philosophy PhD programs in the US starting September 2020. I recently took the GRE and got a verbal score of 166 (97th percentile) and a quant score of 156 (60th percentile). There seems to be so much conflicting information about how important GRE scores are and, as an international applicant, it can all be very confusing. Do you think that my mediocre quant score will be a hindrance to getting into any (or certain top) PhD programs in the states? 

Other relevant background info to do with my application: I have a BA and an MPhil in Philosophy. I got my BA from a Russell Group University (top 25 or so in the UK) and my MPhil from an ancient University (top 2 in the UK). I have what I think is equivalent to a 4.0 GPA for my BA and a 3.8 GPA for my MPhil (although the conversion for the MPhil is quite difficult and a rough approximation). I’m expecting very promising letters of recommendation. 

Any clarificatory information and/or advice would be appreciated!

Do you mind me asking where are your planning on applying or have applied? GRE plays different roles for different schools. For example, wisconsin - none, some kind of use it to decide between equally good applications.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Extremely few in philosophy. The only one I know of is University of Chicago, but there might be others. Which I've honestly always found a little weird. You'd think in a field where argumentation and defense of ideas are important, they might interview us on some views and press us just to see what the thought process is. Then again, if you're getting hundreds of applications few faculty members want to read anyway, finding time to interview, say, 20-30 people in the span of a month, in the middle of a semester, no less, is pretty difficult.

Edited by syn
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