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JesusFdz

Philosophy Grad after low-tier college

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Hello everybody, I’m an active duty Marine, currently a junior in an online, for-profit, low-tier (still regionally accredited) college. I’m working towards my Bachelors in Philosophy and I would love to go on to pursue a graduate degree after the military. I’ll be graduating about six months before I leave the service. My GPA is 3.8 and I’ll have a total of 13 courses in philosophy. I’m worried about my chances of admission into any graduate program, the reason being my unusually weird background. The fact is very few veterans go for philosophy, and philosophy seems to be the kind of hard-knitted academic discipline to not have any flexibility whatsoever. I’m pursuing philosophy in the only way I know (my college is the only online affordable university which offers philosophy), but is that enough to compete against more traditional students? Assuming I keep a good gpa of 3.8/3.9, I get great GRE scores and a phenomenal writing sample, how bad is my non-academic background/low-tier online education going to affect my chances of admission? If you want any more information, I can provide it. Thank you!

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It'll hurt your application somewhat, only because it's not likely that your letters of recommendation will be written by anybody whose name carries much weight, to be frank. A sterling letter of recommendation from your CO, attesting to your work ethic, commitment to long-term projects, and intellectual aptitude, is likely to do you more good than a comparable letter from an online professor. 

However, being on active duty in the service is about the best reason one can possibly have for getting their degree from an online diploma mill. It's hard to imagine how this can be held against you, especially if you take care to discuss the point in your personal statement.

Even then, however, top-tier programs will want to see some evidence of successful work at a respected department before they admit you. So your best bet is to invest heavily in applying to terminal MAs: these are much more friendly to students who have nonstandard backgrounds, and they understand that many of their students are applying to terminal MA programs for the purpose of building their pedigree for future applications. 

Tufts has a long record of accepting students from the Army. These are commissioned officers posted to Tufts on active duty before being stationed as instructors at West Point, so their situation is a bit different from yours, but their experience with military students (who often were not undergraduate majors in philosophy, or are six-to-eight years out of school) is a point in your favor. Since Tufts is also the universally-acknowledged best terminal MA in the country, it should be very high on your list.

What is your MOS? It doesn't make a direct difference, but you're more likely to obtain a relevant letter if you work in a rear-echelon capacity than if you are a rifleman, simply because the work is more comparable to academic study. Again, though, being a grunt is about as good a reason to not have experience relevant to academic study as there is, so don't worry about this. 

Since you are only a junior: is there any possibility that you might be able to take night courses at a more well-regarded university during your enlistment? Even just auditing will help, since the important point is to build a relationship with someone who can write you a good letter. 

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45 minutes ago, Coconuts&Chloroform said:

It'll hurt your application somewhat, only because it's not likely that your letters of recommendation will be written by anybody whose name carries much weight, to be frank. A sterling letter of recommendation from your CO, attesting to your work ethic, commitment to long-term projects, and intellectual aptitude, is likely to do you more good than a comparable letter from an online professor. 

However, being on active duty in the service is about the best reason one can possibly have for getting their degree from an online diploma mill. It's hard to imagine how this can be held against you, especially if you take care to discuss the point in your personal statement.

Even then, however, top-tier programs will want to see some evidence of successful work at a respected department before they admit you. So your best bet is to invest heavily in applying to terminal MAs: these are much more friendly to students who have nonstandard backgrounds, and they understand that many of their students are applying to terminal MA programs for the purpose of building their pedigree for future applications. 

Tufts has a long record of accepting students from the Army. These are commissioned officers posted to Tufts on active duty before being stationed as instructors at West Point, so their situation is a bit different from yours, but their experience with military students (who often were not undergraduate majors in philosophy, or are six-to-eight years out of school) is a point in your favor. Since Tufts is also the universally-acknowledged best terminal MA in the country, it should be very high on your list.

What is your MOS? It doesn't make a direct difference, but you're more likely to obtain a relevant letter if you work in a rear-echelon capacity than if you are a rifleman, simply because the work is more comparable to academic study. Again, though, being a grunt is about as good a reason to not have experience relevant to academic study as there is, so don't worry about this. 

Since you are only a junior: is there any possibility that you might be able to take night courses at a more well-regarded university during your enlistment? Even just auditing will help, since the important point is to build a relationship with someone who can write you a good letter. 

Thank you very much for the response. I have spoken to some of the professors of my college and they say that they have seen previous students go on to graduate school and that it shouldn't be impossible and the like. I definitely plan on discussing my online education in my personal statement like you said, the closest traditional college around is 60 miles away and balancing work with that would be certainly impossible. I will acknowledge that my undergraduate education is not the best, but is my best attempt at pursuing philosophy. I had thought about applying to a terminal MA program, which seems to be the best fit considering my circumstances. Thanks to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, I won't have to worry too much about tuition and costs of attending one of these programs. My only concern is getting accepted. I have a feeling that for some reason they will look at my application and simply dismiss it on the grounds that "no serious philosophical pondering could be done in a military setting like the one I'm in". Trying to find "safety" schools has also been worthless, since it seems like all programs are extremely competitive.

Tufts is actually one of the programs I am considering, and its nice to now that they are somewhat military friendly. Other universities I have in mind are Fordham, Kent State, U Kentucky, USF, GSU, UWM, Brandeis, NIU, SIU, CUNY, ASU, Minnesota, Duquesne, Maryland, Brew, Oklahoma, BGSU, Dallas, Washington and UConn. I am mostly interested in logic, the foundations of mathematics, philosophy of mind, epistemology and metaphysics, so naturally I should be choosing more analytic programs. But again, I've come up with this list based on how likely I am to get accepted (from what I could gather, most of these programs are not as competitive as say NYU or Rutgers). 

To answer your question, my MOS is 2841 radio repairman. My background would be perfect for something like Electrical Engineering, since I deal with communications/electronics systems on a day to day basis. My job is very technical, and it comes with all the leadership skills acquired by being a marine (confidence, public speaking, quality control, low level management, etc.). Im also POG af, so yes, very rear-echelon. 

As for the night courses, like I mentioned the closest university with a philosophy degree is about 60 miles away. I am currently trying to find conferences and events I can attend, but as far as actual regular courses I think it would be rather implausible. However, I am considering switching to a higher regarded online degree, like the ones offered by ASU or UNC Greensboro. If you have any other recommendations on things I could do outside of my degree to prepare for admissions, please let me know.

By the way, I have a list of philosophy books I've read over the recent years and I wonder if that could have any impact. Right now I'm at about 15-20 works, and all of them are major works by a major philosopher. For example, I've read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Hegel's Phenomenology, and many more works by these two as well as William James, Wittgenstein, Sartre, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Mill, etc. Could this "reading list" act in my favor? I've noticed that many philosophy undergrads don't tackle the big works, whereas on my case I HAVE to read these works, otherwise I wouldn't know much about philosophy. 

Again, thank you very much for the advice.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, JesusFdz said:

Tufts is actually one of the programs I am considering, and its nice to now that they are somewhat military friendly. Other universities I have in mind are Fordham, Kent State, U Kentucky, USF, GSU, UWM, Brandeis, NIU, SIU, CUNY, ASU, Minnesota, Duquesne, Maryland, Brew, Oklahoma, BGSU, Dallas, Washington and UConn. I am mostly interested in logic, the foundations of mathematics, philosophy of mind, epistemology and metaphysics, so naturally I should be choosing more analytic programs. But again, I've come up with this list based on how likely I am to get accepted (from what I could gather, most of these programs are not as competitive as say NYU or Rutgers).

Honestly, I think you can narrow down your list quite a bit. If you go to any of the solid MA programs - Tufts, NIU, UWM, Brandeis, GSU (in roughly that order?) - you will have a solid shot, provided you perform well, at PGR top 10-20 programs. So, if I were you, I would probably just apply to the terminal MAs and maybe a couple of good but realistic PhD programs, and drop all of the lower-tier ones (BGSU, Washington, ASU, SIU, Kent State, etc.). (Not that those are necessarily bad programs.)

2 hours ago, JesusFdz said:

I have a feeling that for some reason they will look at my application and simply dismiss it on the grounds that "no serious philosophical pondering could be done in a military setting like the one I'm in".

This should definitely not be the case at any of the terminal MAs you're considering, especially not with a good sample and compelling personal statement.

2 hours ago, JesusFdz said:

By the way, I have a list of philosophy books I've read over the recent years and I wonder if that could have any impact. Right now I'm at about 15-20 works, and all of them are major works by a major philosopher. For example, I've read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Hegel's Phenomenology, and many more works by these two as well as William James, Wittgenstein, Sartre, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Mill, etc. Could this "reading list" act in my favor? I've noticed that many philosophy undergrads don't tackle the big works, whereas on my case I HAVE to read these works, otherwise I wouldn't know much about philosophy.

Your wide reading will definitely help you, but I wouldn't, like, attach your reading list to your application or anything. My advice would be to cite the relevant stuff in your sample, and say something modest but informative in your statement about your independent pursuit of philosophy.

I hope this is helpful - please keep in mind that, while I am in a good terminal MA program and thus have some insight into the process (what kinds of people get here, what my profs say, etc.), I have never been on an admissions committee. Good luck!!

Edited by philosopuppy

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This is mostly seconding what other people have said, but I wouldn't worry too much about being a "non-traditional" students. While there are certainly students who go straight from their BA to a PhD program, I know plenty of people who had more circuitous journeys to grad school. I don't think this should make too much of a difference regarding admissions and I often find that people who had a few years (or more) off before grad school are better off in terms of maturity, motivation, etc.

I do think the low-tier undergrad degree will make it hard to get into top PhD programs. The best route for you is almost certainly to pursue a funded terminal MA, after which you can reasonably apply to even top-tier programs (NYU and Rutgers will still be very tough to get into, but there's no reason, in principle, why a Tufts/NIU/Brandeis/UWM/etc MA can't compete for those spots). 

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I noticed the OP does not mention wanting to become a professor. If he is aiming for an academic position and wants to get into a top-tier Leiter type program then the advice given makes sense.

If the OP wants to go to grad school because he enjoys philosophy, is not intending to to go into academia etc then he can look at other MA programs. 

Just wanted to let him know that the Tufts, Brandeis, GS etc are not the only route to go for MA if one is not aiming for academia.

 

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I echo what others have said. A few additional notes:

- Some of the universities you mention are not analytic departments, or perhaps would be better termed as strong continental departments. So you might want to double-check your list and make sure you're applying for universities that you believe you have a solid chance of getting into and fit your interests.

- Coming from a very low-tier institution and in a very non-traditional setting (online), you're going to need to differentiate yourself even further from your competition. I know your schedule isn't very conducive to attending many conferences, but you might try to write some works for undergraduate journals. Here's a list: https://unl.libguides.com/c.php?g=51642&p=333917. There are also undergraduate conferences, but I'm betting you wouldn't have travel support, and so that might be expensive.

- Your writing sample is going to have to be extremely polished. Definitely take advantage of the folks we have here and in the Facebook group to have your writing sample peer reviewed.

- I think a terminal MA program is your best choice by far. You're going to need to prove your philosophical ability. That's not a bad thing. Programs like Tufts, as was mentioned, are amazing at placement. If you do want to get into a prestigious program, a terminal MA at such a program would go a long way toward that.

Good luck!

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19 hours ago, philosopuppy said:

Honestly, I think you can narrow down your list quite a bit. If you go to any of the solid MA programs - Tufts, NIU, UWM, Brandeis, GSU (in roughly that order?) - you will have a solid shot, provided you perform well, at PGR top 10-20 programs. So, if I were you, I would probably just apply to the terminal MAs and maybe a couple of good but realistic PhD programs, and drop all of the lower-tier ones (BGSU, Washington, ASU, SIU, Kent State, etc.). (Not that those are necessarily bad programs.)

This should definitely not be the case at any of the terminal MAs you're considering, especially not with a good sample and compelling personal statement.

Your wide reading will definitely help you, but I wouldn't, like, attach your reading list to your application or anything. My advice would be to cite the relevant stuff in your sample, and say something modest but informative in your statement about your independent pursuit of philosophy.

I hope this is helpful - please keep in mind that, while I am in a good terminal MA program and thus have some insight into the process (what kinds of people get here, what my profs say, etc.), I have never been on an admissions committee. Good luck!!

Again, thank you so much for the advice. The reason why I have included several lower-tier programs is because I really REALLY want to pursue graduate education in this field. Like UndergradDad mentioned, I love philosophy and of course, my dream is to become a professor in a highly challenging academic setting where I could do some hardcore research, etc. But the fact is I love philosophy, period. My number one goal is not academia, but philosophy. I enjoy reading it, studying it, writing it, teaching it, researching it, everything. So my biggest fear is to get denied the opportunity to further my studies, rather than not making it to the top. I actually think there is something wrong with the current model in academia, where students feel the need to be the best and climb to the top of a mountain in order to really enjoy philosophy. But I digress..

Of course, I would love to attend a better program just to have access to better education, but again, I'm in it for good and even the "lowest-tier" would leave me tremendously satisfied. Thank you for your advice and please comment on my opinions.

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6 hours ago, Glasperlenspieler said:

This is mostly seconding what other people have said, but I wouldn't worry too much about being a "non-traditional" students. While there are certainly students who go straight from their BA to a PhD program, I know plenty of people who had more circuitous journeys to grad school. I don't think this should make too much of a difference regarding admissions and I often find that people who had a few years (or more) off before grad school are better off in terms of maturity, motivation, etc.

I do think the low-tier undergrad degree will make it hard to get into top PhD programs. The best route for you is almost certainly to pursue a funded terminal MA, after which you can reasonably apply to even top-tier programs (NYU and Rutgers will still be very tough to get into, but there's no reason, in principle, why a Tufts/NIU/Brandeis/UWM/etc MA can't compete for those spots). 

Thanks for the reply. At this point, I will focus almost completely on MA programs, since making "the jump" from my low-tier undergrad degree to a PhD (any PhD apparently) seems impossible. With that being said, what is your advice on applying to said MA's? I've read that the process is still highly competitive, so again my background weighs heavy on my back. What are the chances? I hate being this naive, but analyzing these sorts of things in a sort of quantitative way has always given me comfort. What kind of schools would you recommend for me? The top-tier MA programs still seem way out of my reach. I would like to know the tier in which I realistically fall into, in order to make a better decision and accomplish something instead of dreaming and shooting for the starts without success. Again, thank you very much for the time.

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6 hours ago, UndergradDad said:

I noticed the OP does not mention wanting to become a professor. If he is aiming for an academic position and wants to get into a top-tier Leiter type program then the advice given makes sense.

If the OP wants to go to grad school because he enjoys philosophy, is not intending to to go into academia etc then he can look at other MA programs. 

Just wanted to let him know that the Tufts, Brandeis, GS etc are not the only route to go for MA if one is not aiming for academia.

 

You brought out an excellent point. Like I mentioned in my response to philosopuppy, an academic position would definitely make me feel incredibly accomplished. But it is not my only objective with pursuing philosophy. I will of course apply to some of the top MA programs with the hopes of getting accepted. But if this doesn't happen, I don't want my interest in philosophy to be stopped just because I wasn't one of the "best". What other MA programs are out there for people who don't necessarily need to fulfill the goal of academic excellence and professor emeritus status? It's hard to see when the Top 20-25 or so programs all claim to be extremely competitive (and apparently are!). Thank you so much for the response.

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6 hours ago, syn said:

I echo what others have said. A few additional notes:

- Some of the universities you mention are not analytic departments, or perhaps would be better termed as strong continental departments. So you might want to double-check your list and make sure you're applying for universities that you believe you have a solid chance of getting into and fit your interests.

- Coming from a very low-tier institution and in a very non-traditional setting (online), you're going to need to differentiate yourself even further from your competition. I know your schedule isn't very conducive to attending many conferences, but you might try to write some works for undergraduate journals. Here's a list: https://unl.libguides.com/c.php?g=51642&p=333917. There are also undergraduate conferences, but I'm betting you wouldn't have travel support, and so that might be expensive.

- Your writing sample is going to have to be extremely polished. Definitely take advantage of the folks we have here and in the Facebook group to have your writing sample peer reviewed.

- I think a terminal MA program is your best choice by far. You're going to need to prove your philosophical ability. That's not a bad thing. Programs like Tufts, as was mentioned, are amazing at placement. If you do want to get into a prestigious program, a terminal MA at such a program would go a long way toward that.

Good luck!

Thank you very much for the response. To be honest, I have much more experience with Continental Philosophy than Analytic. My recent interest in the Analytic tradition stems from reading about Gödel, Frege and Wittgenstein. I find the logicist project fascinating, and I am very interested in the foundations of mathematics and issues in language and philosophy of mind. Anyways, I will make up my mind 100% and choose a program that fits my interest, as suggested.

That is awesome advice on the journals. I didn't know there was such a thing as undergraduate journals, but I'll definitely start exploring that opportunity. Again, thank you very much for the support and the help, I'll be sure to utilize both the website and the Fb group in my advantage. 

Thank you!

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On 1/3/2020 at 5:49 PM, JesusFdz said:

Again, thank you so much for the advice. The reason why I have included several lower-tier programs is because I really REALLY want to pursue graduate education in this field. Like UndergradDad mentioned, I love philosophy and of course, my dream is to become a professor in a highly challenging academic setting where I could do some hardcore research, etc. But the fact is I love philosophy, period. My number one goal is not academia, but philosophy. I enjoy reading it, studying it, writing it, teaching it, researching it, everything. So my biggest fear is to get denied the opportunity to further my studies, rather than not making it to the top. I actually think there is something wrong with the current model in academia, where students feel the need to be the best and climb to the top of a mountain in order to really enjoy philosophy. But I digress..

Of course, I would love to attend a better program just to have access to better education, but again, I'm in it for good and even the "lowest-tier" would leave me tremendously satisfied. Thank you for your advice and please comment on my opinions.

This is totally reasonable and I feel pretty similarly. But remember that you can always re-apply the next year! So even if it did turn out that you were shooting too high or something, or you just got unlucky, you could apply to a different spread of programs the next cycle. My impression is that it is extremely common for people to have to do this at some point, since as you correctly point out things are really competitive.

On 1/3/2020 at 5:54 PM, JesusFdz said:

With that being said, what is your advice on applying to said MA's? I've read that the process is still highly competitive, so again my background weighs heavy on my back. What are the chances? I hate being this naive, but analyzing these sorts of things in a sort of quantitative way has always given me comfort. What kind of schools would you recommend for me? The top-tier MA programs still seem way out of my reach. I would like to know the tier in which I realistically fall into, in order to make a better decision and accomplish something instead of dreaming and shooting for the starts without success. Again, thank you very much for the time.

I don't think the top tier of MAs is out of your reach at all! Often the tough part is getting funding - at my program, for instance, there are only a few of us with philosophy TAships and everyone else has to figure something else out. But you don't need funding, so you don't even have to worry about that! The good MA programs are competitive, but less competitive (as far as I can tell) than the top PhD programs. And the pool of applicants will be different - it's not (for the most part, except maybe for Tufts) going to be people with BAs from Yale and NYU. It's going to be people from bad, mediocre, or just relatively unknown programs. That's a huge part of why MA programs in philosophy exist - to improve the "pedigree" of strong philosophy students who come from weak or lesser-known programs. At my MA program, which is one of the top ones I mentioned, there's like one person from a PGR bottom-ranked program, me from an unranked but listed program, and everyone else is from Southwest Such-and-such State or whatever.

On 1/3/2020 at 5:59 PM, JesusFdz said:

What other MA programs are out there for people who don't necessarily need to fulfill the goal of academic excellence and professor emeritus status?

Some other good ones that come to mind are Western Michigan, Simon Fraser, Houston, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, SFSU. But tbh there aren't that many good MA programs.

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I second everything @philosopuppy says about MA programs.

On 1/3/2020 at 5:49 PM, JesusFdz said:

Again, thank you so much for the advice. The reason why I have included several lower-tier programs is because I really REALLY want to pursue graduate education in this field. Like UndergradDad mentioned, I love philosophy and of course, my dream is to become a professor in a highly challenging academic setting where I could do some hardcore research, etc. But the fact is I love philosophy, period. My number one goal is not academia, but philosophy. I enjoy reading it, studying it, writing it, teaching it, researching it, everything. So my biggest fear is to get denied the opportunity to further my studies, rather than not making it to the top. I actually think there is something wrong with the current model in academia, where students feel the need to be the best and climb to the top of a mountain in order to really enjoy philosophy. But I digress..

Of course, I would love to attend a better program just to have access to better education, but again, I'm in it for good and even the "lowest-tier" would leave me tremendously satisfied. Thank you for your advice and please comment on my opinions.

Don't underestimate how attached you will become to the idea of an academic career over the course of a PhD program. The ecosystem of PhD programs acculturates you into thinking that a tenure track position is the only valid metric of success. This is bullshit but it's very hard to escape this way of thinking at a certain point in your graduate career. And once you become attached to an academic career, if you're in a program that doesn't actually set you up with high odds to attain one, it's a recipe for misery. So, even if you're convinced that it's the opportunity to study that you want and not merely a certain professional trajectory, it behooves you to attend the best PhD program you can. An MA is great way to enable you to do that. It also allows for an easy exit, if you decide academic philosophy isn't for you.

In general, I think it's wise to think about PhD programs in the humanities as a peculiar sort of vocational school, because that really is how they function and operate. I don't necessarily mean to endorse this model, but I think it's important to recognize that that's the way things are. I'm as attracted to the idea of the life of the mind as much as the next person. But the idea of it can be very different from the realities of university life. 

On 1/3/2020 at 5:59 PM, JesusFdz said:

It's hard to see when the Top 20-25 or so programs all claim to be extremely competitive (and apparently are!)

This doesn't begin to capture the way things are. When I applied to PhD programs the first time (the fall 2014 season), I got waitlisted at a school then ranked in the 40s. They received well over 200 applications and were looking to have a matriculating class of 6-8.

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On 1/4/2020 at 3:13 PM, philosopuppy said:

And the pool of applicants will be different - it's not (for the most part, except maybe for Tufts) going to be people with BAs from Yale and NYU. It's going to be people from bad, mediocre, or just relatively unknown programs. That's a huge part of why MA programs in philosophy exist - to improve the "pedigree" of strong philosophy students who come from weak or lesser-known programs. At my MA program, which is one of the top ones I mentioned, there's like one person from a PGR bottom-ranked program, me from an unranked but listed program, and everyone else is from Southwest Such-and-such State or whatever.

I think that this is going to depend greatly on the MA program. At my MA program (not Tufts), almost no one was from an unknown school. Most students had a degree in philosophy from at least a reasonably well-known public or private university, and a number of students had gone to top institutions--both top in terms of PGR and also in terms of overall US News rankings. There were also a few of us who had turned down ranked PhD offers to do the MA first (I was one). There were, of course, some students from relatively unknown schools, and several from non-philosophy backgrounds, but they were the exception rather than the rule.

This isn't to say that philosopuppy's general point is incorrect; I agree that MA programs are by-and-large less selective than top-50 PhD programs. However, the top MAs can still be quite selective depending on the program, and it's a good idea to apply to a spread of programs for that reason. Philosophy admissions can be very prestige-sensitive.

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On 1/2/2020 at 6:40 PM, JesusFdz said:

Tufts is actually one of the programs I am considering, and its nice to now that they are somewhat military friendly. Other universities I have in mind are Fordham, Kent State, U Kentucky, USF, GSU, UWM, Brandeis, NIU, SIU, CUNY, ASU, Minnesota, Duquesne, Maryland, Brew, Oklahoma, BGSU, Dallas, Washington and UConn. I am mostly interested in logic, the foundations of mathematics, philosophy of mind, epistemology and metaphysics, so naturally I should be choosing more analytic programs. But again, I've come up with this list based on how likely I am to get accepted (from what I could gather, most of these programs are not as competitive as say NYU or Rutgers). 

It sucks but pedigree in philosophy (or maybe in all grad programs) matters, but I think your strategy for aiming for MA programs is smart. Apply to all funded MA programs - U of Arkansas is good, Oklahoma state, U of Kansas (terminal MA). I would really stay away from paying for any MA program unless you can afford it without taking any loans. It is NOT WORTH IT. Def look at any programs placement record online, if none listed, then ask.

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On 1/2/2020 at 4:33 PM, JesusFdz said:

Hello everybody, I’m an active duty Marine, currently a junior in an online, for-profit, low-tier (still regionally accredited) college. I’m working towards my Bachelors in Philosophy and I would love to go on to pursue a graduate degree after the military. I’ll be graduating about six months before I leave the service. My GPA is 3.8 and I’ll have a total of 13 courses in philosophy. I’m worried about my chances of admission into any graduate program, the reason being my unusually weird background. The fact is very few veterans go for philosophy, and philosophy seems to be the kind of hard-knitted academic discipline to not have any flexibility whatsoever. I’m pursuing philosophy in the only way I know (my college is the only online affordable university which offers philosophy), but is that enough to compete against more traditional students? Assuming I keep a good gpa of 3.8/3.9, I get great GRE scores and a phenomenal writing sample, how bad is my non-academic background/low-tier online education going to affect my chances of admission? If you want any more information, I can provide it. Thank you!

I'm just now seeing this, but I have to strongly suggest that you add Texas Tech University to your list of terminal MA programs. Not only is it one of the MA programs consistently mentioned in the top 12 by the PGR, I can say that their funding package may not seem generous, but it actually is fine given their location in west Texas. The faculty is first-rate, and they are currently hiring for a position in M & E. The job candidates all have AOS in metaphysics, epistemology, or mind and graduated from places like NYU, Rutgers, U. Mich., UVA, Chicago. They  have also recently placed three people at Rutgers (I promise, go look at the current Rutgers grad students!) Last year, students also got offers from USC, UNC, UT, Ohio State, Northwestern, USCB, and more. Additionally, they consistently place people at top 30 schools. One thing to consider when looking at the placement record is that a significant amount of the students don't apply out because they have no interest in going further. The students that DO pursue PhD programs generally fare very well. Even better news for you...the deadline is FEB 15! I think you'd be a great fit for the program. I have some overlapping interests with you, and I've already gotten shortlisted for admission to WUSTL and UCSB (I applied out for PhD programs this year).

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So I just took the GRE and my scores are 163V, 159Q. Considering the conditions I mentioned above, do you think I have a chance at any of the decent MA programs? Both my Phil and overall GPA is 3.85.

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1 minute ago, JesusFdz said:

So I just took the GRE and my scores are 163V, 159Q. Considering the conditions I mentioned above, do you think I have a chance at any of the decent MA programs? Both my Phil and overall GPA is 3.85.

Yes. Definitely a chance.

Work on your writing sample.

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Thanks for the reply, one more question. I’ll be finishing my degree sooner than expected, so I’ll still have a couple of years in active duty (which means free Tuition Assistance without using the GI Bill). 
I was thinking about doing a masters degree (which would have to be online), and at first I thought there were no online masters in philosophy. I had decided to study a masters in economics, since I’d be able to finish it around the date of my separation from active duty. The plan was then to proceed to the MA or possibly PhD in philosophy, with the freedom of relocating anywhere I got accepted. 
However, I’ve seen a number of online MA programs in philosophy (mostly European universities, like Edinburg and Sunderland). Would it be beneficial for me to do one of these programs on active duty? I wouldn’t mind having to take a second masters in philosophy after (at an actual physical campus) if that’s what it took, but could one of these online programs boost my chances for admission into a good PhD?

 

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I'd probably say just go for one of the funded MA programs in the U.S., but be thinking about who will write your letters for these applications. If you wait for a long time, you run the risk that your instructors won't remember you.

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Thanks for the reply, I am thinking about doing a funded MA. My point was that for now (since I won't be able to relocate for another 2 years), would it be fruitful to get an online MA in philosophy instead of getting it in another subject? I will continue my education since it's free, but I want to know if the benefits from getting an online MA in philosophy would outweigh getting an online MA in another subject. If it would improve my chances of attending a funded MA once I am able to relocate or not, or if it would be better to make myself more marketable (with the horrible job market and all that) by getting a different degree and just waiting to relocate and do the funded MA on its own.

The ultimate goal is to get into a good PhD program in philosophy and a decent teaching job after that (nothing too fancy, just avoid food stamps and that sort).

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3 hours ago, JesusFdz said:

Thanks for the reply, I am thinking about doing a funded MA. My point was that for now (since I won't be able to relocate for another 2 years), would it be fruitful to get an online MA in philosophy instead of getting it in another subject? I will continue my education since it's free, but I want to know if the benefits from getting an online MA in philosophy would outweigh getting an online MA in another subject. If it would improve my chances of attending a funded MA once I am able to relocate or not, or if it would be better to make myself more marketable (with the horrible job market and all that) by getting a different degree and just waiting to relocate and do the funded MA on its own.

The ultimate goal is to get into a good PhD program in philosophy and a decent teaching job after that (nothing too fancy, just avoid food stamps and that sort).

So, I would say two things. Getting an online MA in philosophy and then another MA in philosophy could raise eyebrows. Also, some (many?) university's will not consider applicants who already possess that degree in the field for which they're applying. So you might inadvertently shoot yourself in the foot by trying to get a leg up. (Mixing clichéd metaphors is always recommended right????) So, no, I don't really think an online MA will help you get into an in-person funded MA in the same field. And while I think online instruction actually has some merits, I think you'll encounter a lot of snobbish attitudes about an online MA from faculty on admissions committees.

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