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MA at top choice vs. Ph.D. at backup?


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(I posted this before in a different topic but didn't get any replies... since the situation might be sort of specific to philosophy I thought I'd repost here just for fun.)

So, while I wait for the rest of my rejection letters to roll in, I am faced with the following choice: I have been offered full funding for the Ph.D. philosophy program at a not-particularly-prestigious school to which I applied basically as a backup plan. Other pros of this place (henceforth School 1) include that it's a small department (i.e. lots of attention) that is highly specialized in almost exactly my area of interest.

School 2, predictably, is a much more prestigious place with a lot of famous people working there, a good fit for me academically, and put me on the waitlist with an acceptance to their M.A. program. The M.A. option would offer a little funding, and I promised myself I wouldn't do the M.A. thing because I don't want to go into debt to be treated like second string. But, all other things being equal, I would rather go to School 2.

So what do I do? Could I sign up for the M.A. for a year and then reapply for School 2's Ph.D. from within next year? Am I being silly to even consider turning down the only offer of full funding that I got?

Edited by eep
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I think School A sounds amazing. Honestly. As you said, it is a small department with more opportunities for you to shine as a TA and interact closely with the faculty, AND it specializes in exactly what you are interested in.

Just think about it this way: what if you did not get that waitlist for an MA programme. You would be pretty happy with School A AND full funding it provides, right? Choice really doesn't help sometimes.

It is a tough decision. I am not in Philosophy so maybe I don't know what I am talking about. rolleyes.gif

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  • 3 months later...

I'm fairly new to this process but one thing I've heard over and over is that you take a PhD offer over anything else. The funding and other pros that you mentioned sweeten the deal even more.

I suppose the only question left is how much of a "backup" this school was rankings-wise?

Edited by ilovephilosophy
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