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what if after finishing an MA in philosophy, you don't want to pursue a PhD? Will there be other alternatives?


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Hi all,

We all know that the teaching positions for philosophy PhD graduates are extremely competitive, so it seems important to find something else you can make a living besides teaching philosophy, or just give up in the middle of the way. For example, it is possible that after finishing a two-year MA in philosophy, you find yourself cannot make the commitment of studying for 6 more years in philosophy. And it is important to know what you can do if you do not pursue a PhD after the MA.

I'm wondering if anyone can comment on what kind of jobs philosophy MA graduates can do, other than doing a PhD. Will they be welcomed by employers? Or do you think it is simply a bad idea to do an MA in philosophy, if you know in the first place you may not (but also may) do a PhD afterwards?

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I may not be the best person to answer this set of questions, as I do not have an MA, nor will I have a terminal MA, but I'll give it a shot.

With an MA in Philosophy, you can still teach philosophy, albeit at a community college. Some community colleges are better than others, and some actually host some productive, and tenured, philosophers (nb: these usually have a PhD).

However, I have a very close friend who decided, due to familial obligations, not to pursue a PhD in philosophy, even though this was his orignal plan once he received his MA in philosophy. Two things I can note from his experience: i) jobs - in general - are hard to come by, even for a masters student, and ii) he has had some traction with administrative work (e.g., working at the Medical University we have here). One other interesting tid-bit, my friend tells me that when he is interviewing for these non-academic jobs, that he doesn't go into very much detail about what he studied during his masters. Apparently, merely having the masters is enough to woo over some employers, provided that you don't spill the beans as to what specifically you studied (e.g., Brandomian semantics etc.). This way employers, given that you have a masters, are likely to attribute to you a certain high level of both skill and proficiency in their line of work, either of which may not correlate strongly with the title of your thesis.

Anyhow, I hope this helps. Good luck with your decision!

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  • 2 weeks later...

You can adjunct and teach general courses at many schools, not just community colleges. A community college is likely to be the only venue you stand a chance of landing an actual position. Otherwise, you will need to start over in something else.

If you only want to study philosophy to learn about yourself and stuff like that... I think it's great, but you probably can do that without getting an MA. You also can't trust that even if you excel in your MA program that you'll get into an PhD program that you'd want to... at least not with funding. It's a gamble.

So, probably only go for the MA if you think you have a reasonable interest in going further. Options at the MA level suck. And yes, I speak from experience.

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