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Film Undergrad with vain hopes for Philosophy MA/Phd


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Greetings Gradcafe Community,


I am in a ridiculous predicament regarding my education and have resorted to reaching out to this community for advice.


I am an undergraduate student at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. I am set to graduate next quarter (June 2013) with an emphasis in screenwriting. The film program is a two year upper-division program and until this past quarter I was able to kid myself into thinking I actually enjoyed this major and wanted to pursue a career in the film industry; I do not.


I have set my sights on graduate education in philosophy with an end goal of professorship. This was no arbitrary decision. I am intensely interested in philosophy. That does not even do it justice. I am never-endingly consumed by philosophy and spend all the time I can reading the canons of philosophy and conducting my own writing.


The problem is that not only am I not a philosophy student, I’ve never even taken a philosophy class (though I am set to take two during my final quarter). The implications are plain as day – nowhere to turn for recommendation letters and nothing that would stand out in the academic portion of my application as even remotely indicative of philosophical interest.


I cannot even describe my elation when I found out I was accepted into UCLA’s film school (2% acceptance rate for transfers like myself). But the joke was on me as I discovered rather too late how much I disliked the program and the entertainment industry in general. Now I am sure of something I would like to pursue in life but find myself ironically ill-prepared.


What should I do?


Delay my graduation and stay on for a philosophy minor? (not sure if it’s possible at this point but willing to look into it)


Are there such things as post-bac programs in philosophy?


Should I scramble for recommendation letters in the philosophy courses I’ll be taking next quarter (intro level classes - only ones I could get into - hardly impressive) and apply with what I’ve got?


Let me also add that I am not in a terrible rush nor am I insistent upon gaining admission to top-tier institutions (let’s get real, you’re all light-years ahead of me in this game). If you have any crazy ideas for how I might make myself competitive, by all means, throw them out. Likewise, if you think these hopes should be dashed at once, tell me. You’re the ones who have been diligently preparing for what I’ve just now realized I’d like to pursue.


Thank you for your help and best of luck to all of you in your academic endeavors.


- Jacob

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UCLA's got a strong philosophy program.  Is it possible to audit courses?  Maybe take some as a non-degree student after you graduate?  If you can delay your graduation, and have the money sufficient to do so, then take the minor.  A minor with some serious coursework in philosophy (I'm thinking courses in contemporary metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, as well as an ancient philosophy course and modern philosophy course) and with solid recommendations to complement it, could get you into a M.A. program.  Also, have you looked into philosophy of art?  You say you're not enamored with the film profession, but maybe you'd like checking out neat sub-areas like philosophy of film.  Or philosophy of art more broadly. That's an area in which you're qualified to check out.  And I'm not saying to misrepresent yourself, but in your applications to graduate school, if you DO have a genuine interest in philosophy of art and its subfields, then your transition to philosophy may 'make more sense' to admissions committees.  Something to keep in mind. 


It's funny you've majored in screenwriting and want to switch to philosophy.  I'm a philosophy major that's interested in screenwriting and perhaps someday trying to make a sale. I'm working on a screenplay right now, but for all intents and purposes, I still aim to attend grad school for philosophy.  That said, screenwriting is a hobby I've been trying to self-learn and cultivate.  I'd be interested in hearing more about your experiences with the film industry, but if you're so inclined, this could be done in a PM, as it's not relevant to this thread.


Also - I don't suggest asking for recommendations from professors of intro classes.  The work required for those types of courses is not the work that's required of an advanced philosophy major, and that's the type of work that admissions committees want your recommending professors to be familiar with.  So again, I'd say do your best to go for the minor if it's financially feasible.  Get a couple letters from professors in upper-level undergraduate courses.  I don't think letters from intro professors will be worth much.  One more thing.  While I don't think it's the best idea, maybe ask for a recommendation from a film professor.  At the very least, they can comment on the quality of your work and you as a person better than your new philosophy professor can.  Or so I'd think.

Edited by Philosopath
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It may be very helpful to you to delay your graduation and get the required coursework.  The likelihood of getting an admission to a PhD program with only two into classes would be very low.  PhD coursework is far more demanding than upper level philosophy courses, so they are looking for proof that you have succeeded in that atmosphere. 


You may be able to gain admission to a MA program, though many of the funded, terminal MA's are just as competitive as PhD programs.  Either way, I would highly recommend an MA program for you since it will boost your coursework and give you a window into professional philosophy.


Like philosopath said, framing your interests around Aesthetics and art would make your undergrad degree more relevant, but without those upper level courses, you are at a severe disadvantage.

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