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You don't need your advisor's blessing or LOR to get into a PhD program. Apply. 

 

I would be strongly interested to see what you are basing this on. Not having a LoR from your advisor or second reader from your MA will be a huge, huge red flag in any application. 

 

I'm not merely blaming my advisor for all of my problems. Please don't think that. I admit that I was angry several days ago, but my main argument is that the reason I performed so poorly was partly due to the conditions (e.g., bad advisor-student relationship, working through personal problems, etc). I know myself well enough to know that I have done better work in an anxiety-free environment and it has paid off. So, if the conditions had been different in my MA, I would have done much better.

 

The bolded part worries me. A PhD program, and the rest of your academic life beyond that, are likely going to be high anxiety environments. They're kind of known for being anxiety inducing. 

 

The conditions you mention (non-directive advisor, personal problems) seem to be things that are likely to exist in a PhD program. I would say more PhD advisors in the humanities are hands-off than not. Most of my friends have advisors that pretty much sound like your MA advisor. And from what I gather, you've made progress on your personal problems, but that doesn't mean you won't be working through them, or similar issues, in the next 7-10 years. 

 

To build on St. Andrew's post, what you will do in an idealized scenario isn't what matters, it's what you will be able to accomplish in amongst all the pressures and stresses of a busy and packed academic environment. It's what you can do when you have 15 hours of work that need to be done every day, and 10 hours to do them in. Succeeding in a graduate program, and then in a TT position, is about time and stress management as much as it is about the scholarship. I don't know a single person who isn't heavily overloaded. 

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1000Plateaus, I am very sorry that you are in this painful situation. It is very difficult to hear unfavorable assessment of your abilities and to realize the implications of having a unfavorable revi

Do NOT under any circumstance email potential advisers and "explain the situation to them". This is the worst advice I've ever heard. You're supposed to explain that you bombed your master's thesis an

First, I want to say that you're confusing bluntness with hostility. I don't mean you any ill will but I am being very blunt and honest with you, as I am with everyone else I know in graduate school o

I had a somewhat similar start to my master's experience- my adviser was used to incredibly motivated, knowledgeable PhD students, and I was switching into the field with minimal background. I also picked a ridiculously ambitious thesis project, which in retrospect, wasn't the smartest idea :-). Most of my first drafts to my adviser were met with "you have no idea how to write an introduction" or along those lines- with some general feedback on how to improve and restructure things. There were definitely times where I was frustrated and overwhelmed. I bombed my thesis proposal, since I had no idea what I was getting into (aka nobody told me there was an oral defense part to it! Oopsies).

 

However, I think the key is how you react to that situation- as a graduate student, you are expected to basically be a proactive student who does everything they can do to succeed. After the bombed proposal, I spent a long time researching theses/dissertations and practiced doing the oral responses. I learned that everything in my proposal was MINE- for example, if my adviser suggested I do something or add something to the rationale, I better not do it unless I understood why, because once it was in there, I had ownership of it and I was responsible for it. I checked out some copies of theses from the library on somewhat related topics to mine. I asked my adviser to send me past theses in the lab so that I could read through them and get better at formatting and structure. I made sure to sit in on other people's defenses. While sometimes my first drafts weren't great, I always took great care that my second drafts were close to perfect. I became a better writer, and I aced my thesis defense with minimal changes. Most importantly, I learned things like: what questions to ask; when I should become resourceful and figure something out myself; and when I should use my personal judgement over my adviser's.

 

The main takeaway from reading your threads is that you felt like you needed more guidance and help, and let yourself crumble under the confusion and pressure. True, your adviser should advise you, but it's much more like 70-30 you-adviser. Your adviser shouldn't write your thesis. Your adviser isn't always right, and your adviser doesn't know all. I feel like you missed the point in the "crumble down and build up" process where you pull yourself together and grow into your own proactive, resourceful researcher, who uses resources around them- even if that doesn't include a helpful adviser.

 

I'd also suggest taking some time off and re-evaluating. Back in the day, I spent a few sessions with people who specialize in helping people figure out their best careers (I guess they are psychologists? I don't remember, sadly). They do lots of exercises such as personality tests, card sorting tests (ex. things you're good at, things you love, things you hate) and really work with you to problem solve the best career path for you. While it sounds a little silly, it really helps you step back and think about what characteristics/variables of a career are important to you. While research rocks, academia is not for everyone- and there are definitely career choices just as awesome with characteristics you might prefer or perform better under. Just my two cents!

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You are over thinking this. If you want to apply to a PhD program - simply apply. 

 

Applying without a letter of recommendation from one's advisor is a huge red flag, as mentioned. Not having a letter from the other reader is, again, not a good sign. It takes more than just wanting it to be successful, and your advice here is simply unhelpful. This situation does require some thinking and some planning. First to figure out if applying to grad school is a good idea at all, and second to devise a plan to make it happen, if the OP decides that it is. 

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It is all vert frustrating. I've been thinking it over the past several days, and it does seems like I did 'miss the point', if that's the way to put it. I ought to have been more proactive and assertive, but the downward spiral and pressure of the work got to me, and it was difficult for me to handle it.

 

Anxiety is something that I'm dealing with in other aspects of my life too, not simply in academia. So it's an on-going process to try to manage it better. I realize PhD programs are designed for candidates to be independent researchers, I just needed a 'smoother' transition in my MA. I'm not saying that I wanted my advisor to hold me by the hand, so to speak, but that just being able to better communicate with him would have done wonders to ease my anxieties.

 

But that's all in the past. I do have to take time and think about whether or not doing a PhD is right for me. If the answer is 'yes', then the difficulty will be: 1) getting professional philosophers to write on my behalf; and 2) getting accepted to a PhD program despite the hinderance/red flag of not having LOR from my MA advisory committee.

In a sense, I royally fucked up.

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You have to realize that everything is a lesson learned. You can come back like this, just like you could have come back at any point during your master's program. You didn't then, but it's done- so do it now. Take a few days to wallow and feel bad for yourself, then get your sh*t together and start developing  plan. Figure out exactly what went wrong and what you need to fix, then do things that show those things are fixed, for example, getting publications. Perhaps in a few weeks, maturely approach your committee members (without the pressure of asking for a LOR) and discuss what you think went wrong and what you've been doing to fix it, and if they have any other advice for how to become the researcher you want to be. Perhaps even rewrite your chapter 3 to show the second committee member that you're serious about learning. Talk to people about other career options that might fit you better than the horrible stress of academia- the stress of a PhD program is just the start of a lifetime of stress, frankly. 

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Interesting thread,

 

I am very sorry to hear of your very negative experiences.  I for one would not push him for an LoR.  I would actually go to your second reader for their advice.  You can go to tell them your situation honestly (if you trust them) and get their feedback on what your future should entail.  IF you are truly motivated to become a PhD student, then I think they will recommend that you build up your CV.  Perhaps another MA program attached to a PhD program at a prestigious university?  A year off working, presenting at conferences, and preparing for the next application cycle?  I am really not sure.  I would speak with a faculty member you absolutely trust.

 

I also think there is a problem somewhere else.  Several people here have mentioned that their advisors had told them they were too "ambitious" or that they were getting in for too much, saw someone else say that they were told they didn't know how to write an introduction.  This is concerning (but not surprising) because it seems to speak to a declining quality of education academy entirely.  If a person can't write something like an introduction they probably shouldn't be in a PhD program.  This shows that their undergraduate and/or MA program have failed to address the basics of academic writing.  I remember when my classmate and I were meeting with our advisor and he suggested that my classmate 'learn how to write' from me.  I was shocked that as a second year graduate student my classmate wasn't able to write a quality paper - he was my senior!  It is possible that it this time you don't possess some of the skills needed to get in and if you do get into a program, there is no guarantee you will be a solid candidate for a job when you are done.  I remember when I was applying and speaking with faculty about not getting in anywhere they provided me with a number of alternatives of things I could do to better myself for reapply the following year.   

 

Also, ask what you have done wrong and have the explicitly explain how you can learn from it.  What you could have done better.  What you need to work on.  Are you approaching your topic too subjectively?  I suspect a great many graduate students approach a topic with an agenda rather than going into a project open minded and when this happens, the results and quality of the writing suck.  Do you have a sound understanding of the theories you are referencing?  Are these literatures important and relevant?  These are thins I would ask.

 

Most importantly, don't give up (if this is really your dream)!  Don't be discouraged and just keep at it.  

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Also, have you emailed any professors at programs you wish to attend?  Explain to them your situation and I am sure some of them will be supportive.  I can't possibly imagine anyone being admitted to a PhD program without some degree of contact with some of the professors beforehand.  Definitely contact some of them to get their opinions too!

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Interesting thread,

 

I am very sorry to hear of your very negative experiences.  I for one would not push him for an LoR.  I would actually go to your second reader for their advice.  You can go to tell them your situation honestly (if you trust them) and get their feedback on what your future should entail.  IF you are truly motivated to become a PhD student, then I think they will recommend that you build up your CV.  Perhaps another MA program attached to a PhD program at a prestigious university?  A year off working, presenting at conferences, and preparing for the next application cycle?  I am really not sure.  I would speak with a faculty member you absolutely trust.

 

I also think there is a problem somewhere else.  Several people here have mentioned that their advisors had told them they were too "ambitious" or that they were getting in for too much, saw someone else say that they were told they didn't know how to write an introduction.  This is concerning (but not surprising) because it seems to speak to a declining quality of education academy entirely.  If a person can't write something like an introduction they probably shouldn't be in a PhD program.  This shows that their undergraduate and/or MA program have failed to address the basics of academic writing.  I remember when my classmate and I were meeting with our advisor and he suggested that my classmate 'learn how to write' from me.  I was shocked that as a second year graduate student my classmate wasn't able to write a quality paper - he was my senior!  It is possible that it this time you don't possess some of the skills needed to get in and if you do get into a program, there is no guarantee you will be a solid candidate for a job when you are done.  I remember when I was applying and speaking with faculty about not getting in anywhere they provided me with a number of alternatives of things I could do to better myself for reapply the following year.   

 

Also, ask what you have done wrong and have the explicitly explain how you can learn from it.  What you could have done better.  What you need to work on.  Are you approaching your topic too subjectively?  I suspect a great many graduate students approach a topic with an agenda rather than going into a project open minded and when this happens, the results and quality of the writing suck.  Do you have a sound understanding of the theories you are referencing?  Are these literatures important and relevant?  These are thins I would ask.

 

Most importantly, don't give up (if this is really your dream)!  Don't be discouraged and just keep at it.  

 

In regard to your second paragraph:

I was the one who struggled to write an introduction to my thesis- I was in a master's program, and new to the field. Writing a massive thesis introduction is not easy, and not something that many people have experienced before graduate school (introduction for papers or proposals are much different). In fact, my adviser told me I was an excellent writer- when it came to writing manuscripts and proposals. Theses, on the other hand, are a much different process. They involve different scope, and a different type of writing. And my adviser and I talked about the introduction and how to improve it- it's not like I sent it out to my thesis committee while it was crappy. Learning these sorts of things are exactly what grad school is for- but you have to proactively show improvement.

 

Also, there is a concept of "too ambitious" for a thesis, and it should stay- theses are often completed on incredibly tight timelines. I feel like faculty don't mind the student doing something ambitious in general- but what is appropriate for a thesis may be a different story.

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Yes, if I do choose to continue, I need to address the main problems both within my MA program (bad advisor, etc) and myself (not proactive enough). I have been thinking through all of this every single day for the past 2 weeks or so. I'm determined and ready to learn from my mistakes, improve myself, and move forward.

 

But what really does deter me is that if I cannot get LOR from anyone on my committee, then the chances of my PhD application being successful is low. I need to attend more conferences, try to get articles published and boost my CV. And that's another thing, in grad school you're supposed to learn the ropes of how to get something published. Typically, if a course essay is good enough, a professor will encourage you to send it to journals and try to get it published. And again, students need to be proactive and take the initiative to learn what goes into a publishable paper. I didn't do this, sadly. So without an advisor's guidance and informative suggestions, my work becomes that much more difficult. I would need to learn the ins and outs of publishing on my own.

 

It has been a huge learning experience. If I do decide to continue with academia, then I need to network and get a lot of allies/ supportive professors on my side. shockwave, you mentioned that perhaps I could try contacting Departments that I want to apply for and explain my situation to professors, but will they be able to do anything? I'd imagine they would simply say that I apply like anyone else and see what happens. 

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"But what really does deter me is that if I cannot get LOR from anyone on my committee, then the chances of my PhD application being successful is low".

 

 

First, how would anyone reading your LOR know that you could not get an LOR from any of your committee members? Secondly, how important are LORs anyway. Probably, not important at all. Do you think an admission committee member has ever read a bad LOR in an application package? No never, because LOR are all the same. Everyone writes and submits the same letter... John Smith is the best candidate for admission that ever existed. LOR are all BS..

 

Life is too short to let someone's opinion of your worth/value/intelligence deter you from going after your dreams. You seem like you are buying into the professor's assessment of your abilities. Stop.  Do what you want and worry less. Just Do It.

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"But what really does deter me is that if I cannot get LOR from anyone on my committee, then the chances of my PhD application being successful is low".

 

 

First, how would anyone reading your LOR know that you could not get an LOR from any of your committee members? Secondly, how important are LORs anyway. Probably, not important at all. Do you think an admission committee member has ever read a bad LOR in an application package? No never, because LOR are all the same. Everyone writes and submits the same letter... John Smith is the best candidate for admission that ever existed. LOR are all BS..

 

Life is too short to let someone's opinion of your worth/value/intelligence deter you from going after your dreams. You seem like you are buying into the professor's assessment of your abilities. Stop.  Do what you want and worry less. Just Do It.

 

Yes, if I do choose to continue, I need to address the main problems both within my MA program (bad advisor, etc) and myself (not proactive enough). I have been thinking through all of this every single day for the past 2 weeks or so. I'm determined and ready to learn from my mistakes, improve myself, and move forward.

 

But what really does deter me is that if I cannot get LOR from anyone on my committee, then the chances of my PhD application being successful is low. I need to attend more conferences, try to get articles published and boost my CV. And that's another thing, in grad school you're supposed to learn the ropes of how to get something published. Typically, if a course essay is good enough, a professor will encourage you to send it to journals and try to get it published. And again, students need to be proactive and take the initiative to learn what goes into a publishable paper. I didn't do this, sadly. So without an advisor's guidance and informative suggestions, my work becomes that much more difficult. I would need to learn the ins and outs of publishing on my own.

 

It has been a huge learning experience. If I do decide to continue with academia, then I need to network and get a lot of allies/ supportive professors on my side. shockwave, you mentioned that perhaps I could try contacting Departments that I want to apply for and explain my situation to professors, but will they be able to do anything? I'd imagine they would simply say that I apply like anyone else and see what happens. 

 

Do NOT under any circumstance email potential advisers and "explain the situation to them". This is the worst advice I've ever heard. You're supposed to explain that you bombed your master's thesis and nobody you interacted with over 3 years will write you a LOR, and they are supposed to be impressed and go out on a branch to try to get you into their program? .... No. Just no.

 

Secondly, LORs DO matter. They matter a lot. Bad/neutral LORs are certainly submitted. It is incredibly easy to tell when a professor is just doing their duty and when the professor genuinely believes in a student. The former is NOT a good reflection on an applicant, and is basically the equivalent of writing a bad LOR. No professor wants to write a glowing LOR of someone who will enter a program and not be able to handle it- it reflects badly on them.

 

For the record, I successfully went through an application cycle for my master's, then again for my PhD. As a grad student, I also coordinated the master's application process at my last program. I've also been involved in multiple labs and saw the application process from within them. Career-wise, I also applied (and received) jobs offers before my graduate career, and I was involved in hiring my replacement at my last research job. I've seen a lot of job/graduate school applications, interviewed a lot of people, and I've had a lot of conversations about students/faculty/bosses about the process.  While fields may have different application processes, there are some things you should never do- whether it's applying for grad school or a job. I strongly suggest you do not take the above advice.

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I'm probably much older than anyone on this forum. I've held and hold lots of executive level positions and just reached ABD status after two half years of course work at a pretty prestigious university. This is one thing I know -  

 

 

Life is too short to let someone's opinion of your worth/value/intelligence deter you from going after your dreams. You seem like you are buying into the professor's assessment of your abilities. Stop.  Do what you want and worry less. Just Do It.

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I'm probably much older than anyone on this forum. I've held and hold lots of executive level positions and just reached ABD status after two half years of course work at a pretty prestigious university. This is one thing I know -  

 

 

Life is too short to let someone's opinion of your worth/value/intelligence deter you from going after your dreams. You seem like you are buying into the professor's assessment of your abilities. Stop.  Do what you want and worry less. Just Do It.

 

I agree with your statement- however, I'm just saying that there are certain things you need to get to your dreams (aka admission to a PhD program). LORs is one of those. Take 1-2 years off, make new connections, volunteer with other researchers/profs, get publications, work with the old committee to give you advice and show you have grown and improved- telling them to just apply now with bad/no LORs just doesn't make sense.

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First, how would anyone reading your LOR know that you could not get an LOR from any of your committee members? Secondly, how important are LORs anyway. Probably, not important at all. Do you think an admission committee member has ever read a bad LOR in an application package? No never, because LOR are all the same. Everyone writes and submits the same letter... John Smith is the best candidate for admission that ever existed. LOR are all BS..

 

First, they will know you couldn't get a LOR from any of your committee members because they expect you to submit them and if you don't, they will assume it's because you couldn't get them. Not having a LOR from your advisor is a huge red flag. Not having a letter from any committee member is even worse. 

 

Second, LORs ARE important. They are one of the most important parts of the application. It's where you show that other professors have faith in your ability to succeed. LORs are crucial when you apply for grad school, when you apply for jobs, when you are up for tenure -- at various stages of your academic career. You can't make it without your supervisors' (and later, peers') support. 

 

Third, bad LORs exist (read some more on the grad cafe, specifically in the letters of recommendation forum, if you don't believe that). Letters can be outright negative or just dry and not glowing. Or, they can be of the "did well in class" variety, which the OP may have to get if they can't get the people who saw their research to write a letter. 

 

I agree with the advice to not let others stop you from going after your dream, but the stubborn head-on approach isn't always the smartest. Sometimes you have to take a more indirect route because the otherwise better way to go contains impassable obstacles for you. 

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Right, this is why directly applying to PhD programs with LOR from non-committee members is going to be a gamble. There are other means of getting to programs, but they would require some out of the box methods on my part.

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First, they will know you couldn't get a LOR from any of your committee members because they expect you to submit them and if you don't, they will assume it's because you couldn't get them. Not having a LOR from your advisor is a huge red flag. Not having a letter from any committee member is even worse. 

 

Second, LORs ARE important. They are one of the most important parts of the application. It's where you show that other professors have faith in your ability to succeed. LORs are crucial when you apply for grad school, when you apply for jobs, when you are up for tenure -- at various stages of your academic career. You can't make it without your supervisors' (and later, peers') support. 

 

Third, bad LORs exist (read some more on the grad cafe, specifically in the letters of recommendation forum, if you don't believe that). Letters can be outright negative or just dry and not glowing. Or, they can be of the "did well in class" variety, which the OP may have to get if they can't get the people who saw their research to write a letter. 

 

I agree with the advice to not let others stop you from going after your dream, but the stubborn head-on approach isn't always the smartest. Sometimes you have to take a more indirect route because the otherwise better way to go contains impassable obstacles for you. 

 

This is exactly what I was trying to say- but fuzzylogician said it much more eloquently :-D

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Also, at least at my university, committee members were listed on the transcript, along with thesis title. 

 

It would be exceptionally easy to cross-reference. 

 

I would argue that LoRs are often one of the most important parts of an application, especially for grad school. A mediocre letter just says the candidate is great. A good letter discusses strengths and particular examples of why the student is cut out for grad school. The latter kind of letter will get a great deal of attention, as it's a direct assessment (from someone who knows) that the student will do well in grad school, and will continue to be a productive member of the field. 

 

Also, not sure what age or executive positions have to do with the worth of LoRs for academic positions. And several of us commenting in this thread are ABD at prestigious universities. 

 

You are still not giving any backing for why (a) not having an LoR from your committee/advisor won't be a problem, or (B) why LoRs aren't worth much in an application. 

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Thank you all for the feedback. Your input has both informed my thinking and helped me through this very stressful crisis. It's never easy trying to re-evaluate your life goals.

 

At the end of the day, philosophy is my passion. I will figure something out.

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Do you think an admission committee member has ever read a bad LOR in an application package? No never, because LOR are all the same.

 

Yes, in fact, bad letters do exist, and they can be detrimental to one's application. I personally read a really bad LOR, where the writer literally said that they did not recommend that applicant and that they felt like the applicant would be overwhelmed in the program. It's obviously a relatively rare occurrence, but it happens. A letter like that would certainly kill even the best application.

 

Life is too short to let someone's opinion of your worth/value/intelligence deter you from going after your dreams. You seem like you are buying into the professor's assessment of your abilities. Stop.  Do what you want and worry less. Just Do It.

 

I think the OP has made it very clear that they are not letting their adviser stop them from pursuing their dreams. They know that this is what they want to do and aren't going to let anyone stop them. However, "just doing it" is easier said than done. I think the OP is seeking out the best path to what they want and trying to determine what is the best way to accomplish their goals. It's not as easy as just getting a PhD.

 

 

1000Plateaus, you've gotten some really good responses, so I won't rehash all of those in another post. It seems like you've listened to all of it, and only you can decide what is the best way to move forward from here. Best of luck, and I hope it all works out for you in the end :)

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Yes, if I do choose to continue, I need to address the main problems both within my MA program (bad advisor, etc) and myself (not proactive enough). I have been thinking through all of this every single day for the past 2 weeks or so. I'm determined and ready to learn from my mistakes, improve myself, and move forward.

 

But what really does deter me is that if I cannot get LOR from anyone on my committee, then the chances of my PhD application being successful is low. I need to attend more conferences, try to get articles published and boost my CV. And that's another thing, in grad school you're supposed to learn the ropes of how to get something published. Typically, if a course essay is good enough, a professor will encourage you to send it to journals and try to get it published. And again, students need to be proactive and take the initiative to learn what goes into a publishable paper. I didn't do this, sadly. So without an advisor's guidance and informative suggestions, my work becomes that much more difficult. I would need to learn the ins and outs of publishing on my own.

 

It has been a huge learning experience. If I do decide to continue with academia, then I need to network and get a lot of allies/ supportive professors on my side. shockwave, you mentioned that perhaps I could try contacting Departments that I want to apply for and explain my situation to professors, but will they be able to do anything? I'd imagine they would simply say that I apply like anyone else and see what happens. 

 

I would absolutely recommend you contact some people you want to work with at potential schools.  Explain your situation, send out dozens, if not hundreds of emails of people you want to work with in some caliber and get their feedback.  Maybe you will be surprised that some of them or incredibly supportive of your work ad give you some excellent advice.

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I would absolutely recommend you contact some people you want to work with at potential schools.  Explain your situation, send out dozens, if not hundreds of emails of people you want to work with in some caliber and get their feedback.  Maybe you will be surprised that some of them or incredibly supportive of your work ad give you some excellent advice.

 

Be VERY careful with this advice. I'm not sure what is meant here by contacting potential advisors to "explain your situation" but I don't see any good coming of trying to explain that you didn't do well on your thesis (with or without blaming your advisor) and that you don't have LORs from your advisor or other reader, but you still want to go into a PhD program. Any kind of "explanation" about how the advisor wasn't supportive is going to seem like an excuse and will not help. It may even get back to the advisor and actively hurt you. Why would a stranger go out of their way to help someone who in their present state couldn't even get the support of the people who know them? Much stronger applicants get rejected from programs all the time. You should be thinking about getting the support of professors who already know you before you start contacting others. The other reader sounds like the best bet, but maybe there is some other professor you have a relationship with. Seriously, don't send out "dozens, if not hundreds" of emails until you have worked on improving your application, or you may just burn bridges. 

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Man, there's some trainwreck advice being given out here. Listen, there are lots of reasons why you should be worried about the rec letter situation. Some schools actually require that you list the person's relationship to you when writing down who they will get letters from. So, it will be a red flag for them if you never write "advisor". Also, faculty know each other and they talk. Don't think someone you're applying to work with won't pick up the phone and call someone they know in their program (rec letter writer or not) to ask about you.  I've said this many, many times on here over the years but, when I applied to PhD programs, one of my rec letter writers got multiple phone calls from my POIs asking for additional information about me, to follow up on stuff in the letter, etc. That rec letter writer knew about two of my admissions before I did and even warned me that one of my POIs was going to call! So do not underestimate or doubt the amount of talk that goes on.*

 

Were I you, I'd think very seriously about pursuing this path. Take some time off to really consider your options and lay the groundwork for pursuing the PhD. Maybe you need to take additional MA classes so you can get better letters and write a strong writing sample. Maybe in doing so you'll regain the confidence of those you've already worked with. But just forging ahead now seems like a recipe for disaster.

 

 

*And please, don't tell me this shouldn't happen because of FERPA. Because it happens anyway and good luck finding a way to bring a lawsuit if you ever find out.

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I will be taking time off, that's a sure thing. I do understand the severity of not having LOR from my advisor or 2nd reader, and so if I do eventually decide to pursue a PhD degree, I need to lay down the groundwork, and plan it very carefully. It's something that will require a year or so of hard work and networking.

 

It's very discouraging. It would be all too easy for me to quit my dreams of getting a PhD and just work dead-end office jobs. Right now, the thought of doing anything else besides a PhD in philosophy doesn't seem appealing or satisfying in the least. Philosophy is something I love, but my recent experiences has left me feeling rather apathetic. From my perspective, if I do choose to continue, it'll be an uphill battle.

 

I had my heart set on a PhD in philosophy. I have devoted the past 3-4 years of my life, getting contacts through conferences and peers, I have been building myself into the role of 'grad student', and now there is this giant roadblock in my way. The prospects of submitting a successful PhD application without any LOR from my MA committee is very slim, and unless I balance that out with an outstanding CV, my chances are next to nil.

 

All of this has made me realize that Grad school is full of petty politics, and that you have to learn how to 'play the game' to be successful at it. I just want to be a philosopher (I realize how pretentious that sounds..), write articles and books, teach classes, enlighten students, etc.

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