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Kantian28
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I applied to 8 of the top Philosophy doctoral programs in the US and got rejected by all of them.

Since then, I've submitted some applications to MA programs. I hope that being part of a well-recognized MA program in the field will boost my chances for admission next year.

My undergraduate GPA overall was 3.26, while my GPA in Philosophy was 3.67. My GREs were Verbal: 670 Quant: 660 AW: 4.5 (grr)

Anyone have a similar experience or a success story?

Also, feedback wanted on my undergraduate record... Is it unrealistic to think that I could be admitted to any graduate programs?

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I applied to 8 of the top Philosophy doctoral programs in the US and got rejected by all of them.

Since then, I've submitted some applications to MA programs. I hope that being part of a well-recognized MA program in the field will boost my chances for admission next year.

My undergraduate GPA overall was 3.26, while my GPA in Philosophy was 3.67. My GREs were Verbal: 670 Quant: 660 AW: 4.5 (grr)

Anyone have a similar experience or a success story?

Also, feedback wanted on my undergraduate record... Is it unrealistic to think that I could be admitted to any graduate programs?

In answer to your last question, your record is fine. Mine was somewhat similar and I made out ok this year.

I think this is not something that should discourage you. It happens to the best of us. I applied to several doctoral programs before and got turned down by all of them, citing the need for more experience. How much relevant experience do you have? One thing that may help you is getting more research experience in the field you want to study.

Call up the universities and ask for advice on how to improve you application. When I did they gave me invaluable advice on how to improve my application. You may want to do the same.

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I applied to 8 of the top Philosophy doctoral programs in the US and got rejected by all of them.

...

My undergraduate GPA overall was 3.26, while my GPA in Philosophy was 3.67. My GREs were Verbal: 670 Quant: 660 AW: 4.5 (grr)

...

Also, feedback wanted on my undergraduate record... Is it unrealistic to think that I could be admitted to any graduate programs?

truthfully, i dont think you were being very realistic with your applications. your GRE is solid, but your grades arent entirely top-10 calibre. roughly speaking, top 10 philosophy programs probably get at least 300 apps a year and maybe accept around 20. (this year the odds were probably even less in your favor). think of all those with 4.0's that apply to top 10 programs as well. how will you stand out in a positive way, and not only that, but in such a positive way as to cancel out your 3.26 gpa?

next year, i'd consider just a couple of top 20 schools as 'reach' schools. the rest should be schools in the top 30-50 mix. and maybe one or two below the top 50 as safeties.

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I applied to 8 of the top Philosophy doctoral programs in the US and got rejected by all of them.

Since then, I've submitted some applications to MA programs. I hope that being part of a well-recognized MA program in the field will boost my chances for admission next year.

My undergraduate GPA overall was 3.26, while my GPA in Philosophy was 3.67. My GREs were Verbal: 670 Quant: 660 AW: 4.5 (grr)

Anyone have a similar experience or a success story?

Also, feedback wanted on my undergraduate record... Is it unrealistic to think that I could be admitted to any graduate programs?

Well, as I've said before, this whole process doesn't come down to the stats, from what I've come to understand about it. You say you applied to 8 top programs in your field--did they all have people who you were interested in working with? Do your research interests fit with theirs?

In reference to the stats, though: it's not remotely unrealistic to think that you could be admitted to any graduate programs, but for "top" programs--and I'm not sure what those are for philosophy, although I do know that philosophy grad programs are notoriously difficult to get into--you might come up a bit short. For example, I know that for top English programs, 700 is the recommended score for the verbal section of the GREs. Also, these same programs write that "no less than an A- major GPA" is advisable--yours is exactly an A-. But, again, this is far from the most important part of the whole shindig. I'd wager that this was more of a fit issue, and that other, more important factors (do you have publications? Conference presentations? How were your writing sample and SOP?) came into play far more than your stats.

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Thank you to everyone that has replied so far.

I am relieved to hear that I have a chance of gaining admission in the future.

glasses, I think you are right about my failure to gain admittance thus far having more to do with factors outside of the stats.

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When it comes to philosophy, I think your application is (roughly) prioritized as follows:

1) Writing Sample/LORs

2) Research Fit/SOP

3) Publications/Conferences (quality over quantity)

4) Grades/GRE

5) Extracurricular

At this level, I think grades are largely superfluous. That is, if you're applying in accordance with the Gourmet Report, you should simply assume that most applicants will have a 4.0 GPA. Keep in mind that this year was especially difficult given the increase in applications and the decrease in available funding. While almost everyone has a mixed opinion about the MA route, it really is a personal choice. In my view, the MA route provides an excellent opportunity to deepen your understanding in the history of philosophy, while also allowing you to secure a few publications. Additionally, it gives you some time to mature as an individual (both intellectually and personally).

Finally, it should be noted that the top MA programs in philosophy do not necessarily coincide with the Gourmet Report. Depending on your interests, you'll probably have to do some individual research and contact potential supervisors (should you do the MA by thesis). Other than that, keep your head up. With so many qualified applicants out there, some decisions just seem arbitrary (even to those who gain admittance).

Best of luck!

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I applied to 8 of the top Philosophy doctoral programs in the US and got rejected by all of them.

That right there makes it highly likely you won't get in somewhere. Top means ultra competitive. The odds of getting in those schools are <10% (generally closer to 5%). You're playing by fire only applying to those schools. Traditionally logic to application strength doesn't apply in graduate school nearly as much as it did for undergrad. The intangibles (statement of purpose, past research, letters of rec) matter more than the tangible aspects (grades, GRE) for graduate admission.

Doctoral programs are even more difficult to get into than master programs. Even more competitive with fewer spots.

Widen your search next time, have a bracket of schools: safety, competitive, reach. This will give you a better opportunity to enroll somewhere next year.

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Grades play a factor, but they don't determine the outcome. You have good grades, they could be a lot better, but you can make up for that with a strong personal statement, strong letters of recommendations, adding more research/education experience to your profile, and connecting with the advisers/faculties of the specific programs of interest.

You'd be surprised how far you can make it with a simple connection with a staff-faculty member, at the same time, it ought to be someone who you TRULY desire to work with. But yeah, to get back to the main point, grades do influence BUT DO NOT determine the outcome of admission.

Do your best and keep your dreams high, if you really want it, you'll fight for it...and the faculty will see that. Be sincere and be determined, persevere!

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When it comes to philosophy, I think your application is (roughly) prioritized as follows:

1) Writing Sample/LORs

2) Research Fit/SOP

3) Publications/Conferences (quality over quantity)

Indeed... I was surprised to find out how much stock was put in strong LORs from known references. I believe that these, more than anything else, separated the first round admits from second round, at least in my program. Programs want to admit strong candidates, sure, but more than that they're looking for individuals that are known quantities and who they believe will succeed. LORs can provide that kind of insight into character that is absent from most other materials.

GREs are used to weed out clearly lower candidates. If you have below a 1200, for instance, that's kind of the magic number for Ph.Ds. Average for the Ph.D program I got into was around 1375 last year. Some admissions folks are "GRE queens" though. Below 1000 is kind of the kiss of death, even for master's.

GPA doesn't mean much, when it comes down to it, unless you're absolutely set on going to Harvard or something. My undergrad GPA is truly sub-par.

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GPA doesn't mean much, when it comes down to it, unless you're absolutely set on going to Harvard or something. My undergrad GPA is truly sub-par.

GPA is a better predictor of success in grad school than GRE, although neither is very good.

Honestly, OP, philosophy programs are some of the most competitive. I hate to be too much of a buzzkill, but I think your GRE is borderline for top philosophy programs and your GPA is somewhat low (but hopefully offset by your better philosophy GPA). I know writing samples and LORs are more important, but GPA/GRE need to be above a certain point to get your application a serious look. For the top programs in a super competitive field like philosophy, I'm not positive you're even going to get your application seriously considered :( I'm more familiar with psychology, and I know that those numbers would probably be borderline for top clinical or social psych programs.

If you do an MA first, I think that will help a ton, especially if you can get ~4.0 GPA in the program. But if you don't go that route, I think you might need to apply to a couple programs outside the top 5/10 to give yourself a better chance at getting an offer from a great (but not top) program.

Definitely still apply to some of those dream schools, even if you don't decide to get an MA. Next cycle is a new round and if your app was borderline this time, you might end up accepted next time :)

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My two cents about the GPA/GRE stuff. Atleast for international students, American univs tend to disregard undergraduate GPA as they can't really compare it in a fair manner. I had a horrendous GPA but had 1500 on GRE and things worked out for me when I had applied for my Master's. Now my admits could be due to other reasons than my GRE scores, but I'm guessing it certainly helped. At the same time, I had applied conservatively (rank 10-20 programs in my field) and no ivy's. Perhaps schools of that kind of brand value might want across the board excellence. I had no intention of joining up for a PhD directly so went through the Master's route as cogneuroforfun has suggested. Did well in my grad program and applied with more substance in my PhD application. Best of luck with your grad apps.

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