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BPhil Oxford vs PhD Notre Dame


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Hi everyone,

I was admitted to Notre Dame's History and philosophy of science program (HPS) and to Oxford's BPhil Philosophy program. Upon this moment Oxford have not told me about fundings while ND did. In the hypothetical case Oxford offered me funding, I would not know what to decide; I guess it is much better to enter directly into a PhD program but I know Oxford is better ranked in philosophy (ND is 19 whereas Oxford is 2). Now, I do not know how important is the general ranking in the decision ( ND still is an excellent program, being 19 is pretty good after all). Also, I have heard that students in the BPhil will have to repeat the application process in order to continue into the PhD (even if they want to go into Oxford's PhD program), and it would be very sad if in that moment I could not enter into a PhD program as nice as ND is (maybe I could enter into other programs even better , but there is a high risk I do not). So, my question is: supposing that Oxford offered me financiation (enough for living and paying all the costs), would you enter into the BPhil or would you enter into ND PhD program? By the way, I am interested in philosophy of physics, metaphysics and philosophy of science. Thank you everybody for your time, this is a very important decision and I would appreciate if you could help me.

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In case funding is not an issue, I'd undoubtedly head to Oxford (with the little information available). As I see it, the BPhil degree seems to be a really good preparation for research, including a thesis, and thus would be a great addition to your CV and a source of valuable LoRs for future PhD applications. Besides, if you do well, there is a good chance you could stay in Oxford or go to other top-notch program. If you manage to stay there, the Oxford brand (or one of an equivalent level) will be really helpful when you apply to faculty positions after graduation (unfortunately, rankings do matter) and it is naturally easier to be promoted to the PhD program whilst there than to try your luck applying from elsewhere.


There are of course other factors such as personal preferences regarding the cities and the individuals in each department and their prefered subject matters and you should factor them in your decision. You should also consider the academic and social benefits of the collegiate structure of Oxford. I do believe, however, that it is likely that you'd get another offer at ND and elsewhere after 2 years in Oxford (unless you fail hard, but that won't happen :P).

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I think you should look at the faculty rosters of several dozen departments where you would like to work. Compare the number of professors who have MAs and PhDs to those who have BPhils and DPhils. If the differences are significant, find out why.

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