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Deciding between Claremont, New School, Temple or Duquesne--PhD Philosophy


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Greetings!

I have received 4 admission offers and would really appreciate feedback from this community. 

 

PhD Offers:

1.  Claremont (MA Philosophy/PhD Philosophy of Religion) -- 50% tuition from Religion dept. and still waiting for funding decision from Philosophy.

2.  Temple (PhD Philosophy) -- no funding

 

MA Offers:

3.  Duquesne (MA Philosophy) -- 25% tuition (at least)

4.  New School (MA Philosophy) -- 50% tuition

 

My background is in religion, so a second MA in philosophy may put me in a good position to apply to PhD programs afterward (and hopefully with better funding offers).  I should say that my focus is continental.

 

:(

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You definitely should not go to a PhD program unless you are fully funded, with a stipend, from the department.

 

A master's program is more a matter of your individual situation. It depends in large part on how much debt you will need to take on. A good rule of thumb is not to take out more debt than you can reasonably expect your salary to be after graduation. A master's in philosophy is not likely to improve your salary.

 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but none of these are good offers and if you were my friend, I would caution you against taking any of them.

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I agree that I would not go into any PhD program that didn't offer full tuition + a stipend you can live on. Even if your offer from Claremont were fully funded, I would also look at its rate of placement in the job market and consider carefully whether it will put  you on good footing after graduation. The folks on the Philosophy board may be able to offer more specific advice if you haven't already asked this question over there. 

 

You also haven't mentioned your goals with the degree or the pros/cons for you of these programs outside of funding, so it's hard to say much about any of these programs except from a financial standpoint. Financially speaking though, the New School looks like it's probably your best option right now, though cost of living in NYC of course needs to be taken into account. That said, I would also think carefully about whether a second MA is necessary if your eventual goal is a philosophy PhD, and whether the New School has a good track record of getting people into strong PhD programs. 

 

Are you particularly excited about any of these offers? What are you leaning towards? If you're not very excited about at least one of them, you might also just want to consider what else you can do to bolster your application and reapply later. Improving GRE scores (philosophy applicants seem to have some of the highest average GRE scores), getting relevant work experience, improving your writing sample, and finding POIs whose interests align better with your own may make more sense for you than spending more time and money in a second MA. 

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An MA might help you get better offers in the future, but it looks like you would be taking out substantial loans to do so. It's also entirely possible that getting an MA won't substantially help your PhD applications, and then you'll be stuck with a lot of debt. I don't know of any continental schools that offer funded terminal masters' programs, and I would imagine that getting a masters from an analytic school wouldn't help at all. But if none of your offers are fully funded, I would strongly recommend taking another year and strengthening your application as much as you can. Make your writing sample as strong as possible; you might want to change samples, if you don't think you can make your current one better, or it doesn't match your interests very well. Focus on your statement of purpose, too; make sure it's clear why you would be a good fit at every school you apply to. Depending on what the rest of your application looks like, you might want to retake the GREs or take noncredit graduate classes at a local university. You've had a fairly successful season in terms of acceptances, so you're probably a strong applicant already, but you might have better luck with funding next year. 

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