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Fall 2016 Applicants: Introduce Yourselves

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It's been rather quiet on the philosophy forum this summer, and no one has started a 2016 applicant thread yet, so I thought I would. Pretty much all my relevant information is in my signature. I was going to apply for the Fall 2015 term, but decided to postpone a year so my wife could put some time into a promotion she got. As a result I have had a long time to work on my application materials and everything is pretty much ready to go; I'm just waiting on all the applications to become available so I can fill them out and send them.

 

Who out there is readying their applications for Fall 2016? Who out there was unsuccessful previously and a gearing up for another go? Tell us about yourselves, whatever you would like to share: What is your background and what are your interests; where are you thinking of applying; what areas of your application are you most nervous about; do you have any graduate work under your belt or are you applying straight from undergrad; have you targeted anyone you really want to work with; what are you using as a writing sample?

 

Let's get this going!

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I'll go first! I applied back in 2014 and landed at a funded MA spot at LSU. I wasn't exactly shut out of PhD admissions, although I was shut out in effect. I was admitted to two, but not able to secure funding.

 

Anyway, my main areas of interest are in history and philosophy of biology, philosophy of science, and logic (with a special eye toward the metaphysical foundations of such topics). I'm currently working on the history of "economy of nature" concepts in 18th and 19th century biology, analyzing especially the concept's functional role in various naturalist's views concerning the "structure" of the biological world.

 

You can see the places I'm applying to in my signature. I can say that I'd really relish the opportunity to work with Roberta Millstein and Alyssa Ney (UC Davis), Hans Halvorson (Princeton), Rob Skipper (Cinci), Manfred Laubichler (ASU), Margaret Schabas (UBC), and Roger Ariew (Missouri). 

Edited by dgswaim

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Man, TGC seems really dead this year. That's a shame, I found it very helpful last year.

But, for anyone still around on here, here it goes: good luck with applications!

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Hey, I'm an undergraduate at Stony Brook intending to apply to those programs strong in the philosophy of mind and related areas. Next academic year I'll be studying abroad at Oxford, where I expect to clinch some weighty recommendations as well as produce work worthy of polish for my writing sample. I'm a dedicated autodidact on the topic of graduate school admissions and I've done independent analysis in my copious free time this summer. 

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I'm starting a one-year MA in the Classics department at the University of Toronto in September, with a focus on ancient philosophy (the department's willing to let me do nearly all of my coursework through the philosophy department as long as I also stay on top of the... intimidating Latin and Greek reading list, which is pretty exciting). This year will be my second round of applications: last year, I was accepted to a couple  Ph.D. and Masters programs, but wanted to take the year to consolidate my abilities in Latin and Greek before starting my Ph.D.. 

As you can guess, my principal areas of interest are the history of philosophy (specifically ancient/Patristic/medieval philosophy) and philosophical theology. Ideally, I'll have a chance to fold the two interests together during my doctorate - I'm really interested in the interplay between 'religious' and 'philosophical' commitments in the works of ancient philosophers (I put the terms in scare-quotes because I'm convinced that no such rigid distinction was recognized by the ancients, and modern attempts - primarily by analytic historians - to separate out 'philosophical' positions from other theological beliefs are hopelessly misguided). In particular, I want to look at the divinization of truth over the course of ancient philosophy, from Plato (where the Forms exist, at least in the mythological framework of the Phaedrus, beyond the realm of the gods) to Augustine (who repeatedly declares in the Confessions and elsewhere that God is Truth) and the influence that this divinization of the telos of philosophy had on philosophy's development. 

My writing sample is hopefully representative of one of the first steps in the developmental narrative I want to investigate in the coming years - I look at Plato's Meno and present (what I think - hope? - is) a novel interpretation of the underlying epistemic commitments that shape the theory of anamnesis as presented in the work, and show how these commitments represent Plato's first attempt at providing a theoretical foundation for the Socratic practices captured in the early dialogues. I've spent the last couple months working on the paper, and am quite happy with it... but am trying to reserve judgement until some of my profs have had a chance to read it over for me. 

I'm applying to a ton of places, from smaller Catholic schools where I could focus more on Aquinas and other Scholastics (e.g. CUA, SLU, Fordham), to Chicago's Committee on Social Thought, to all the major American ancient programs (Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley etc.). I really appreciated this community during my applications last year - I hope things start to pick up again as the application season begins in earnest!

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I'll go first! I applied back in 2014 and landed at a funded MA spot at LSU. I wasn't exactly shut out of PhD admissions, although I was shut out in effect. I was admitted to two, but not able to secure funding.

 

Anyway, my main areas of interest are in history and philosophy of biology, philosophy of science, and logic (with a special eye toward the metaphysical foundations of such topics). I'm currently working on the history of "economy of nature" concepts in 18th and 19th century biology, analyzing especially the concept's functional role in various naturalist's views concerning the "structure" of the biological world.

 

You can see the places I'm applying to in my signature. I can say that I'd really relish the opportunity to work with Roberta Millstein and Alyssa Ney (UC Davis), Hans Halvorson (Princeton), Rob Skipper (Cinci), Manfred Laubichler (ASU), Margaret Schabas (UBC), and Roger Ariew (Missouri). 

That should say Andre Ariew, not Roger. Roger Ariew is at South Florida.

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Hi everyone, newbie to the GradCafe forums!

I'm currently half way through my M.A. at Kent State in NE Ohio, and I am looking to apply to PhD programs this fall for the 2016-17 year. My primary areas of interest are in epistemology and the history of philosophy, and I'm looking to expand into value theory and possibly mind and language. This is my first time on the GradCafe forums. Hopefully it will prove to be a useful resource.

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Also, why did they get rid of signatures? That's kind of annoying.

Oh, wow, yeah why did they do that? The signatures were a really helpful way of getting a snapshot of peoples' information and interests, and of keeping track of their outcomes. Now that they no longer exist, my statement about my signature is entirely unhelpful. So here goes:

I received my BA from a SLAC back in 2010, double majoring in philosophy and music. I applied to a small handful of programs in the fall of 2009, but my applications were hashed together quickly and I didn't take the time to thoughtfully consider which departments would be a good fit for me. Consequently I was shut out. I applied late in the spring of 2010 to NSSR (which has a rolling admissions process) and was accepted late summer. I got a deferral, as I was already working in Boston with a year lease and couldn't pick up and move on such short notice. 

I did my MA at the New School, and incurred huge debt while doing so (not a smart move on my part; I thought/hoped I would be able to get more funding for my second year but was at the bottom of the pecking order and couldn't secure anything, then just racked up more debt). I started a full-time job at a non-profit in higher education while I was finishing up my thesis, and completed my degree in the fall 2013 term. I have since been working and wringing my hands over whether or not to continue toward my PhD. I have a wife, and we're looking to start a family in the near future. I know the realities of the job market, that by all accounts even if I complete my PhD I will not be one of the few to get a TT job (especially at any place that would pay decently enough to support my family and pay off my debt), as well as the opportunities for alt-ac and post-ac work.  I know that, given my background and research interests, I am not a very enticing candidate to the elite schools that will help put me in the best position on the job market, All this is to say that even if I am accepted (a long shot), there is more of a chance that I will not go than that I will.

But I thought I would at least apply, see if I can get in to a school with good enough funding and enough opportunities for my wife to find a good job she enjoys. I would absolutely love to take the opportunity to make my contribution to philosophy (and, in a small way, to knowledge in general) and gain the level of expertise possible only through rigorous graduate training and writing a dissertation. To this end, I have put together the strongest application possible for me (I've had two years to do so!). I have strong recommendations, a decent CV with a few grad conference presentations and a publication. My writing sample is polished and something I am very proud of, I have done extensive research into the schools that are right for me with faculty I am excited to work with and my statements of purpose reflect this. I have the best chance of getting in now than I ever will.

My interests are in moral injury and recovery, moral dimensions of the body, embodied cognition, applied ethics, German Idealism, pragmatism, phenomenology, and existentialism. My writing sample is on the connection between bodily and dignitary harms. My undergrad GPA is a 3.90, and my grad GPA is a 3.97. I took the GREs in 2014 and my scores are 165V / 155Q / 5.0AW.

I'm applying to the following schools: University of Oregon; Georgetown; University of Colorado, Boulder; Fordham; Penn State; Stony Brook; Northwestern; University of Pittsburgh; and the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought (good luck, Cecinestpasunphilosophe!)

 

Best of luck, everyone! I hope TGC picks up as the season goes on.
 

 

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I can try to give an impression of what was in my signature, too.

I've already said that my interests are in history and philosophy of biology, general philosophy of science, logic, and metaphysics. I'm interested in the intersection of science and religion, and philosophical theology, too, but less so as time goes on. I completed my BA in 2013 at a small LAC. Had decent success applying to grad school in 2014, and I'm now starting my 2nd year in the MA program at LSU. My thesis work is a critique of versions of naturalized metaphysics that take the unification of science as the basic task of metaphysics, especially in the work of James Ladyman and Don Ross. 

I'm applying to LOTS of programs. In (roughly) descending order based on interest, the list is as follows: Notre Dame (HPS), U. of Indiana (HPS), Princeton (LPS), Duke, UC Davis,  UPenn, Arizona State (HPS), U. of Wisconsin, U. of British Columbia, U. Maryland, U. Minnesota, U. of Utah, U. of Cincinnati, U. of Missouri, Florida State, UT Austin, U. of Washington, U. of South Florida, U. of Oklahoma

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I'm applying to the following schools: University of Oregon; Georgetown; University of Colorado, Boulder; Fordham; Penn State; Stony Brook; Northwestern; University of Pittsburgh; and the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought (good luck, Cecinestpasunphilosophe!)

Thanks! My application for the Committee is going to have a radically-different focus than all my other applications (I'm trying to draft out a study of the concept of essence and its potential application to a Christian system of virtue ethics, drawing primarily on Aristotle, Kierkegaard, and Gerard Manley Hopkins... but it really is nothing but a fat present), so I'm not overly optimistic about my prospects there - but I figure it's worth a shot!

Given the frustrating lack of signatures, I figure I might as well follow suit and list the schools I'm applying to. In something approaching a rough descending order of interest: Princeton, Yale, Berkeley, Notre Dame, Cornell, Chicago (Committee on Social Thought), Stanford, Chicago (Philosophy), Fordham, Michigan, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Arizona, CUA, SLU, UNC-Chapel Hill, Georgetown, Boston College, UT Austin. 

Edited by Cecinestpasunphilosophe

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Hi friends, 

I'm rearing up for take 2, after applying a few years ago and receiving a few funded acceptances from low ranking phd programs. I'm currently at a great (funded) MA program, and I'm looking forward to (hopefully) reaching higher this year. I'm figuring out my writing sample, but everything else is ready to go.  I'm applying to all of the usual suspects for epistemology. 

Question -- when do you think is the appropriate time to ask for letters? I've heard everything from September to November. 

Also, I'm kind of annoyed no one posts their apps until September. Now's when we have plenty of time to take care of that busy work! Wish there were a common app because that would save us a bajillion hours.  

 

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Here I go! 

 

As those who read my 'Joint Phd' post may remember, I just finished my MA at the Sorbonne and will be taking the 'agrégation de philosophie', a French competitive examination for professorship positions, next year. I wrote a dissertation about Mikel Dufrenne's metaphysics and political thinking emphasizing on the link between description and prescription his works carry : roughly, how does he jump from trying to describe the social world we live in as well as certain types of limit-experiences (such as orgasms or riots) to actually prescribing what should be? 

Apart from that, I'm considering doing my PhD either in North America or the UK - if not at the Sorbonne, it all depends on the funding available - in continental philosophy, but also using Spinoza, focusing on the concept of desire and the strategies it deploys in the creation or discovery of the desired object. I think this is it. :)

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Hello!

I'm an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying philosophy and cognitive science. I'm looking at applying to a whole bunch of PhD programs throughout North America in philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, but I don't quite have a list of places nailed down yet.

I'm pretty sure that Cecinestpasunphilosophe and I have a good idea who each other are :)

Edited by formalspaghettimonster

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Hi friends, 

I'm rearing up for take 2, after applying a few years ago and receiving a few funded acceptances from low ranking phd programs. I'm currently at a great (funded) MA program, and I'm looking forward to (hopefully) reaching higher this year. I'm figuring out my writing sample, but everything else is ready to go.  I'm applying to all of the usual suspects for epistemology. 

Question -- when do you think is the appropriate time to ask for letters? I've heard everything from September to November. 

Also, I'm kind of annoyed no one posts their apps until September. Now's when we have plenty of time to take care of that busy work! Wish there were a common app because that would save us a bajillion hours.  

 

I can't tell you how many times that thought went through my head. A common application would make things so much easier. It would also save me worrying about how to personalize my SoP for 20 schools... or having to decide on which schools merited the effort for such personalization. 

As to letters, I asked for mine late-October (well, for most of mine - one prof spontaneously offered during office hours to write one for me, which was a huge relief). September feels much too early, and November would make me worry about seeming disorganized - but these are all really just my gut-feelings. Others may have more rational justifications for asking at different points. 

Edited by Cecinestpasunphilosophe

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Hi friends, 

I'm rearing up for take 2, after applying a few years ago and receiving a few funded acceptances from low ranking phd programs. I'm currently at a great (funded) MA program, and I'm looking forward to (hopefully) reaching higher this year. I'm figuring out my writing sample, but everything else is ready to go.  I'm applying to all of the usual suspects for epistemology. 

Question -- when do you think is the appropriate time to ask for letters? I've heard everything from September to November. 

Also, I'm kind of annoyed no one posts their apps until September. Now's when we have plenty of time to take care of that busy work! Wish there were a common app because that would save us a bajillion hours.  

 

I'd start canvassing support early in the semester. I'd put out "feelers"in September to see if you get the notion that your profs. will be writing strong letters. I'd ask formally by no later than mid October. 

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As to letters, I asked for mine late-October (well, for most of mine - one prof spontaneously offered during office hours to write one for me, which was a huge relief). September feels much too early, and November would make me worry about seeming disorganized - but these are all really just my gut-feelings. Others may have more rational justifications for asking at different points. 

I've already asked for mine. I don't think it's too early to ask during the summer when professors (presumably) have a little more free time because they don't have to worry about teaching and grading (unless they're prepping for a new class) and don't have as much administrative work (unless they're the department chair). I got the sense that my advisers appreciated that I gave them such early notice so that they can get it out of the way now or budget their time for it later. I also provided a portfolio of information (more necessary for me since I've been out of school a couple of years) to refresh their memories on my grades, which classes I took with them and how I did, my accomplishments in grad school and after, the evolution of my writing sample from MA thesis to its current version, etc.

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I've already asked for mine. I don't think it's too early to ask during the summer when professors (presumably) have a little more free time because they don't have to worry about teaching and grading (unless they're prepping for a new class) and don't have as much administrative work (unless they're the department chair). I got the sense that my advisers appreciated that I gave them such early notice so that they can get it out of the way now or budget their time for it later. I also provided a portfolio of information (more necessary for me since I've been out of school a couple of years) to refresh their memories on my grades, which classes I took with them and how I did, my accomplishments in grad school and after, the evolution of my writing sample from MA thesis to its current version, etc.

It would also, of course, depend on your situation. You're right that, in your case, it definitely makes sense to ask early - you want to give them as much time as possible to look over your information etc.. In my case, however, it was only the second (or sometimes the first) class I was taking with them, which meant it made sense - I think - to spend as much time as possible developing a relationship with them before asking for a letter. 

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Hi everyone! New to the forum as well.

I have an MA in Philosophy and an MA in Classics, from the two universities in Amsterdam (UvA and VU, if that means anything here). Graduated last summer, and have had the great opportunity to teach at the University of Amsterdam in the meantime (on Foucault, the Philosophy of Science and the History of Philosophy).

Last year I applied to only one university in the English-speaking world, and some other projects in Europe, but got shut out completely. I'm now going to focus mostly on applications in the USA. 

My main interests are Ancient Philosophy, Continental Philosophy in the broadest sense of the term (from German Idealism to Neo-Kantianism to Phenomenology to Post-structuralism to Speculative Realism), analytical metaphysics (especially issues of modality), and the history of philosophy.

Since my SO is starting a program (not philosophy) in Chicago this fall, my top-choice universities are all in or around Chicago - UofC, Northwestern, Notre Dame. But I'll probably also apply to some other high-end schools that are strong in my areas of interest.

Anxious to see what this season has in store for me.

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Hello all, I'm new to this website and was hoping to learn from others who have been through this experience. 

I'm an undergraduate finishing up my final year. I will be will be applying this winter. I'm still trying to finalize a list of possible graduate schools (using the philosophical gourmet), but I am having a hard time figuring out how competitive of a candidate I actually am. 

My philosophical interests are ethics and metaphysics (particularly mind, religion, and philosophy of the person).   

 

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Man, TGC seems really dead this year. That's a shame, I found it very helpful last year.

But, for anyone still around on here, here it goes: good luck with applications!

Hi, I have a few questions and I am sort of new here. Can you help me? I would like to know what a good gre score is for philosophy students?

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Hi, I have a few questions and I am sort of new here. Can you help me? I would like to know what a good gre score is for philosophy students?

Philosophy students generally do very well on the GREs (most philosophy majors score in the 160-164 range for verbal, 50-154 range for quantitative, and 4.5-5.0 in analytical writing; see here).  What counts as a good score will vary depending on what kinds of schools you're looking to get into. The University of Chicago (currently ranked 21st in the US) states on their website that the average GRE scores for their admitted students was 167 V / 158 Q / 5.5 AW. Schools ranked higher may have higher average scores among their admitted students, I'm not sure. Personally, I don't think the GREs are worth stressing over too much or spending too much time on preparing for. It's unclear how departments use them, but according to the testaments of professors on philosophy blogs out there they are not used as a benchmark to cut anyone with scores below them without looking at the rest of their application (although if they did do this I don't see why they would admit it). As long as you're hitting the mid 160's for verbal and 150's for quantitative, I wouldn't lose sleep over it and would focus on the rest of your application. What I think is generally accepted as true is that your writing sample is more important than any other single aspect of your application, so spend the most time on that.

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Long time lurker--first time poster! Very excited.

Just out of a no-name city college, applying to a handful of MA and PHD programs this session. 

My writing sample is on the philosophy of history. Specifically, it attempts to synthesize the more recent Narrativist trend with a nomological probability scheme popularized by Hempel. Would love some feedback if that's anyone's bag. 

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Hi, I have a few questions and I am sort of new here. Can you help me? I would like to know what a good gre score is for philosophy students?

Philosophy majors have the highest verbal GRE scores of any major. So, anything below 160 would be alarming to an ad comm I'd think. 165+ would be best, and there will be a good deal of applicants with 169 and 170 applying to the top programs. Quant, according to some, isn't as important for most fields in philosophy, unless it is alarmingly low. In the 150s would probably be fine, all else being in order. The AW section is generally thought not to matter, since they have your sample. 

Two caveats: First, if English is not your native language, ignore everything I just said. Your TOEFLS will need to be elite to convince the ad comm you will be able to swim in a graduate program in a language foreign to you, but the GRE shouldn't matter as much. I have never been a foreign applicant however and I can't speak from experience. Anyway, second caveat: most ad comms will bend over backwards to assure applicants that the GRE is not taken very seriously. While it may be involved in some first cuts, or it may be used in some university wide funding calculations, it takes a backseat by far to the letters, GPA, sample and institution of origin. Some people think it matters some, some people think it should be ignored, but anyone will tell you that it is the least important (though of course most expensive) feature of your application. 

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Hello all, I'm new to this website and was hoping to learn from others who have been through this experience. 

I'm an undergraduate finishing up my final year. I will be will be applying this winter. I'm still trying to finalize a list of possible graduate schools (using the philosophical gourmet), but I am having a hard time figuring out how competitive of a candidate I actually am. 

My philosophical interests are ethics and metaphysics (particularly mind, religion, and philosophy of the person).   

 

This advice is directed towards a lot of folks on this forum. Don't hesitate to apply to MAs, especially if you are coming from a non-elite undergrad. Most people, including me when I came out of undergrad, just don't realize how much pedigree matters in PhD admissions. Eric Schwitzgebel has compiled some pretty substantial data on this: http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2011/10/sorry-cal-state-students-no-princeton.html

The folks that get in at the top schools are from the very best undergraduate institutions or stood out at the top MA programs. So please, don't waste 1500 applying to the top 15 just to get shut out. Apply broadly, and consider applying to MAs. There are several great philosophy terminal MA programs. Check their placement pages and faculty pages to determine if one might be right for you. For starters, consider Georgia State, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Western Michigan, Missouri-St. Louis or Houston, and if you have deep pockets, look into Brandeis and Tufts. 

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