Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

Hoping to hear some advice about applying to MA programs with the long term goal of beginning a PhD in Philosophy.

I graduated with honors from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Painting and a concentration in History of Art and Visual Culture in 2014. Towards the end of my schooling, my focus had shifted away from Fine Art courses (which at RISD already had a degree of Theory focus) towards my liberal arts courses which were heavily influenced by Critical Theory. My GPA was 3.809.

Since graduating I have done a lot of Philosophy reading and studying on my own and have taken courses at smaller non-profit educational organizations. I’ve been fairly active after school—through volunteer work, jobs, and independent research. I’m curious to hear what other peoples’ experiences are with Fine Art majors transitioning into Philosophy programs.

I expect it isn’t entirely uncommon since so much of the Continental Tradition places emphasis on the Arts (there are figures like Manuel Delanda who have made the leap), but I also suspect that most people applying to Philosophy MAs from other fields have BAs rather than BFAs. I’m interested in studying the History of Philosophy and Philosophy of Aesthetics, and I have a growing interest in the study of Metaphysics & Epistemology broadly. I gravitate towards the Continental tradition, but try not to make a huge deal of the divide between the two traditions.

Other areas of interest are Critical Theory, Social/Political Thought, and Media Theory. Seems like most people in strictly Philosophy fields for an MA are interested in schools like GSU, Brandeis, UW Milwaukee, and Tufts. Not sure how likely I would be to get into any of these programs. They also tend to be very expensive, though I imagine that the more recognizable institutions are really helpful in getting into any PhD programs and attaining paid teaching positions.

EGS seems interesting, but I think it would work better for someone further along in their Academic work to meet practicing Philosophers and Theorists. That said, EGS does seem very open to working alongside the Arts or accepting people from Arts & Humanities backgrounds. If funding permitted, I’d be interested in schools like CUNY or The New School. Other thoughts: Warwick seems interesting. So does CsDs at UMinnesota or UNSW Australia. UC San Diego. Thoughts? Advice?

 

Thanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

UWM has a current student who studied children's illustration in undergrad, and a couple of people have come through recently with strong interests in aesthetics. If you're also starting to gravitate towards M&E, UWM might actually be a pretty good fit for you. The main question is going to be how much background you've been able to build up. For example, our former artist had done a fair bit of theology and philosophy of religion; while he mostly knew other areas as they were relevant to that focus, he really knew them as applied to it. If you had some formal coursework in theory, you've chosen your outside work to get some background on areas you didn't study at RISD, and you have a good sense that there is philosophy outside of aesthetics and how it's relevant to your focus, you've got as good a chance of getting in to UWM (and by extension, comparable programs) as anyone else. If (as with everyone else) your writing sample is good.

Also, don't pay for a MA.

Also also, there are some MA programs that are more continental, though I can't remember which ones off the top of my head apart from Marquette. Someone else should know, though.

Edited by MentalEngineer
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there, sounds like we have a similar range of interests. I also come from a background outside philosophy (politics), and study 'continental' philosophy mainly. I'm not too sure about philosophy as I am doing research on where to apply myself, but last year I applied to comparative literature courses because they tend to be very flexible with disciplinary boundaries. I ended up applying to complit because I followed certain authors I'm interested in such as Bruno Bosteels, Joan Copjec, Kenneth Reinhard, Kristin Ross, etc. who all happened to be in Complit or Cultural Studies departments. 

I'm not really answering your question about transitioning into philosophy, but you might want to have a look at other cognate fields (complit, literary theory, cultural studies, etc.) which seem to be more open to interdiciplinarians. I'm not sure about analytic philosophy but they tend to be very much theory-oriented with people working in political thought and contemporary european philosophy including Deleuze. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/9/2016 at 7:02 PM, MentalEngineer said:

If you're also starting to gravitate towards M&E, UWM might actually be a pretty good fit for you.

@MentalEngineer Thanks for the recommendation. Yeah, that program looks interesting to me. I definitely see a thread between my interest in Aesthetics and Value/Ethics/Societal topics. I'd hope to move towards more Metaphysics in future studies, while the Art Historian in me wants to stay true to material conditions too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@maxhgnsYeah- Thank you. I'm not entirely opposed to studying in an Analytic Department, and there are definitely Philosophers now working with a foot in both traditions. My main concern with Analytic Departments is my own eligibility. Would I have a competitive application with a Visual Art/Art History background?

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/18/2016 at 6:10 AM, theodorejcraig said:

@steve3020Hey, thanks for the feedback. I'm looking into some CompLit programs and Cultural Studies programs too. Any recommendations on specific programs? I think they would be more receptive to my educational history.

Yeh it's the same with me, I emailed few graduate directors on those programmes about this (previous education) and they all said they're open to people from different fields. I'm applying to Cornell, Brown, NYU, and Toronto cos they've got people who specialise in my area of interest. 

One thing about them is tho, that they require foreign language ability. All of them ask you to be able to be fluent in at least one language when you begin and second and third foreign languages will work in your favour I guess. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Best of luck to you. I majored in Fine Art as an undergrad and realized in my Junior year that I couldn't see myself as a starving artist. It has been a bit of a journey, but I was just accepted into a number of History MA programs this year, with one fully funded and at least two partially funded.

It is totally possible to transition. I know that history is a bit different than philosophy, but what I think really helped me was that I had been out of school for a little bit, had some work experience, relevant volunteer/intern experience, took a couple of graduate courses in the subject, and finally, I was able to connect my interests in history to my background in the arts. Try to convince the schools that you apply to that you will have a unique perspective to study "X" because you have a background in "Y".

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/30/2016 at 5:51 AM, reremoop said:

Best of luck to you. I majored in Fine Art as an undergrad and realized in my Junior year that I couldn't see myself as a starving artist. It has been a bit of a journey, but I was just accepted into a number of History MA programs this year, with one fully funded and at least two partially funded.

It is totally possible to transition. I know that history is a bit different than philosophy, but what I think really helped me was that I had been out of school for a little bit, had some work experience, relevant volunteer/intern experience, took a couple of graduate courses in the subject, and finally, I was able to connect my interests in history to my background in the arts. Try to convince the schools that you apply to that you will have a unique perspective to study "X" because you have a background in "Y".

Congratulations on your success! Do you mind sharing a little bit about what you wrote in your statement of interest? I am also transitioning from politics to literature or philosophy so I'd like to know how you convinced the schools that your experiences in fine art actually make you a good candidate for masters in history. Thanks in advance.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

@steve3020

Thanks!

I was able to connect my specific interests in history (material culture studies/living history) to my background in the arts. For example: "I had come to realize that my interest and talent in the arts did not fulfill my desire for intellectual study. Although I had long planned to create visual and material culture, I instead found myself eager to study it." I basically said that as an artist experienced and interested in the creative process, I'd have a unique perspective to study material culture, especially in regards to the modern resurgence of craft in the US.

I am sure that you probably studied something in politics or experienced something that you can connect to your interest in literature/philosophy. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...

Hey OP, just my two cents but make sure you check the websites of where you are applying very carefully. Most of the schools I've read about specifically say that you need a minimum of a bachelor's in philosophy 'or equivalent experience'. Unless you go into aesthetics/philosophy of art specifically, you might be able to apply but getting accepted is a whole other thing.

 

Someone else mentioned having to be fluent in other languages, I think that's a stretch honestly. I've met with a lot of masters students and their bar for fluency is very low and simply means you can translate and read the language a bit. It does depend from school to school but normally they don't expect you to know the language before you go into your masters, you learn the necessary language(s) in your masters and perfect them in your Phd.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also trying to make a disciplinary "switch" from law to philosophy. One thing that you might consider doing is researching the graduate student's profiles under the "People" tab of the department's website. Often times, departments will display their student's previously held degrees and majors. Find the departments that have interdisciplinary students, and email the directors of graduate studies there to see if their departments are amenable to accepting students like yourself. Here's my own experience: 

(1) UNC pretty much laughed at the prospect of me applying in an email response. Their department website says about the same.

(2) University of Arizona said it was possible, but didn't sound very optimistic unless I came from a top tier law school like Yale. Their words. They had two interdisciplinary students, if I remember correctly.

(3) IU Bloomington adulated me and welcomed me to apply with open arms. 

(4) The University of Texas at Austin has several interdisciplinary students without a philosophy degree.

(5) Colorado University Boulder has a few interdisciplinary students.

(6) The University of California Riverside has a few.

(7) The University of Southern California has one! (I'm holding out hope for USC or UT Austin!)

(8) The Florida State University might be amenable. 

That's all I can remember off the top of my head.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...
On 7/9/2016 at 2:06 PM, topplegänger said:

Hi everyone,

Hoping to hear some advice about applying to MA programs with the long term goal of beginning a PhD in Philosophy.

I graduated with honors from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Painting and a concentration in History of Art and Visual Culture in 2014. Towards the end of my schooling, my focus had shifted away from Fine Art courses (which at RISD already had a degree of Theory focus) towards my liberal arts courses which were heavily influenced by Critical Theory. My GPA was 3.809.

Since graduating I have done a lot of Philosophy reading and studying on my own and have taken courses at smaller non-profit educational organizations. I’ve been fairly active after school—through volunteer work, jobs, and independent research. I’m curious to hear what other peoples’ experiences are with Fine Art majors transitioning into Philosophy programs.

I expect it isn’t entirely uncommon since so much of the Continental Tradition places emphasis on the Arts (there are figures like Manuel Delanda who have made the leap), but I also suspect that most people applying to Philosophy MAs from other fields have BAs rather than BFAs. I’m interested in studying the History of Philosophy and Philosophy of Aesthetics, and I have a growing interest in the study of Metaphysics & Epistemology broadly. I gravitate towards the Continental tradition, but try not to make a huge deal of the divide between the two traditions.

Other areas of interest are Critical Theory, Social/Political Thought, and Media Theory. Seems like most people in strictly Philosophy fields for an MA are interested in schools like GSU, Brandeis, UW Milwaukee, and Tufts. Not sure how likely I would be to get into any of these programs. They also tend to be very expensive, though I imagine that the more recognizable institutions are really helpful in getting into any PhD programs and attaining paid teaching positions.

EGS seems interesting, but I think it would work better for someone further along in their Academic work to meet practicing Philosophers and Theorists. That said, EGS does seem very open to working alongside the Arts or accepting people from Arts & Humanities backgrounds. If funding permitted, I’d be interested in schools like CUNY or The New School. Other thoughts: Warwick seems interesting. So does CsDs at UMinnesota or UNSW Australia. UC San Diego. Thoughts? Advice?

 

Thanks.

Did you ever apply for a PhD? If so, how did it go? I am also looking to apply to a philosophy PhD program next fall and have an interdisciplinary/arts background.

Edited by Aesthetics Always
Link to post
Share on other sites

Two other MA programs to check out are Miami Ohio and LSU. Both are funded and could be a good fit for your interests. SUNY Stony Brook also has a MA program focused more on aesthetics, though I don't think it's funded. 
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

@topplegänger I was a Fine Arts major that transitioned to philosophy: I did my BFA in Studio Art at a top-5 art school with no letter grades or GPA. I then worked in the NYC art world for a few years writing art criticism while studying analytic philosophy on my own. I was able to get into a number of terminal MA programs and ended up choosing Brandeis. This season, I applied to PhD programs and was admitted into many good places (including a waitlist to a Leiter top-10). I'll now be starting a PhD at a Leiter top-20 in the Fall.  My AOS is in analytic metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language. TLDR: With enough work, transitioning is definitely possible! Please feel free to DM me; I'd be happy to chat.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.