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Is it very difficult to get into the BPhil at Oxford?


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Hey guys,

I am a philosophy major with extensive background(up to advance logic...etc.) I am about to graduate in one month as a philosophy major. Therefore, I was interested in doing a masters in philosophy. I initially thought about applying to Tufts or Simon Fraser. However, I feel that I might not necessarily need this extra background as I am already taken most of the classes they offer. My actual plan is to continue with a masters degree at the school I'm in(NYU) and then try to jump to the Bphil. This is mainly because I really like the TA's at my current school and I feel that I would learn much more from them than starting all over in a new school somewhere else in the country. 

What do you guys think? 


Edited by ItALO
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Given it's Oxford, you should probably expect it to be more difficult to get accepted than it'd be elsewhere (Tufts, SFU, Brandeis, and so on). Also, it's worth noting that I'm pretty certain that Oxford's admissions process (both at the undergraduate and graduate levels) is wholly merit based. Personal factors, diversity considerations, etc., to my knowledge, don't factor into the admissions process, and it's likely this will be made explicit by Oxford when you're potentially filling out your app (this is something on which they pride themselves). They would, in my understanding, be completely willing to accept someone who did well at Oxford as an undergraduate into the BPhil. They probably have a good chunk of people applying each year who went to Ivy League schools and competed degrees in philosophy or related fields as well. Since you did your undergrad at NYU, you should at least be a plausible applicant to the program, though. However, I believe funding for the BPhil is hard to come by, so if you don't come from a wealthy background that could be problematic.

Edited by 753982
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If you have over a 3.7 GPA overall, an amazing prorposed statement of study, and great letters of recommendation then yeah, it is very plausible to get into Oxford's BPhil. As someone that has an offer from Oxford's MA in Phil as well as UCL's Taught MA in Legal and Political Theory, I can attest to the validity of @753982's statement that diversity factors very little into the application process for UK programs. One caveat, though, is that I applied to these programs in October when their applications first opened. These programs only take but so many applicants so I was always told to apply early. Also, as @753982 also stated, funding for these programs are extremely hard to come by so take that into account as well.

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Oxford's BPhil actually accepts quite a lot of students, especially international students (note: that's not to say it's less competitive than other programs). They do it for the tuition money, though, and the competition for international funding is impossibly high. It's not worth the debt if you don't get funded. Also note that very, very, very few BPhils make it through to the DPhil after. It's a total bloodbath.

You can do you MA anywhere you feel comfortable doing it, just try to learn new things along the way. It's good to go to new departments because their courses are different, but also because working in a new department gives you a better sense of what the profession is like, nets you a broader network, and gives you a taste of the instability and uncertainty that awaits you (after the PhD you will move every year or two for five or more years, depending on your job market stamina).

Also: I don't know what it's like at NYU, but TAs don't usually cover Master's-level material.

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I was admitted to the BPhil this season. For reference, I have a 3.9 philosophy, 3.9 overall, GRE 168/155/6.0, double major with phil and IT, and top 5 PGR undergrad. My sense is that the BPhil is far less competitive than the top PhD programs. There are two reasons for this: First, you aren't competing with applicants from MA programs (or the BPhil itself), but only other undergrads; and second, the BPhil admits more students than any PhD program. According to the website here (https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/courses/bphil-philosophy?wssl=1) there are 27 spots in the BPhil this season, whereas the very largest PhD programs have maybe 10-15 spots. That said, I'm sure it's still quite competitive, though I don't have any idea of how it compares to lower ranked or unranked PhD programs, or to MA programs.

The best thing to be said for it is that it has an excellent placement record (see http://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk/bphil-alumni-information). Of the 35 graduates last year, 6 advanced to the DPhil at Oxford, and 15 were admitted to (non-Oxford) PGR top 20 philosophy PhDs (some highlights: 3 at NYU, 2 at Rutgers, 2 at Yale, 1 at Princeton). I don't know the placement records of other MA programs, but I'm willing to bet that the BPhil is at least as good as any of them.

The worst part is the funding situation. If unfunded, it will cost about the same as some undergrad, or about $25,000 in tuition alone this season. I've heard from many placed the funding is quite difficult to get. I haven't yet heard about any for myself. What I would recommend is, if you do apply, be sure to apply for scholarships within the app itself and outside of it even before you know whether you will get in. In the rush of the applications process, I didn't bother to do any of this since I thought it a waste of time when I had other applications to do and didn't know if I would be admitted. Plus, I wasn't really aware of the grim funding situation and the expenses.

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