Tuesday, August 16, 2011

MA: A strategy for being ready to apply to PhD or other programs by the end of the Fall term of your second year.

This is some advise from Simon Fraser University philosophy department regarding how to go about your MA if one is not writing a thesis and plan to apply to PhD programs. Basically it suggests focusing on developing your paper as a writing sample and getting to know faculty for you letters of recommendation. The general philosophy education is not as important in the first year.

The full article has many other good suggestions HERE

From the Site:

A strategy for being ready to apply to PhD or other programs by the end of the Fall term of your second year.

What we aim to provide our graduates with, so they can succeed in their applications, are three things:

a) a broad philosophical education
b) letters of reference from people who know the student
c) a writing sample

No one can get into a good PhD program without the latter two items, so that is what you need to get by the Fall of your second year. In other words you need:

  • Courses in your area of interest so the professors in that area get to know you
  • Your Professional Paper finished.

The first thought students have when they arrive in the program is that the way to proceed is to first get the course-requirements out of the way, especially the distribution ones, and then concentrate on their area of interest to come up with a professional paper.

This approach, natural as it is, will not work if you want to be applying for PhD programs in the Fall of your second year. The ideal procedure for that is to:

  • immediately start taking all courses in your area of interest with a view to getting a good paper to revise and getting to know the professors in that area.
  • Aim to revise your paper to Professional Paper standards in the Fall of your second year or, ideally, in the Summer preceding (The Summer term - whether of your first or of your second year - is the best term to do the Professional Paper: there are fewer courses offered and most non-TAship support)
  • Worry about the breadth requirements in the Spring (and Summer, if needed) after you apply to PhD programs (So, at the time of application, point (a) above is discharged by a promissory note).

In other words, there is no reason why the Professional Paper needs to be the last thing you do in the program - it is needed as a writing sample, and that takes priority.  You can present it as soon as you finish it or, if you want the presentation to be the final event of your degree, hold off on it.

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