美国青年哲学家的忠告：中国学生如何准备申请美国哲学博士项目？新闻来源: 武汉大学哲学学院 于 2018-01-13 6:33:50
You probably won’t get into a PhD program. The odds are bad, and everyone that you are competing against is a brilliant philosophy student. If you are applying internationally, you are competing with the best philosophy students in the world, and there aren’t that many good positions. So you probably won’t get in. Sorry.
Is there something that you want to do with your life other than be a philosophy professor? Yes? If so, do that. You’ll be happier. Trust me.
I give this advice to American students, too. It’s brutally difficult to get into a good PhD program. It will be even harder because you are a Chinese student. I wish that weren’t so, but it is. And if you get in? Graduate school is hard. And at the end of graduate school, you probably won’t get a good job. That’s the hard fact.
Really? There’s nothing else you want to do with your life?
Given the bad odds of getting into a good PhD program, if you want to apply, you need to take many different steps to improve your odds of being accepted.
The first trick is to apply to a MA program instead of a PhD program. Spending two years getting an MA at a good terminal MA program will dramatically increase your chances of being admitted to a PhD program eventually.
A list of good Philosophy terminal MA programs can be found here: http://www.philosophicalgourmet.com/maprog.asp
4.Never Ever apply to a program that doesn't offer funding
If you are not getting funding, you are being exploited.
Most graduate student contracts forbid you from holding a second job while you are a grad student, and even if you are allowed to work a second job, you won’t be able to because you’ll be busy with your PhD.
The kinds of programs that don’t offer funding are low-quality programs that will not get you a good job.
The better the school you go to, the better your chances of getting a job later. Only apply to schools that are well-ranked on the Philosophical Gourmet Report: http://www.philosophicalgourmet.com/overall.asp
Also look at the Specialty Rankings for the area that you are most interested in. Programs that are highly-ranked in your area are also good places to apply, even if their overall ranking is a little weak. For example, if you are interested in Epistemology, don’t hesitate to apply to Rochester. But don’t apply to Rochester if you’re not interested in Epistemology – its overall ranking is low.
If you are just as qualified as another applicant, but the other applicant has better English than you do, the other applicant will be selected. Getting a PhD in philosophy at a western university isn’t the kind of thing that you do in order to learn English, it’s the kind of thing that you do after having learned English.
Don’t translate this guide into Chinese. If you can’t understand the English in this guide, you need to study English more.
Have fun with it. Just watch American TV programs; you’ll be amazed how much that helps with your English.
This is the LEAST IMPORTANT part of your application. Admissions to PhD programs in the west are NOT BASED ON TEST SCORES.
Think of these in a Pass/Fail sort of way: your grades and test scores need to be high enough to warrant consideration. High test scores will not get you accepted, but low test scores will get you rejected.
Take a few practice tests by yourself before you attempt the GRE. Do not take the test multiple times unless your score is very bad the first time. Again, this isn’t that important.
This is the most important part of your application.
You should begin working on your writing sample at least a yearbefore you apply to graduate school.
You should be constantly researching, writing, and re-writing.
Get lots of feedback from the professors who will write your letters of recommendation.
Your English must be perfect.
The first five pages of your writing sample must be perfect.
Make sure you read Jim Pryor’s Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy paper: http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html
Follow those guidelines.
Start thinking about letters of recommendation months in advance of when you will be applying to graduate school. If I am going to write you a letter for your graduate application in December, I need to know about that by September.
Make sure that you have good working relationships with the professors that you are asking for letters of recommendation.
Make sure that you have good working relationships with professors in general.
Rarely helps you; can hurt you.
Use this letter to demonstrate real interest in the program you are applying to.
Show how your strengths and interests match the strengths of the department to which you are applying.That means that you should customize your cover letter for each department you apply to.
This is too early to decide whether you want to pursue graduate studies. Focus on your undergraduate coursework. However, if you think that you might be interested in international graduate studies, you should work full-time on improving your English. This will be a valuable skill whether or not you want to pursue graduate studies at a Western University.
Focus on your coursework. Most top graduate programs in the west have a focus on analytic philosophy; make sure that you are taking courses on contemporary analytic philosophy. It’s totally fine if your main interests lie elsewhere – take the classes that interest you. But make sure that you take at least one or two classes in the analytic tradition. In particular, take a class on basic formal logic. You won’t get into grad school if you don’t have logic on your transcript. And studying logic will make the rest of your undergraduate studies easier.
If you are interested in studying abroad, this is when you should start looking up how to secure funding for study in the west, and how to apply to western universities.
Fall semester: Continue your coursework, taking more advanced classes in areas that you are interested in. Consider taking a philosophy of language class. STUDY ABROAD – Not everyone will have an opportunity to study for a semester at a western philosophy department. But if you do have the funding, this is the optimal semester in which to do it. Try to establish a working relationship with at least one professor in the program that you visit. Letters of recommendation from professors at western universities will be very good to have when it comes time to apply.
Spring semester: This is when your work on your graduate applications begins in earnest. Begin work on your writing sample. Start thinking about the professors that you want to write letters of recommendation for you. Notify those professors that you might want a letter of recommendation from them. Study for the GREs.
Summer: Continue working on your writing sample. Take the GREs.
September: Confirm with the three professors that you will be asking for letters of recommendation that they will be willing to write letters of recommendation. Share your writing sample with all of these professors. Ask for their advice.
October: Continue working on your writing sample. Meet with your letter-writers regularly to discuss. If you met one of your letter writers while studying abroad, you won’t be able to meet with them regularly, but do make sure to get their feedback on a relatively polished draft of the writing sample. Re-take the GREs only if you got a very low score the first time.
November: Continue working on your writing sample. Finalize the list of schools that you will be applying to. Look up application deadlines – most applications are due at the end of December, but some are due earlier. Discuss with your professors how well you might fit at various departments. Draft an outline of a cover letter.
December: Apply. Good luck.