College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > Philosophy > Student Resources > Grad School FAQ
If you’ve answered the first question in the affirmative, then you will have to figure out what schools and programs you should apply to. Ask yourself what kinds of philosophy, what historical epochs, what sorts of questions and figures you want to study and then contact faculty in our department who teach in those areas for advice. If you want to continue in Continental Philosophy, or in the history of philosophy (ancient philosophy, for example, or German idealism), or in feminism, or social and political philosophy or Asian philosophy, talk to the professors who teach in those areas here at DePaul and get a list of graduate programs suited to your interests.
Since DePaul’s philosophy department is generally oriented toward Continental Philosophy, the history of philosophy, and social and political philosophy, you may want to investigate the following programs where these areas are taught: Boston College, Boston University, University of California at Berkeley (especially the rhetoric program), Emory University (both in philosophy and comparative literature), Fordham University, Johns Hopkins University (especially the Humanities Center), Louvain University in Belgium, Loyola University, McGill University, Memphis University, University of New Mexico, the New School for Social Research in NYC, Miami University of Ohio (for an MA degree), Northwestern University, University of Oregon, University of Ottawa, Penn State University, Stony Brook University of New York, the State University of New York at Binghampton, the State University of New York at Buffalo (both in philosophy and in comparative literature), the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Toronto, Vanderbilt University, Villanova University, and York University. (This list is, of course, by no means exhaustive.)
You want to go through the whole application process only once in your life, so you should probably apply to several schools—at least five, probably between seven and ten—in order to maximize your chances for success. This can be a rather costly process, but it is often worth the effort and expense.
If you are not absolutely certain that you would like to study philosophy for the next six or seven years but would like to test the waters somewhere for a year or two, then an MA (or master's) program is perhaps right for you. If you do well in an MA program it is sometimes possible to be accepted into a PhD program afterwards, either at the same institution or another one. An MA can thus be a good way to spend a year or two deciding whether you really want to continue on in philosophy. (Universities with good MA programs include: Miami University of Ohio, Brock University, Northern Illinois University, and
Boston College.) You must be aware, however, that there are rarely any funding opportunities for students seeking an MA. You will thus have to pay tuition and living expenses out of your own pocket. You must also bear in mind that very few teaching positions are available to someone with only an MA. A PhD is today almost always required, even for teaching in two-year colleges. Getting an MA can thus be an extremely gratifying experience and a good way to spend a couple of years, but if your ultimate goal is teaching in a college or university you will eventually need more than an MA. Most of you applying to graduate school right after your BA will thus want to apply to a PhD (or doctorate) program or, as it is sometimes called, a joint MA/PhD program (this is a program whether the expectation is that you will get a PhD and where you automatically pick up an MA along the way). [Note: You may be asked on the application whether you are applying to the MA or the PhD program: if it is your intention to go to the PhD, then you should always check the PhD box.]
Again, beyond certain scholarships, funding opportunities for MA students are almost non-existent. For PhD students or students in MA/PhD programs, there are two main possibilities for funding.
First, probably the best thing you could do to get into graduate school is to get an undergraduate Fulbright fellowship or some other award. If you are just a sophomore or junior you might want to seriously consider this. Admission committees are always influenced by the decisions of other committees. In addition, the university you are applying to will know that you have gained certain language skills that will be important for graduate school and that you have already proven yourself capable of independent research. (You should also look into the Jacob Javitts Fellowship, a very generous award administered by the U.S. government that basically pays your way to graduate school. Telling a university that you bring your own funding with you will almost always help you to get in the door.) Second, you need to start thinking about the application process a full year in advance in order to put together a good application. Though requirements differ somewhat from school to school, here’s basically what you will need for an application:
You are fortunate to be in a department and university with a strong graduate program in philosophy of its own. You should take advantage of this by seeking the advice of professors who regularly sit on the Graduate Admissions Committee and of graduate students who have been through the process and produced successful applications.If you have been chosen for a fellowship, or if you are being considered for one, you may receive sometime in February or March an e-mail or a phone call from the Graduate Director or some other faculty member from the program to which you have applied. Make sure you express your enthusiasm about their program on the phone or via e-mail and show yourself to be a lively but polite conversationlist; it’s not impossible that they are gauging your level of interest and trying to see if you are the kind of student they would like to work with. Once a university has made you an offer you have until April 15th to tell them whether or not you are accepting it. You should thus wait until you hear from all the schools you have applied to, especially those at the top of your list, before making any decisions. Ideally, you will have received two or three offers by early April, at which point you may want to visit the universities that have offered you funding. You will also want to consult with your professors about your various options should this happy problem arise. (And you will certainly want to thank your letter writers and anyone else who helped you with your application for contributing to your success.) Remember that putting in an extra ten to twenty to thirty hours to produce a first-rate application may well mean the difference between getting into a program with full funding and not getting in at all. The stakes are thus very high, so look at the application process as something of a full-time job for a few weeks.