The philosophy student who wishes to explore whether to apply for graduate study in philosophy should first discuss this with his or her Philosophy Program Mentor. In some cases, one plan of course work may be better than another in preparing for graduate study.
The student interested in graduate study in philosophy may wish to consider future employment possibilities. Usually today only those job applicants who have Ph.D.s in philosophy are considered for positions at four-year colleges and universities. Some community colleges consider applicants with masters degrees, but this is becoming rarer.
Getting a doctorate in philosophy will generally take an absolute minimum of four years of full time study. Masters degrees usually take two years.
The academic job market is currently highly competitive. The student considering a career in professional philosophy should take this into account and plan his or her courses of study, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, accordingly. In some cases, this may include a decision to attend one Graduate Programs rather than another.
The student should investigate, using materials in the main department office such as the APA Guide to Graduate Study in Philosophy, which graduate schools to focus on as possible candidates for application.
The student should consider the specialties of the Graduate Programs in which he or she is interested. Some programs have many specialties, some have few. A student should ensure that the program's specialties match his or her interests, especially in those cases where the student has strong interests in particular areas of philosophy.
The student may wish to consider whether financial aid is available in the form of scholarships, fellowships, or teaching or research assistantships. And the student may wish to consider how much this aid amount to: does it simply cover tuition? is there a stipend offered? is the stipend enough to live on, if necessary?
The student should make arrangement to take the Graduate Record Examination (the GRE) early enough so that GRE results can be provided with applications to grad school.
Generally Graduate Programs accept applications for graduate study anytime during the academic year, but most programs have a SPRING deadline for completed applications to begin graduate study in the FALL. Some of these deadlines can be as early as January or February, so the student must plan carefully.
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