Tips for Applying to Graduate School in Philosophy

Philosophy majors make many different career choices and among them is graduate school in philosophy. Students develop an individualized plan with a member of the philosophy department as soon as possible. To help students who wish to pursue this route, we offer the following general recommendations.

  1. By the start of the Spring semester of the junior year, assemble a list of ten graduate programs to which you wish to apply. These should include roughly five terminal PhD programs and five terminal MA programs. (In general, students should anticipate completing a terminal MA degree at one university, then applying for a PhD granting program at another university.) Note any unusual program requirements.
  2. Take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) by the summer before your senior year. If you have difficulties with standardized exams, be sure to look into the possibility of taking test prep courses, such as those offered by Stanley Kaplan. Some of these services offer discounts to Centenary students. If you need additional financial support for these services, please contact the chair of the philosophy department.
  3. Students should do a research project. A project proposal should be completed no later than the start of the spring semester of the students' junior year. Plan on completing a research project before the beginning of the fall semester of your senior year. This paper will constitute the writing sample in your graduate school application, so it is imperative that it be done at this time and that it be of the highest quality. Usually, this project will qualify the student for honors.
  4. Secure a reader at another college or university for your senior project by the end of the spring semester of your junior year. The Philosophy Department Chair or your major advisor will help you find a reader. Like the GRE, an external reader provides validation of your abilities outside the confines of Centenary College. In addition, an external reader will contribute to your project by providing you with additional depth of critical input.
  5. Graduate school applications will be submitted beginning in early December for admission in the following year, so allot time prior to this to prepare your applications. If you need additional financial support for graduate school applications, please contact the chair of the philosophy department.
  6. Students should secure letters from three professors who know their academic work. These letters should be solicited no later than October of the student's senior year. Professors should be provided with copies of the writing sample, CV (resume), the list of programs to which you'll apply (include addresses), a list of classes taken with the professor along with grades earned in those courses, and any other relevant material.
  7. Students should take Phil 210: Symbolic Logic.
  8. Consider developing a reading proficiency in a relevant language. Some graduate programs have a foreign language proficiency requirement, so it is helpful to go to graduate school prepared for this.