Considering Graduate School?
Students considering graduate work in philosophy should see the chair and preferably one or two other faculty members in the department, as soon as possible. There is much to consider in deciding whether to apply.
Prestigious graduate programs are extremely selective, typically matriculating six to twelve students each year among a couple hundred who apply. It is somewhat easier to get accepted to less prestigious programs, but their graduates tend to find it more difficult to compete in the academic job market.
In general, even those who are very interested in philosophy should think twice about graduate studies in this discipline if they do not have an A- or A cumulative GPA, mostly A's in philosophy courses, and an average of at least high 600s on the Graduate Record Exam. An outstanding record is important not only for admission to a competitive graduate program, but also for receiving graduate fellowships, without which graduate studies may be unaffordable.
Teaching philosophy for a living can be very rewarding. Unfortunately, the job market has been unfavorable for decades and is likely to remain so. While there are opportunities for those who persevere, the road to success is long and potentially frustrating. Students who aspire for an academic career should be prepared to work hard and should have an alternative career direction in mind in case the prospects for fulfilling work in academic philosophy become dim.
It is virtually impossible to achieve job security in academic philosophy without a PhD. Those who are interested in such a career should not plan to earn only a master's degree. On the other hand, some who earn an MA in philosophy (and even some who earn a PhD) eventually establish careers in other areas such as editing, government work, or high school teaching.
The department notes with pride that our strongest majors are well suited, if they so choose, to pursue graduate studies and an academic career in philosophy.