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Here are some answers to frequently-asked questions about graduate school:
Q: How much do I need to specialize?
A: Philosophical study breaks down into two basic parts: the domain of knowledge (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, logic) and the domain of values (ethics, political theory, aesthetics, philosophy of religion). While you don’t need to specialize in a field yet, it will be beneficial in choosing a department to know which of these domains interests you more.
Q: Where should I go to graduate school?
A: As a general rule of thumb, there is no right graduate school for everyone. What matters is that you find the right fit for your specific needs and interests.
For some helpful information, visit the Philosophical Gourmet Report for graduate school rankings.
But, please Note: The American Philosophical Association recognizes that there is often a need for comparative information about departments and programs. It therefore encourages those seeking such information to access A Guide to Graduate Programs in Philosophy, which is published every other year by the APA. The APA also encourages people seeking comparative information about departments and programs to use the links on the APA web site to examine the graduate programs offered by various departments, and to consult with chairpersons or graduate directors.
Q: When should I begin the application process?
A: It is never too early to begin. We strongly encourage students, if possible, to begin their search during their second-semester of their junior year.
Q: What do I need to do in order to apply?
A: Your application will include: a letter of application, a resume, GRE scores, a sample of your best writing in philosophy, and letters of recommendation from three faculty members. You can begin as early as your junior year to put these materials together. As you are doing this, you might also consider applying for national and/or regional scholarships and fellowships.
Here are some general recommendations concerning preparation for graduate school in philosophy:
• Take courses and other opportunities to develop your writing skills.
• Strive for a high GPA, but not by taking "easy" classes.
• Get involved on campus or in the community in groups that interest you.
• Learn foreign languages like French and German.
• Consider studying abroad in a foreign language.
• Use summers meaningfully: do an internship, learn a language, or travel.
• Begin preparing for the GRE well in advance.
• Take the GRE more than once.
• Begin reading secondary literature in philosophy.
• Get to know your professors and advisors. They will be writing letters of recommendation for you some day!
• Give a paper at an undergraduate philosophy conference and/or submit a paper to an undergraduate philosophy journal.
• It is never too early to get started: plan ahead and don't procrastinate!