Grad School | Part 5: Contingency plans

You’re trying to figure out whether or not you want to go to grad school. You’ve tried to estimate the value of a PhD in philosophy (Part 1). You’ve considered academic jobs (Part 2). And you’ve considered the nuts and bolts of grad school (Part 3) and the pros and cons of grad school (Part 4). Now it’s time to figure out what to do if — after starting grad school — you find yourself no longer wanting the academic life. It’s time to talk grad school contingency plans.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | …

1. Disillusionment

Sounds exciting, right? Hear me out.

In just a few years, I have encountered many grad students who Continue reading Grad School | Part 5: Contingency plans

Grad School | Part 4: What’s Good And Bad About Grad School?

Prior to this post I argued that the value of a PhD is not in its job prospects …or lack thereof (Part 1). I showed that desirable academic jobs are neither ideal or common and that most academic jobs are very undesirable: they pay very little, they expire as frequently as every semester, and they offer no health insurance (Part 2). Then you found out about how most US philosophy PhD programs work (Part 3). If you are considering getting a PhD in philosophy, then you’ll want to have a realistic view of the process. This post attempts to provide such a view. It covers two things:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | … | Part 5

1. What’s So Great About Grad School?

Even on a mediocre day, I can honestly say that I am living the dream! Really, there’s a lot to be grateful for in terms of being a grad student in philosophy.

1.1 Admission

Just being admitted to grad school Continue reading Grad School | Part 4: What’s Good And Bad About Grad School?

Grad School | Part 3: The Basics of a PhD In Philosophy

Most philosophy programs in the US seem to share the same general model. So no matter where in the US you get a PhD in philosophy, you can expect a few things. Before we get started, here’s the outline of the series, in case you want to jump to another post.

Part 1 | Part 2 | … | Part 4 | Part 5

1.  Timeline

All US philosophy PhD programs have roughly the same timeline:

1st year: teach/research, take seminars

2nd year: teach/research, take seminars

3rd year: teach/research, finish coursework, qualifying Continue reading Grad School | Part 3: The Basics of a PhD In Philosophy

Grad School | Part 2: Academic Jobs

The value of a PhD is hardly about job prospects. So if your reason for getting a PhD in philosophy is the prospect of getting a particular job, then you might want to rethink things. Maybe you dream of comfy academic jobs. If so, it’s time for another reality check.

Part 1 | … | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

There is a reason that academics worry about the state of academic jobs. The good ones are increasingly Continue reading Grad School | Part 2: Academic Jobs

Grad School | Part 1: The Value Of A PhD

Many people will discourage you from getting a PhD in philosophy — e.g., Brian Leiter and Mr. Zero. Others will be less discouraging. but also realistic and practical  — e.g., Karen Kelsey. And then there are those who will refer you to their FAQ — e.g., Michael Huemer (subsequent discussion on Leiter Reports). This series has a bit of each approach.

Here’s the one-liner version: getting a PhD can (occasionally) be fantastic (!), but don’t expect a PhD to give you an academic job, a non-academic job, or a totally positive experience.

… | Part 2 | Part 3Part 4 | Part 5

In Part 1, I start to help you decide whether you should apply to grad school. The crux of your decision, as I see it, depends on a central question. Before we get to this question, however, we need to cover some background stuff. Continue reading Grad School | Part 1: The Value Of A PhD