Thank you for your interest in applying to the graduate program in philosophy at UCSD. This page gathers some information and advice about the application process that we hope will be useful to potential applicants. If you have specific questions we can answer, you may call (858) 534-6812 or write to:
University of California, San Diego
Graduate Advisor; Philosophy, 0119
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla CA 92093-0119
January 14, 2013
Domestic Fee $80
International Fee $100
Please go to the Office of Graduate Studies' (OGS) website for information on the application process.
Almost all Philosophy graduate students are supported by some form of financial aid. Most work as Teaching Assistants at 50% time (approximately $16,636 for nine months). Typically this involves running discussion sections and grading papers for lecture and introductory courses in philosophy, humanities, and writing programs. An assistantship is also regarded as a full credit course, so Teaching Assistants usually take two graduate classes each quarter.
In addition, some Regents' fellowships are available for first-year students, and the department usually awards one or more dissertation fellowships a year for its advanced graduate students. Various fee scholarships, tuition and tuition/fee scholarships are also available, as are San Diego fellowships.
Advanced graduate students who have just completed or nearly completed their dissertations are sometimes hired by the department as Teaching Associates or visiting Lecturers. Under these titles, advanced graduate students autonomously plan and teach their own courses.
NOTE for applicants requesting financial aid: the deadline for receipt of your application is extended to January 16th 2012.
Our department attracts very high quality applicants, and admission is very competitive, as expressed below.
|Year||Acceptance Rate||Number of New Students|
It is also worth pointing out that UCSD Philosophy does not operate with a waitlist (as do some other programs); this makes our acceptance rate appear slightly higher than programs that do.
It is extremely unfortunate but true that we have to be even more selective in accepting foreign students. The reasons are bureaucratic, financial, and boring. The short version is that foreign students cannot become California residents while in graduate school, so they must pay non-resident tuition rates for the whole time they are enrolled, which means it is significantly more expensive for us to support foreign students. We (the department) do not like this policy at all, but it is not going to change in the foreseeable future.
That said, we have accepted foreign students to our graduate program, and will continue to do so in small numbers --- after all, our goal is to attract and admit the most promising philosophy students (not just the most promising philosophy students who are American citizens). And the non-US citizens admitted have done very well in our program. However, the financial constraints mean that foreign applicants have to be treated by the admissions committee as luxury goods; consequently, these applications must be held to an especially high standard.
Q: My GRE scores are low (say, substantially lower than those of the average applicants as reported above), but these scores don't represent my true promise -- I took the test while being bitten by my neighbor's dog, and there was loud music playing, etc. Anyway, I'm brilliant and now I really want to study philosophy at UCSD. Will my low GRE scores automatically disqualify me, or will you be willing at least to read the rest of my admissions dossier?
A: There's no firm floor GRE score that would by itself prevent the committee from reading the rest of your dossier. That said, obviously your low GRE scores (relative to the pool) are a risk factor for admissions, so this puts an extra burden on the other materials in your dossier to show that you've got what it takes to make it in our program.
Q: What about undergraduate GPAs? I concede that I spent too much time playing pool and too little time studying in college, but now I really want to study philosophy (and I'm brilliant). Will my low GPA exclude me automatically?
A: Again, your low GPA won't exclude you automatically or prevent the admissions committee from looking at the rest of your file. But, once again, this would probably raise a worry in the minds of most committee members, who would then take an extra hard look at the other materials for evidence of promise in graduate school.
Q: My major is x, where x ≠ philosophy. Will you even consider admitting me?
A: Absolutely we'd consider you; our program is interdisciplinary in lots of ways, and we find that applicants with diverse intellectual backgrounds often enrich what goes on once they get here. In fact, we have accepted many students in this situation, and almost all have gone on to do very well in our program and beyond. That said, part of what the admissions committee looks for is promise and talent in philosophy in particular, so if the undergraduate coursework in x (where x ≠ philosophy) doesn't demonstrate that, we need some other kind of evidence in the other materials (especially the writing sample) that does. Consequently, applicants in this situation really need to send a writing sample and other materials that show them at their philosophical best.
Q: I'm not a US citizen. Can I apply? Do I have any chance of being admitted?
A: Yes, please do apply. However, you should know that, as noted above, we are forced by financial considerations over which we have no control to be extremely selective in admitting non-US citizens.
Q: What part of the application dossier is most important?
A: The unhelpful (but true!) answer is that they're all important. Unfortunately, it is a bit hard to generalize beyond that because different readers weight the different components of the dossier differently. Still, if I have to choose one, I would say the writing sample is most important because it represents the fullest opportunity for applicants to showcase their abilities to think and write clearly about philosophy.
Q: Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
A: Usually the best letters come from professors of philosophy who have taught you and know your work. Such writers know what admissions committees in philosophy departments are looking for (since often they serve on those committees themselves). Moreover, they know what doing philosophy requires and so are able to assess applicants' promise in philosophy in a way that others -- even professors in other fields -- cannot. On the other hand, if the choice is between a philosophy professor who doesn't know you and a professor in some other field who does, I'd choose the latter because the resulting letter will be more substantive and helpful to the admissions committee.
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