I've just graduated with a B.A. in the humanities and hope to attend graduate school for philosophy in the near future. I didn't major in philosophy-even though I have taken many courses in the subject I know that it will be a challenge to get into a good Ph.D program. Would it best suit me to undergo a master's in philosophy first-assuming that I'm accepted to such a program- before undergoing a ph.d? I'm also interested in the subject of religion and am wondering whether a master's in religious studies- e.g. an MTS from Harvard- would hurt my chances at getting into a good philosophy Ph.D program? What do you think of undergoing a master's in religious studies in lieu of a master's in philosophy? Aside from religion my primary philosophical interests are in ethics, social philosophy (esp Marx),philosophy of science, Kant, the history of philosophy and feminist philosophy. Thank you for your time...

Given what you've described, I think your best bet would be to apply to some MA programs in philosophy (full disclosure: I think Georgia State has a good program!), looking for ones that are strong in your areas of interest, while perhaps also trying a couple of PhD programs that fit your interests well, assuming you can get 2-3 good letters from your philosophy professors and your grades in those classes is good (you'll need that for MA applications too). You can also pursue the MA in religious studies but it is unlikely to help you much in the PhD process in philosophy , should you decide to pursue that later (I don't think it will hurt you, and a Harvard transcript might help. Finally, for MA or PhD, you'll need a very good writing sample (12-15 pages) that demonstrates you can develop an argument. I hope this helps!

I would also suggest investigating the M.A. programs in philosophy that have a good track record of helping people get into top PhD programs. However, I'd also add that majoring in philosophy is not a requirement for admission to most PhD programs, and many strong graduate students in philosophy have majored in other fields. Whether you are competitive for the better PhD programs depends largely on your letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and, as already noted, your writing sample.

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