I have applied last year to Columbia and UCB for a PhD in philosophy. I got accepted to Columbia's masters instead. I contacted those in the admissions committee and they said that my application was very impressive. This year, I am intending to translate a philosophy book from French to English in collaboration with a known French philosopher. In percentage, even if it's not realistic, how much you d estimate my chances for getting admitted can grow with this translation project?

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    This depends entirely on who decides, but my guess is a very small percentage. It is a language project, after all, not a philosophy project.
    – Buffy
    Jun 4, 2022 at 20:35
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    Well, it takes a lot of time to understand the work, it is a very challenging one Jun 4, 2022 at 20:46
  • Perhaps, and I'm just guessing. Before you accept at Columbia (or anywhere) make sure you understand the financial aspect. Masters students seldom get funding. Doctoral students almost always do, though I'm not certain about philosophy.
    – Buffy
    Jun 4, 2022 at 20:49
  • @Buffy I didn't accept the offer. Either PhD with full funding, or I am out for somewhere else with funding. Jun 4, 2022 at 20:59
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    I don't understand the premise of OP's question. You apply for a PhD but get accepted for a masters? Jun 5, 2022 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


Translating a long academic text is a very arduous and thankless task. I’d suggest doing it only if you truly have the passion to do it for its own sake and for the satisfaction of knowing that you have done it, and not for some external reward.

Another way of saying this is that before starting, you should imagine that it will not help you get into a PhD program. If the knowledge that it will not help you still doesn’t make you want to not do it, then it’s a good idea to start.

Ironically, if you act out of a pure intrinsic motivation as I am suggesting, it very well might help you with the PhD application after all. The reason is that it will send an honest signal to the people in the program that you are the kind of person who is so passionate about philosophy that you are willing to invest a huge amount of time and effort on a project like this, with no promise of getting much in the way of an external reward. But it’s impossible to estimate the size of this effect. So I’d still recommend only doing it if the external reward isn’t the reason why you’re doing it. Good luck!

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