I have a master's degree in computer science, and have been working as a software developer outside of academia for about a decade. I'm considering trying to transition into academic philosophy with the ambition of having an academic career, as far fetched as this may be. I'm evaluating the following two options:
- Pursuing a ~1-year MA degree in philosophy first (e.g. at Birkbeck College), followed by a PhD.
- Trying to apply directly for a PhD (in Europe, which officially means 3-4 years of study) in a somewhat related subfield (philosophy of technology and science).
Option 2 is something that was mentioned to me as a realistic possibility only recently: apparently, people do get directly accepted for philosophy PhDs with e.g. a math background, and no formal philosophy education. However, I'm not sure if skipping a relevant MA could hurt me in some way.
- Would it be a faux pass if I, with my lack of formal philosophical background, tried asking individual professors about the possibility of doing a PhD under their mentorship? I fear that this could earn me a black mark with them and impact my chances for future collaborations (after obtaining an MA). I have a pretty good idea about a topic I would want to work on, and have studied extensively on my own, but I have zero relevant publications. I do have some publications in other scientific disciplines, though.
- Even if I were accepted to a PhD program directly, would not having an MA in philosophy worsen my chances when competing for academic posts after having finished my PhD? My intuition tells me that in most case, not having an MA would be negative (I'm no prodigy and am not going to produce some ultra-extraordinary publication record that would outshine everyone else).