Program Details

Doctoral Program Profile (PDF) (statistical overview of the Philosophy PhD program)

The Ph.D. degree requires 39 hours of graduate course work, including a first-year graduate tutorial and a research tutorial. Ph.D. candidates also must satisfy the University's Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement, pass both a departmental examination over the research tutorial and an oral comprehensive examination, and write and successfully defend a dissertation.

Admission to the Ph.D. in Philosophy

Apply to the graduate program via the Office of Graduate Studies online application system.


In addition to the general admission requirements from the Office of Graduate Studies, applicants are expected to have taken the following six courses or their equivalents as preparation for graduate work:

  1. symbolic logic
  2. history of ancient philosophy
  3. history of modern philosophy
  4. history of 19th/20th-century Continental philosophy
  5. value theory
  6. metaphysics/epistemology (broadly construed to include philosophy of language and philosophy of mind).

Students may be admitted without some of these courses, but they are expected to make up the deficiencies early in their graduate careers and outside of the minimum hours required for degree.


Students may begin the graduate program in either the fall or spring semester.  However, applicants who wish to be considered for financial support through fellowships and GTA appointments should anticipate beginning graduate studies in the Fall semester and must submit application materials by the following deadlines. 

Priority deadline for fellowship and GTA appointment consideration is January 5.

The final deadline for Fall matriculation is May 1.

 The final deadline for Spring matriculation is December 1.

Application Materials:

In addition to the application form, application fee, letters of recommendation, transcripts, etc., the Philosophy Department Committee on Recruitment, Admission and Awards requires the following supplemental materials: 


A Brief Personal Statement of Academic Goals

A Writing Sample  preferably a sample of philosophical prose approximately 10-15 pages in length

Applicants who indicate English is not their native language: Proof of English proficiency, as required by the Office of Graduate Studies. To be eligible for GTA support, TOEFL or IELTS scores must meet the benchmark of Regular Admission and the Speaking portion of the exam must meet the Employment benchmark in the English Proficiency policy.  KU TOEFL Code: 6871

Graduate Record Examination Scores (verbal, quantitative, analytical) are no longer required, though the department will consider GRE scores if submitted with application materials; KU GRE Code: 6871

More information regarding transcript and letter of recommendation requirements is available on the Graduate Studies Application Process page.

The Department of Philosophy Committee on Recruitment, Admission, and Awards requires applications include all supplemental materials prior to review.

Apply Now

Please contact the Graduate Academic Advisor, Aley Pennington, with questions about the application process.

Aley Pennington
Graduate Academic Advisor

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

A student preparing for a doctorate in Philosophy must meet general College and University requirements and satisfy these departmental requirements before proceeding to PHIL 999: Dissertation enrollment:

  1. Complete at least 39 credit hours* of graduate work in Philosophy courses numbered 500 or above with grades in each course of at least B– and an overall grade-point average of at least B in all graduate philosophy courses. At least 24 of these hours must be at the 800 level or above (including PHIL 800 Tutorial and PHIL 901 Ph.D. Tutorial). Beyond the 39-hour requirement, additional hours in PHIL 999 Dissertation are required as appropriate in accordance with the rules of the Office of Graduate Studies and the Department.
  2. Complete PHIL 800: Graduate Tutorial with a grade of B- or higher in the first year of enrollment.
  3. Formal Philosophy Requirement. Complete PHIL 610: Symbolic Logic or PHIL 666: Rational Choice Theory with a grade of B- or higher.
  4. Ph.D. Course Distribution Requirement:
    Metaphysics and Epistemology (6)
         Select two of the following:
    PHIL 620
         Philosophy of Natural Science
    PHIL 622
         Philosophy of Social Science
    PHIL 628
         Philosophy of Logic
    PHIL 630
         Philosophy of Mathematics
    PHIL 638
         Philosophy of Language
    PHIL 648
         Theory of Knowledge
    PHIL 650
    PHIL 654
         Philosophy of Mind
    PHIL 850
         Topics in Recent Philosophy: _____
    PHIL 860
         Topics in Philosophy of Science: _____
    PHIL 862
         Topics in Logic: _____
    PHIL 868
         Topics in Philosophy of Language: _____
    PHIL 870
         Topics in Metaphysics: _____
    PHIL 872
         Topics in Theory of Knowledge: _____
    PHIL 877
         Topics in Philosophy of Mind: _____
    PHIL 888
         Topics in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences: _____
    Value Theory (6)
        Select two of the following:
    PHIL 504
         Philosophy of Sex and Love
    PHIL 555
         Justice and Economic Systems
    PHIL 662
    PHIL 668
         Political Philosophy
    PHIL 670
         Contemporary Ethical Theory
    PHIL 671
         Feminist Theories in Ethics
    PHIL 672
         History of Ethics
    PHIL 674
         Philosophy of Law
    PHIL 676
         Medical Ethics: Life and Death Issues
    PHIL 677
         Medical Ethics: Professional Responsibilities
    PHIL 850
         Topics in Recent Philosophy: _____
    PHIL 880
         Topics in Ethics: _____
    PHIL 884
         Topics in Social and Political Philosophy: _____
    PHIL 885
         Topics in Law and Philosophy
    PHIL 886
         Topics in Applied Ethics: _____
    Ancient Philosophy (3)
        Select one of the following:
    PHIL 508
         Early Greek Philosophy
    PHIL 605
         The Philosophy of Plato
    PHIL 607
         The Philosophy of Aristotle
    PHIL 608
         Hellenistic Philosophy
    PHIL 805
    PHIL 807
    PHIL 820
         Topics in the History of Philosophy: _____ (if appropriate in content)
    Modern Philosophy (3)
        Select one of the following:
    PHIL 558     Seventeenth Century Philosophy
    PHIL 559     Eighteenth Century Philosophy
    PHIL 820
         Topics in the History of Philosophy: _____ (if appropriate in content)
    PHIL 824
    PHIL 828
    Philosophical Traditions (3)
        Select one of the following:
    PHIL 506
         Chinese Thought
    PHIL 560
         Nineteenth Century Philosophy
    PHIL 562
    PHIL 570
    PHIL 582
    PHIL 590
    PHIL 592
         Contemporary Continental Philosophy
    PHIL 820
         Topics in the History of Philosophy: _____ (if appropriate in content)
    PHIL 890     Topics in Continental Philosophy: _____
  5. PHIL 901: Ph.D. Tutorial. Students may not enroll in PHIL 901 before the third semester, but no later than the sixth semester of graduate study.
  6. Research Skills & Responsible Scholarship Requirement.  The University requires that every doctoral student have training in responsible scholarship and research skills pertinent to the field of research and appropriate to the doctoral level. This requirement must fulfilled prior to or within the same semester the comprehensive oral exam is scheduled. For Philosophy doctoral students, this requirement is met by the following:
    1. PHIL 800: Graduate Tutorial
    2. PHIL 901: Ph.D. Tutorial
    3. Demonstrated competence in an approved foreign language OR completion of a faculty-approved course in a discipline related to the student's research interests. 
  7. Pass the comprehensive oral examination for Ph.D. candidacy. This examination must be taken after all of the above requirements have been completed, or in the semester in which the requirements will be completed.
  8. Write and successfully defend a dissertation of substantial merit showing the planning, conduct, and result of original research.

*Reduction of Credits

University graduate credit policy does not allow for a direct transfer of credits toward the Ph.D.; however, the departmental requirement of 39 credit hours may be reduced by way of an approved petition depending on the amount and quality of equivalent graduate work completed at a previous institution. At minimum, 24 hours of acceptable graduate work must be taken in the Department of Philosophy at KU.

The Graduate Handbook describes the most essential aspects of graduate study in philosophy at the University of Kansas, as determined by departmental policy and university regulations. In addition to this handbook, every graduate student should read the pertinent sections of the latest edition of the Academic Catalog.

The version below is current.

Department of Philosophy Graduate Handbook (pdf)

Awards and Fellowships

Annual Graduate Fellowship Competition  Student members of Phi Kappa Phi are urged to enter the annual Fellowship competition. Both Chapter and National Awards are available. Each year, Phi Kappa Phi awards fifty Fellowships of $8,500 each, six at $20,000 each, and two at $35,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study.  Every chapter has the opportunity to submit one nominee and the awards can be used in addition to any other financial support received by the student.

Doctoral Student Research Fund The Doctoral Student Research Fund is designed to support KU doctoral students on the Lawrence Campus who need assistance to carry out research that advances progress toward the degree. A doctoral student is eligible to apply for up to two awards during their graduate program, one before doctoral candidacy (up to $1500) and one as a candidate (up to $2000).

Hall Center Awards  The Hall Center for the Humanities offers a rolling schedule of awards to support dissertation research travel and timely completion. Doctoral students are eligible to apply for awards at various points in their dissertation research and writing process.

The Olin Templin Fellowship in Philosophy is awarded on the basis of both academic excellence and financial need, and is awarded on the recommendation of the departmental Committee on Recruitment, Admission, and Awards. The department typically awards two or three Templin Fellowships for the summer semester; the Director of Graduate Studies will issue a call for applications in the spring. The stipend is variable, but is generally in the amount of $1000 for summer Templins. Applications for Templin Fellowships at other times should be made by writing to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Graduate Student Travel Awards  Graduate Students are eligible for travel support to professional conferences at which they have had a paper accepted for presentation. There are currently two sources of support:

  1. Graduate Studies OfficeThe Graduate Scholarly Presentation Travel Fund is for Lawrence or Edwards Campus graduate students presenting their research or the disciplinary equivalent at a meeting of a learned or professional society being held outside of the state of Kansas. This fund provides reimbursements of $500 for domestic or international travel expenses.
  2. Edward S. Robinson Philosophy Travel Awards The department occasionally has limited funds for transportation costs for students who are presenting papers at significant philosophical meetings. Eligible students should apply to the Chair of the Committee on Recruitment, Admissions and Awards.

Direct Exchange Scholarships  Direct Exchange Scholars receive tuition and modest monthly stipends from the partner institutions for room, board and incidental expenses. Students will generally need to supplement their stipends with their own funds or student loans to ensure enough money to travel and to participate in extracurricular activities.  For more information, please contact the Department of International Programs.

Additional funding opportunities are available on the Graduate Studies Funding page.


Graduate Teaching Assistantships

The Department of Philosophy employs qualified graduate students to teach logic, introduction to philosophy, introduction to ethics and intro to social and political philosophy. Half-time (.50 FTE) Teaching Assistants receive a nine-month student salary based on the current rate as determined by the University, in addition to a 100% remission of tuition.

Recommendations concerning Assistantships in Philosophy are made to the Chair of the Department by the Committee on Recruitment, Admissions and Awards. In making its recommendations, the Committee is especially concerned to maintain or enhance the quality of undergraduate instruction and to provide funding for, as well as recognition of, qualified graduate students. 

The Department of Humanities and Western Civilization  Many graduate students in philosophy are qualified for teaching assistantships in Humanities and Western Civilization, a required undergraduate course. The Humanities and Western Civilization program emphasizes reading, self-study, and discussion of important intellectual issues with one's peers. A discussion leader's function is to co-ordinate the discussion, and to motivate the students both to think about the readings and to draw many of the relevant implications from the readings for contemporary life. Students who are interested in applying for a Humanities and Western Civilization Teaching position should contact the Director of Humanities and Western Civilization.