Philosophy Graduate Program

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 (including proof of a Bachelor's degree and proof of English proficiency for non-native English speakers), the department gives priority to applicants who have prior degrees and/or advanced coursework in philosophy. The department also encourages applicants with degrees and coursework in related or adjacent fields. Applicants whose background in philosophy is minimal should note that many graduate-level courses in the department have prerequisites, which students need to fill prior to taking those courses. Such prerequisites can be completed during the program, but in some cases may require coursework beyond official degree requirements. 


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

The final deadline for Fall enrollment is May 1.

 The final deadline for Spring enrollment is December 1.

Students may begin the graduate program in either the fall or spring semester.  However, financial support is traditionally allocated per academic year. 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 their materials by the priority deadline to receive consideration. 

Application Materials:

In addition to the application materials required by KU Graduate Admissions, the Philosophy Department requires the following supplemental materials: 

Three Letters of Recommendation


A Brief Personal Statement of Academic Goals

A Writing Sample 

Please note that the Philosophy department no longer requires Graduate Record Examination Scores (verbal, quantitative, analytical). The department will, however, consider GRE scores if submitted with application materials; KU GRE Code: 6871

The Department of Philosophy Committee on Recruitment, Admission, and Awards requires applications to be complete prior to review.  


Advice on Application Materials

Letters of Recommendation

We ask you to provide us with three letters of recommendation. We use these letters to gain a richer understanding of your previous experience, performance, and skill in philosophy. These letters should come from college professors or others who have worked with you in post-secondary academic contexts—preferably philosophy courses. Letters from family friends and community leaders will in most cases carry little weight. When seeking letters of recommendation, try to give your recommenders plenty of time to do the job. To help your letter writers remember you and your work, you may wish to give them back the written work you have done in their classes. You may also send them drafts of your other application materials (resume, personal statement, writing sample) if you have them ready. Your recommenders will send their letters directly to us. There is a place in our application form for you to enter their names and contact information (after which they’ll receive an email with submission instructions). As the deadline approaches, you should check back with your letter writers to confirm that the recommendations have been sent.  


This is an opportunity for you to provide a brief survey of your relevant experiences beyond what’s indicated in your transcript and personal statement. There is no required format, nor set of items to include. We’re most interested in things that are related to your interests in philosophy and college more generally. This may include philosophical activities outside of classes (e.g., participation in philosophy club, presenting research, tutoring or grading), as well as previous employment, involvement with extracurricular clubs or organizations, volunteering, and specific training or skills.

Writing Sample

Your writing sample should be the best demonstration of your written work in philosophy. It will probably have originated in work you did for a class or in a senior thesis. If you do not have an eligible piece of writing from a philosophy course, then you should submit a paper from work in another field that demonstrates your ability to provide an argument, engage in careful textual analysis, etc. Your writing sample is likely a paper that earned a high grade, but it is always a good idea to have another look at it and see whether you can make improvements before submitting it with your application. It should be well written and exhibit clarity of thought, and it should contain some insight of your own (as opposed to merely summarizing something somebody has written). The paper need not represent your primary interests in philosophy. For instance, you might think you are mainly interested in philosophy of mind, and yet you might still submit a paper on a topic in ethics if it is your best work to date.

Personal Statement of Academic Goals

This statement is intended to give us a better sense of your background, as well as your general interest in philosophy and specific interest in our program. We’d like your statement to address the following questions: 1) what are your interests in philosophy? 2) why are you seeking a PhD in philosophy? 3) why are you interested in our program? (here it’s especially useful if you mention specific faculty you would like to work with or other features of our program/University that are of particular interest). This statement is also an opportunity to provide a narrative for anything unusual about your record or application. Your personal statement should be brief—only 1-2 pages.

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 Program Coordinator, Aley Pennington, with questions about the application process.

Aley Pennington
Graduate Program Coordinator

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