The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Philosophy - PhD

Division: Humanities
Degree Type: PhD

Program Description

There are three characteristic sorts of disciplinary divisions that tend to leave a philosophy department in a condition in which its whole becomes less than the sum of its parts: (1) between those who are concerned with the systematic study of issues in contemporary philosophy and those who are concerned with the interpretation of classic historical figures and texts; (2) between specialists in theoretical philosophy and specialists in practical philosophy; and (3) between those who take their problems, methods, and overall orientation from the analytic tradition and those who take theirs from the Continental tradition. The Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago is distinctive in its freedom from all three such forms of division within its philosophical community.

While we are a "full service" department in the western philosophical tradition, with its center of gravity in the analytic tradition of philosophy, there are certain areas of distinctive strength or character in the Department that merit special mention, a number of which fall outside the scope of that tradition, at least as it is usually conceived.

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Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: December 15

The Department of Philosophy admits applicants once a year for the following Autumn Quarter. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered for financial aid.

Campus Visits

Interviews are not required; however, you are welcome to visit campus, sit in on classes, and meet with current students. You may contact faculty with questions, but there is no expectation that you do so.

Degree Objective

The Department of Philosophy admits applicants only for the PhD degree. We do not offer an MA program. If you are seeking an MA and wish to study in philosophy, consider the Master of Arts Program in Humanities (MAPH).

Application Requirements

  1. Online Application Form and Supplemental Form
  2. Non-refundable application fee
  3. References:  Three Letters of reference should be included with your application
  4. GRE and TOEFL Scores: GRE scores (general test only) are required of all applicants, including those with previous MAs. For information on additional examinations required of some international applications, see the Test Requirements page on the divisional website. The University’s GRE code is 1832.
  5. Statement of Academic Purpose:  Applicants should carefully state their purpose in pursuing a graduate degree. This statement is given considerable weight in the final decision regarding admission.
  6. Writing Sample:  Applicants should submit a sample of their scholarly writing that is between 15 and 20 pages in length.
  7. Transcripts:  Official transcripts from all post-secondary educational institutions should be submitted with your application.

Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions typically are released in early March. No decisions will ever be given by phone, and no decisions will be given to those who inquire by email before early March. Direct all questions about your application directly to the admissions office.

Program Requirements

The Program consists of four components. (1) During the first two years, students take 12 courses, six of which satisfy distribution requirements in the three main areas of contemporary philosophy and in the history of philosophy. (2) At the end of the second year and the beginning of the third year, the student writes the Preliminary Essay (an independent piece of work that goes through a process of drafts, criticism by faculty advisors, and revision). (3) During the last two and a half years of the Program, the student writes the PhD dissertation under the direction of a faculty committee. (4) Over the last three years of the Program, student also gains teaching experience, first as an assistant in faculty-taught lecture courses and then as a teacher in stand-alone tutorials and small courses. In addition to lecture courses and seminars, students and faculty participate in a variety of workshops and reading groups in all of which, though to different degrees, students present their own work for criticism by their peers.

Costs & Financial Aid

For information on costs and financial aid, contact the departmental office directly.