Skip to Content

Application to Ph.D.

The Department seeks to enroll about five first-year doctoral students per year. Since this usually represents about 2% of applicants, the admissions process is exceedingly selective. Successful applicants have typically majored in philosophy as undergraduates or have gone on to do MA degrees in philosophy. However, to apply to our PhD program, applicant transcripts must show at least 5 previous philosophy courses.

There is no minimum overall undergraduate GPA.  However, successful applicants nearly always have an average GPA higher than 3.8 in their philosophy courses. (They also tend to have exceptional overall GPAs, but we pay most attention to grades in philosophy courses.)  In considering your GPA, we will certainly take into account the varying difficulty of courses, the varying degrees of grade inflation among institutions, and any relevant circumstances you discuss in your personal statement.

The deadline for receipt of applications for both admission and financial aid is December 8, 2017 for all applicants. (The Department only admits new Ph.D. students for entrance in September.) All decisions are made by March 15 and will be immediately available online. Admitted and wait-listed students will also be contacted directly.

We welcome applications from international students and they are also eligibile for full financial support. Rackham Admissions has information to support international students specifically. 

Read President mark Schlissel's State on Protecting the Interests of our International Community of Scholars.

To apply to the Ph.D. program, please fill out an online application via the Rackham Graduate School website. If, for any reason, you are unable to use the online resources, please contact us by e-mail. There are fee waivers and need-based fee grants available to those who qualify. 

The following are needed for consideration to the Ph.D. program in Philosophy. It is strongly encouraged that you submit all materials by uploading into your online application.

  • Completed Rackham Graduate School online application.
  • At least three letters of recommendation. Make sure that you register your recommenders when you fill out the online application. Letters should be uploaded by recommenders into the online application system.  (If you wish to submit any additional letters of recommendation, use this Letter of Recommendation form, which should accompany all letters. Any additional letters are to be sent to the Philosophy Department and should be sent by your recommender as a PDF attachment to an e-mail message.) 
  • Academic Statement (500 word limit). Please explain briefly the nature of your study in philosophy or related fields thus far, your current primary areas of interest (if known), what studies you would like to pursue in graduate school, and whether there are any Michigan faculty with whom you would especially like to work. Upload this at the Academic Statement page.
  • Personal Statement (500 word limit). Please use this statement to help us understand how  you have come to be interested in philosophy, what special challenges you might have faced, what relevant experiences you might have had, and what aspirations you have for the future. You may wish to mention facts that may be relevant to your being considered for a Rackham Merit Fellowship, which helps sustain academic excellence and inclusiveness by offering additional financial assistance to students with diverse experiences, goals, and familial backgrounds (see here). Upload this at the Personal Statement page.
  • A sample of philosophical writing (word limit: 7,000 words). Upload at the Writing Sample page.
  • One copy of unofficial transcript from degree-granting institutions. Upload the scanned copy at the Transcript page.  Official transcripts should be submitted to Rackham Graduate School; directions to do so can be found here
  • Resume or CV. Upload at the Resume or CV page.

You may also (optionally) supply your scores on the aptitude portions of the Graduate Record Examination. (Not the 'philosophy achievement' test, however.) To have your scores reported directly to the University of Michigan, please use code number 1839.

You are fully responsible for the submission of a complete application. You will be able to keep track of which materials for your application have arrived and which ones are still outstanding by consulting your Web Application Status page, to which you will have access once Rackham has received your application and application fee. If you see a status of "Application Incomplete," and you believe you have submitted all of your materials, it is most likely because your official transcript has not yet been received and processed.

We would be happy to answer any further questions you might have. Please contact our admissions staff by e-mail.