The Philosophy Department's graduate program focuses on the Ph.D. degree. (While the Department administers a master’s program, this is principally intended for students who are pursuing advanced degrees in other academic programs at Michigan.) See Application to Ph.D. and our Admissions FAQ for more information about applying to the doctoral program.
Michigan's doctoral program in philosophy consistently places among the top five programs in national rankings. The Department offers broad and intensive training in nearly all major branches of contemporary philosophy. Our faculty have research specialties ranging from standard areas—like moral and political philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology, the philosophy of language and mind, the philosophy of science, and the history of philosophy—to more specialized fields like feminist philosophy, rational choice theory, formal epistemology, philosophy of law, and philosophy of physics. (For more information see Faculty Interests.)
The Department offers six years of full financial support (tuition + stipend + benefits) to all students admitted into the Ph.D. program, including international students. Funding involves (non-teaching) fellowships as well as appointments as a graduate student instructor. All doctoral students enjoy two semesters of (non-teaching) fellowship in the first year and at least three additional semesters of fellowship support once work has begun on the dissertation. Doctoral students typically complete all pre-dissertation requirements in three years and finish the dissertation in five to six years. No funding is available for M.A. students.
As part of our commitment to inclusion and diversity, the Department may nominate applicants (with no special application process) for the The Rackham Merit Fellowships, which provide more generous financial support and additional terms of (non-teaching) fellowship. The Merit program helps sustain a community of excellence that embraces students from many educational, cultural, geographic and familial backgrounds.
For more information, see Financial Support.
Michigan supports the study of philosophy in a variety of ways. There is a full schedule of talks given by visiting philosophers. Graduate students organize the annual Spring Colloquium which features presentations by three philosophers and comments by our graduate students. Michigan is, as well, one of nine institutions world-wide that hosts the annual Tanner Lecture for Human Values. Each year we invite a major intellectual figure to give the Tanner Lecture, which is followed by an interdisciplinary symposium involving distinguished scholars from around the world. In addition, Michigan has been host to a Philosophy and Linguistics Workshop organized by faculty and graduate students as well as a series of talks in ancient philosophy, co-sponsored by the Departments of Philosophy and Classical Studies.
As important as formal philosophical events are, informal philosophical exchange within the Department is more important still. Faculty members are readily accessible; they tend to live near campus and work in their offices, often with doors open. The Graduate Student Working Group meets frequently to discuss work in progress. Joint student-faculty discussion groups frequently develop and meet periodically on specific topics (See the Groups page).
Graduate students actively participate in Department governance. Two graduate student representatives serve on the Department's Executive Committee, and another serves on the Department's Graduate Studies Committee.
Students are encouraged to pursue complementary studies in disciplines outside philosophy, thereby drawing on the strength of Michigan's many world-class departments. They may even pursue Master’s degrees in other academic departments, like Classical Studies, Linguistics, Mathematics, Political Science, Psychology or English, or may earn a Certificate of Graduate Studies in areas such as African American and Diaspora Studies, Complex Systems, Culture and Cognition, Environmental Justice, Latina/o Studies, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Women’s Studies, just to name a few. See a full list. Students who gain admission to both the Michigan Law School and the Philosophy Department are able to pursue a joint J.D./Ph.D. degree, which typically takes seven years to complete.
Location and Facilities
The Department of Philosophy is housed in the beautiful Angell Hall, a central location within a block of the University Library and other main campus buildings, and minutes from campus area book stores, restaurants, coffee houses, and shopping.
The Department has marvelous facilities for seminars and classes, work and study, and the informal exchange of ideas. We have our own classroom for advanced courses, as well as a seminar room and a commons room for informal interaction. Graduate students have study spaces, with work areas and shelf space for individual students. There is also a separate space for graduate student instructors to hold office hours and meet with undergraduates. In addition, the University's largest computing site is located in Angell Hall.
The Department's Tanner Philosophy Library, also located in Angell Hall, is a gem. Its non-circulating collection includes over six thousand monographs and forty print journal subscriptions. There is easy access to online books and journals available at the University Library through the Tanner online catalog. The Library also holds Michigan Philosophy dissertations since 1950 and a special collection from the private library of the late William Frankena. The two main rooms of the Library provide yet an additional option for graduate work space. And just across the quad, Michigan’s University Library is among the top ten academic libraries in the country.
Ann Arbor offers many advantages as a place to live and do philosophy. Located thirty minutes west of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Ann Arbor is a city of 110,000. Only forty miles from Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, it combines the intimacy of a moderate sized university town with rich and diverse cultural resources (especially in music), and the advantages of a large metropolitan area. Many graduate students will take advantage of the easy access to Chicago and Toronto for weekend excursions or conferences.