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Philosophy (PHD) 
Program Description

The University of Arizona doctoral program in philosophy is among the most distinguished in the English-speaking world. Graduates of the program hold faculty positions at colleges and universities around the world.  Current areas of excellence in the doctoral program include ethics, political philosophy, the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, epistemology, metaphysics, the history of philosophy, the philosophy of science, the philosophy of law, experimental philosophy, aesthetics, and the philosophy of language. The members of the faculty are very accessible to students and are keenly interested in their philosophical development and professional success.

Department/Academic Unit(s)

Philosophy -

The study of philosophy is central to the mission of every great university.  Through an excellent undergraduate major and an internationally distinguished graduate program, the University of Arizona Department of Philosophy offers students abundant opportunities to think deeply, analytically, and autonomously about questions fundamental to the place of the person in the natural and social world.  As one of the nation's premier centers for original philosophical research, the Department is the academic home to a wonderfully dynamic and engaged community of students in daily interaction with a faculty of world-renowned philosophers.

College of Social & Behavioral Sciences  
Campus where offered
Main Campus - Tucson  
Admissions Contact
Michael S McKenna
Graduate Program Coordinator
Sandra J Kimball
Director of Graduate Studies
Mark C Timmons
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Christina M Inocencio
Tuition and Fees
Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information about tuition and fees. 
Please refer to the UA Registrar's's Office Special Course Fees for up-to-date information about special course fees. 

Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements

3 letters of recommendation from professors in previous philosophy courses
Statement of purpose
Sample of applicant's philosophical written work

Standardized Tests

Required test(s): GRE
Required GRE Subject tests: General
Recommended tests:
Recommended GRE Subject tests:  NA
Minimum GRE Verbal:  none
Minimum GRE Quantitative:  none
Minumum GRE Written:  none
Minimum GMAT:  NA
Minimum MAT:  NA
Minimum TOEFL: 550 or 79 (internet)
Minimum IELTS: 7

Financial Aid

Teaching Assistantships
Tuition and Registration Waivers

Admissions Deadlines

Domestic Applicants:

  • Fall: January 2

International Applicants:

  • Fall: January 2
International Conditional Admission
International applicants will not be considered for conditional admission by this program.
Other Information
The GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona is 4832
ETS Major Field Code(s) for this program: 2801
NRC Taxon(a) for this program: Philosophy

Completion Requirements

Degree Requirements

Minumum credits: 45 units of graduate-level course work (15 semester courses), at least 36 units allotted to one’s major field (philosophy) and the remainder to one’s minor field (either philosophy or an outside minor). For the philosophy minor, 9  units are required. For other fields, the number of units is fixed by that program. In addition to course work units, 18 units of dissertation credit is required.

Core coursework

The program of study leading to a doctorate degree in philosophy includes:

  1. Course requirements
  2. Qualifying examination or paper
  3. Comprehensive examination
  4. Dissertation

Distribution:  Two graduate-level courses with a grade of B or better in two of the following areas, and at least one graduate-level course in each of the remaining two areas:

  1. Metaphysics and Epistemology (both broadly construed),
  2. History of Philosophy: one course in Ancient philosophy and one course in Modern philosophy (normally a course covering one or more figures from Descartes to Kant),
  3. Ethics and Value Theory (including social, political, and legal philosophy),
  4. Logic, Language, and Science.

Formal requirement: 1 course in an area (e.g., mathematics or Greek) that will aid students in their research.
Logic competence requirement: This requirement may be fulfilled either by taking 1 course in formal or symbolic logic (which may be satisfied by an appropriate undergraduate course), or by passing a special logic examination to be given by the department.
Note: satisfying the logic requirement will often be sufficient for satisfying the formal requirement.
Seminar Requirements: Of the 36 units of course work required for the major, at least 18 units (6 courses) must be taken in seminars. If a student also minors in philosophy, an additional 3 units (1 course) of seminar work are required.
Proseminar: The proseminar, offered every fall semester, is intended to be an intensive introduction to philosophical methods and tools, as well as to an area of philosophy that may vary from year to year. Enrollment in the proseminar is restricted to first-year students and is mandatory for those students.
Dissertation Research Seminar: The dissertation research seminar (DRS), normally offered in the fall semester, is a 3 unit non-lecture course for advanced doctoral students in philosophy. Its purpose is to provide a forum for students to present and discuss their dissertation research. In addition to periodic presentations throughout the course, students are also required to participate in the discussion of the work of fellow students. Only three units of the DRS may count toward the minimum of 36 units of philosophy graduate courses required for the degree. However, students who have taken the seminar are strongly encouraged to enroll in it every fall semester they remain in residence.
Transfer Credits: Students transferring from other institutions may be given up to 12 units in transfer credit toward the course requirements in philosophy, at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies.
Qualifying Examination or Paper:  A student must choose between two ways of qualifying to take the comprehensive examination: either by taking a qualifying examination intended to demonstrate breadth of knowledge in a primary and secondary area of specialization, or by writing a substantial, original qualifying paper. A student must choose between these options by the start of the fourth semester in the program, in consultation with an adviser among tenure eligible departmental faculty, who may be their individual adviser, the Director of Graduate Studies, or a prospective dissertation adviser. The adviser will review the student’s choice and plan to implement it. When he or she deems the plan acceptable, (s)he will inform the Director of Graduate Studies of the choice and plan. A plan to write a paper must include agreement from two faculty members to act as a committee that will read and critique drafts of the paper and (if necessary) require revisions. A plan to take the qualifying examination must include the names of at least three faculty members, two from the student’s primary area of specialization and one from the secondary area of specialization, who have agreed to set and evaluate the examination.
Comprehensive Examination:  To become a candidate for the doctorate, written and oral examinations must be passed by the student in a major and minor field (minors other than philosophy may not require a written examination). These examinations must be attempted by the start of the fourth year in the program; students are strongly encouraged to take them by the end of the third year to be able to apply for dissertation fellowships. For this purpose, the student (in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies) should assemble a committee of four faculty members: two with expertise in the major field; two with expertise in the minor field. At least three committee members must be tenure-track faculty at the University of Arizona.
   If there are two or more negative votes, the student does not pass. In such a case, the committee may permit the student to repeat the examination or it may determine that the examination not be repeated, with this latter decision resulting in the termination of the student's eligibility for the degree and the student's removal from the program at the end of the then current semester.

Language requirements: English proficiency is one of the conditions for admission for all applicants whose native language is not English. Applicants must submit a minimum TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 550 paper based (PB), 79 internet based (iBT), or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) composite score of 7 (no subject area below a 6). Individual departments may require a higher score and may have minimum score requirements by test module that must be met to qualify for admission.
   Applicants may request, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to send an official TOEFL score report directly to The University of Arizona. Contact TOEFL Services to request the mailing of your score report. The University of Arizona institution code is 4832.
Other requirements:

Minor Requirements

For the philosophy minor, 9 units are required. For other fields, the number of units is fixed by that program.

Student Handbook  

Program StatisticsInformation about these numbers

Program-level Information
Application Acceptance Rate 4%
Med. Time-to-degree (years) 6.50
Department-level Information
Enrollment Percent Male 79%
Enrollment Percent Female 21%
Enrollment Percent International 29%
Enrollment Percent URM 2%

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Last revised 19 May 2014