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, students who have majored in a related field with extensive background in philosophy have also been successful.
The most critical components of the application are the writing sample and letters of recommendation. There is no minimum overall undergraduate GPA. However, successful applicants nearly always have an average GPA higher than 3.8 in their philosophy courses. (The same is true for overall GPA, 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 Wednesday, January 7, 2015 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.
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.
- Three letters of recommendation. Make sure that you register your recommenders when you fill out the online application, indicating clearly on the registration form the academic (or other). 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 can be sent by regular mail or 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 Scholarship, which helps sustain academic excellence and inclusiveness by offering addtional 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 (normally 3,000-5,000 words). Upload at the Writing Sample page.
- One copy of official or unofficial transcript from undergraduate institution. Upload the scanned copy at the Transcript page. Note: Official transcripts need to be sent to the Rackham Graduate School only if you are provisionally accepted by the Philosophy Department (usually in March). Directions to submit your transcript to the Rackham Graduate School 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.
We would be happy to answer any further questions you might have. Please contact our admissions staff by e-mail.