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Graduate Program

Overview | For Applicants | Sending Applications | Contact

The information on this page is to assist prospective graduate students in their application process.

Those interested in becoming a special student or visiting fellow should contact the Special Students/Visiting Fellows Office -- the contact information is located in the lower right-hand corner of the page.

Overview & General Requirements

The Department of Philosophy offers a program covering a wide range of fields in systematic philosophy and the history of philosophy.

The Department's special strengths lie in moral and political philosophy, aesthetics, epistemology, philosophy of logic, philosophy of language, the history of analytic philosophy, ancient philosophy, Kant, and Wittgenstein.

The department typically expects an entering class of five to eight students. We receive nearly 300 applications each year.

The GSAS Website lists the General Requirements for the Ph.D. in philosophy, the Ph.D. in Classical Philosophy, and the joint J.D./Ph.D. Complete information about the J.D./Ph.D. can be found on the Harvard Law School Website.

Prospective students may also be interested in learning about:
*The dissertations currently being pursued by our graduate students
*Graduate life & activities
*Philosophy Prizes for which they may compete
*The Department's placement record over the last fifteen years
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For Applicants

Prospective students should keep the following requirements in mind when preparing their application materials:
Admissions Process  
Complete information about the GSAS admissions process can be found here.

All
questions in regards to the actual application process and to financial aid should be directed to the GSAS Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, not to the Department, Director of Graduate Admissions, Director of Graduate Studies, or to the Department Webmaster.
Background in Philosophy  
The Department requires that applicants have obtained a solid undergraduate background in philosophy, indicating that the student has a good grounding in the history of philosophy, as well as familiarity with contemporary work in ethics, epistemology and metaphysics, and logic.
GRE  
Applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE); students need take only the general section.
Potential  
The Admissions Committee looks for evidence of outstanding potential in the field of philosophy as shown in the applicant's academic record, letters of recommendation, and Statement of Purpose on the application form.
TOEFL  

Applicants whose native language is not English and whose undergraduate degree is not from an institution whose language of instruction is English must also take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Completing a Master's Degree at an institution at which the language of instruction is English does *not* exempt students from the TOEFL requirement.

Writing Sample  
Submission Options: The writing sample is to be submitted electronically, as part of the electronic application process; it may no longer be submitted in hard copy. See below for the link to apply online.

Scope:
The sample must address a substantial philosophical problem, whether it is an evaluation or presentation of an argument, or a serious attempt to interpret a difficult text.

Length:
In general, the writing sample should be at least 12-15 pages long, but no more than 40 pages; a rough maximum length would be about 25 pages. The Admissions Committee generally does not have time to read papers longer than this.

Format: The writing sample should be submitted in electronic format, formatted for 8.5-inch x 11-inch paper, 1-inch margins, with double-spaced text in a common 12 pt. font, such as Times New Roman.
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Where to Send Applications

To reiterate: all application materials for the graduate program should be sent electronically to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), not directly to the Department, the Director of Graduate Admissions, or the Director of Graduate Studies.

The link to apply online is immediately below.

Please note that the application process has moved entirely online; prospective students should go here to fill out and complete their online application.
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Contacts

Professor Bernhard Nickel, Director of Graduate Admissions
bnickel@fas.harvard.edu

Professor Mark Richard, Director of Graduate Studies
617-495-0386
richard4@fas.harvard.edu
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