Graduate Admissions

How to Apply

For deadlines and other information, please visit the Arts & Sciences Office of Graduate Studies Admissions page.


Be sure to include:

  • a statement of purpose of around 600-1,200 words, and
  • a writing sample of around 3,000-5,000 words (exclusive of footnotes and references) that demonstrates philosophical ability.

Frequently Asked Questions about Admissions

What are the most important parts of my application?

The most important parts of your application are the writing sample and the statement of purpose.  The writing sample is our best evidence as to your philosophical abilities. The area of philosophy that you write about is much less important than that you demonstrate the ability to think clearly and rigorously.  Your statement of purpose should explain your academic interests and why you think that they would best be served by our philosophy department.

Is the GRE required?


GRE scores are optional.  We know that there are people who do not perform well on such tests, for various reasons, and who would still make excellent philosophers. Nevertheless, good GRE scores may be taken into consideration.

Is there a minimum TOEFL or IELTS score?

The College of Arts & Sciences requires a TOEFL score of at least 90 or IELTS of at least 6.5

We expect that students be fluent in English when they arrive, to get the most out of the program.  In assessing an applicant's English ability, we take into consideration test scores, writing samples, statements of purpose, and recommendaton letters.

Is the support of a research supervisor required for admission?

No.  The support of individual faculty members is neither necessary nor sufficient for admission.  Admissions decisions for the Philosophy and PNP PhD programs are made by an admissions committee.  Applicants do not need to contact individual faculty members in advance of applying to secure their support. 

Can additional reommendation letters be submitted with an application?

Yes. Three letters of recommendation may be submitted through the online application. Additional letters of recommendation can be added by the department; please email the Philosophy department administrator all the contact information listed for recommenders on the online application and then have your recommender email their letter to the Philosophy department administrator.

Can the application fee be waived?

Yes.  Fee waiver requests should be addressed to the Arts & Sciences Office of Graduate Studies at

Are official transcripts required?

No. You can submit unofficial transcripts when you apply.  If admission is offered, we then require the official versions of all transcripts.

I did not become interested in philosophy until late in my undergraduate career. Is this a problem?

Not necessarily. We look primarily for philosophical aptitude. Most applicants who have a stronger background in philosophy have an easier time giving evidence of their philosophical aptitude, and we do advise those who have not studied much philosophy to look into terminal master's programs. But we welcome applications from a wide range of backgrounds, and we have accepted students who show great promise in philosophy despite a relatively weak background in the field.

Does admission to the PNP program require undergraduate training in philosophy?

No.  However,  applicants must demonstrate a strong competence in and aptitude for philosophy.  Students with strong backgrounds in any academic discipline are invited to apply.

I have been offered a place in the Philosophy or PNP PhD program. Can I come to campus to look around?

In March of each year, we invite all applicants to whom we have made offers to campus. Of course, we cover the travel, housing, and dining expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions about Our Programs

What is the relationship between the Philosophy PhD program and the PNP PhD program?

Both programs are administered by the Philosophy Department and students in both programs are members of the Philosophy Department.  Philosophy students are welcome to take PNP courses and participate in PNP events.  All philosophy faculty, whether they are appointed in PNP or not, can serve as dissertation advisors and as dissertation committee members for Philosophy and PNP students.

Are students fully funded?

Yes. All students admitted to our programs are offered an Arts & Sciences Fellowship that provides a stipend, tuition remission, and subsidized health insurance. 

We also provide some funds for travel to conferences.

WashU offers several special fellowships for qualified graduate students, and because these awards bring with them additional funding and opportunities, all applicants are encouraged to consider their eligibility.

Do you offer a terminal MA?

No.  However, our PhD students can earn an MA after completing certain requirements.

Can PhD students transfer credits from another institution?

No.  However, waivers of course requirements may be granted in certain cases. 

I want to pursue a second degree (MD, JD, MA, PhD), in addition to the PhD in Philosophy or PNP. Is this possible?

We do not participate in any formal dual or joint degree program.  It is possible to pursue multiple graduate degrees at WashU by applying (not necessarily simultaneously) to multiple graduate programs.

In general, students who pursue multiple graduate degrees with us do not work full-time on both degrees simultaneously, but rather are (say) enrolled in one program for one academic year and then enrolled in the other program the following year, and so on.

Our PhD students can take courses in other disciplines, including Classics; Law; Political Science, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  These courses may count both toward both the Philosophy or PNP PhD and toward another program's requirements for a graduate certificate (which does not require separately applying) or a degree (which does).

I am a student in another graduate program at WashU. Can I earn an MA or PhD in Philosophy or PNP?

To receive a degree in Philosophy or PNP, you have to apply to one of our PhD programs and be admitted.

However, students in other WashU programs are welcome to take graduate courses in Philosophy, subject to the published prerequisites. 

Further Questions

If you have a question about applying to our program that is not addressed here, please contact us at or at 314-935-6670.