Graduate Programs

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma offers programs of study leading to two advanced degrees: a terminal MA, either with thesis or without, and a PhD. The department offers broad training in the major fields of philosophy. We are ranked by the Philosophical Gourmet Report in philosophy of religion (top 16), Chinese philosophy (top 9) and philosophy of art (top 28), and also have particular strengths in epistemology, philosophy of science, feminist philosophy, logic, metaphysics, philosophy of language, ethics, political philosophy, and the history of ancient and modern philosophy.

An excellent teacher-to-student ratio combined with small class size assures students of a program of study with extensive interaction with faculty. In addition to classes and seminars, the department offers a rich and lively philosophical environment with an emphasis on informal interaction between faculty and students. The department has an active program of visiting speakers, graduate students and faculty organize a wide variety of reading groups, and the University Libraries have large and comprehensive holdings in philosophy.

Like many in the profession, we are concerned that philosophy has failed to keep pace with the increased number of women and minority graduate students in other disciplines. We are eager to recruit qualified women and minority applicants. We welcome applications from people with disabilities and from people of any sexual orientation and gender identity. We are highly committed to offering a positive climate for members of underrepresented groups. You can find information about some of our recent efforts here.

The Masters in Philosophy at OU: We offer a terminal MA degree in philosophy. We are now offering up to two assistantships per admissions year to MA students. These assistantships currently carry a stipend of approximately $16,000, health insurance and a tuition waiver. MA students who are not funded may complete their degrees part-time, and may begin their studies in either the fall or the spring. Students who complete their MA here may apply to the PhD program, and will compete on the same footing as all candidates applying with MA degrees in philosophy. The MA requires either 30 hours of coursework (for students who write a thesis), or 36 hours of coursework (for students who take the MA exam). The prerequisite is a Bachelor's degree in philosophy. (In exceptional cases, an applicant may be admitted with a Bachelor's degree in another field, if the applicant has completed substantial philosophy coursework.) MA students take classes alongside PhD students and receive full faculty support and attention.

The PhD in Philosophy: You may be admitted to the PhD program either with a previous MA degree in philosophy, or with only a Bachelor's degree in philosophy. If you come with an MA in philosophy, you may be granted up to 30 hours of coursework toward your PhD. This corresponds to two years' worth of coursework as a full-time PhD student. (In exceptional cases, an applicant may be admitted with a degree in another field, if the applicant has completed substantial philosophy coursework.) If you are admitted with only a Bachelor's degree in philosophy, then you will be required to complete the full 51 hours of coursework (plus 39 hours of dissertation research) here in our program. Each of our PhD students receives an assistantship. For students entering with the BA, the assistantship is guaranteed for five years, assuming satisfactory progress toward the PhD. The department has a strong record of placing our students in tenure-track positions.

See our Graduate Program Syllabus for degree requirements and related information about the graduate program.

Assistantships

Everyone who is admitted to the PhD program is automatically awarded a Graduate Assistantship, which is typically a half-time (20 hours/week) appointment. The 2014-2015 stipend is at least $16,000 per year. Tuition, up to the number of hours required for the degree, is waived for Graduate Assistants who enroll in at least 5 credit hours each spring and fall, provided they satisfy a few training and paperwork requirements. All Graduate Assistants are eligible to receive free basic single health coverage as a benefit of employment. An upgrade to a more comprehensive plan, or the addition of a spouse and/or children to one's coverage, is available by paying an additional premium.

As mentioned above, assistantships may be awarded to up to two MA students per admissions year. The application deadline for the funded MA is the same as for the PhD: January 31.

Inquiries & Applications

For information about the graduate program, you can fill out our on-line information request form and an information packet will be mailed to you.

Further inquiries about the graduate program and application procedures may be directed to:

Dr. Sherri Irvin
E-mail: sirvin@ou.edu
Director of Graduate Admissions
Department of Philosophy
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK 73019-2006

Telephone: (405) 325-6324
FAX: (405) 325-2660

Instructions for applying to our graduate program:

1) Complete the online application:
http://www.ou.edu/content/admissions/home/requirements/graduate/graduate_admission.html

Be sure to upload:
(i) a brief statement of purpose,
(ii) a sample of written work,
(iii) an unofficial scan or screen shot of your GRE scores that includes your name and identifying information as well as your scores,
(iv) unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended,
(v) contact information for 3 individuals who will submit letters of recommendation.

See below for further information about components (i)-(v).

2) Submit (by mail) an official transcript from your last degree-granting institution to the Office of Admissions:

University of Oklahoma
Office of Admissions
1000 Asp Avenue, Room 127
Norman, OK 73019-4076

All application materials for the PhD program and for funded MA positions are due by January 31, for decision in February.

All application materials for the MA program without funding are due by June 15 for fall admission and October 15 for spring admission. Earlier applications are welcome. Processing of unfunded MA applications typically takes two to four weeks from time of completed application.

A bit of explanation about the application materials:

(i) Your statement of purpose should explain why you wish to pursue an advanced degree in philosophy, why you consider yourself to be qualified to undertake such a pursuit, what areas of philosophy you expect to work in, and why you think that the OU philosophy department is the right place for you to do so. While you should feel free to include any information about yourself that you think will be relevant and helpful to the admissions committee, please keep this statement to no more than one to two single-spaced pages.

(ii) You should send a writing sample that reflects your very best philosophical work. This will typically be a paper from a philosophy class, or a senior thesis, or some other term-paper length sample of your most polished work. If you wish to send a sample from some longer work, such as a Master's thesis, please excerpt a reasonable section of it to send. Writing samples typically range from 15 to 25 double-spaced pages.

(iii) If you wish, you may submit an unofficial report of your GRE scores. This may be a scan of a score report, or a screenshot from the ETS website. The document should show your name and identifying information as well as your scores. If you are offered admission, we will request an official report. Only the general test is required. There is no official minimum score that one must get on the GRE in order to be considered for admission. The GRE score is one element of the application that is weighed along with everything else when we make admissions decisions.

(iv) You need submit (by mail) an official transcript only from the last degree-granting college or university you attended. You can upload unofficial transcripts from all others. If offered admission, you will need to submit official transcripts.

(v) Letters of recommendation are ideally from philosophy professors from whom you have taken classes or with whom you have done other intensive academic work. In their letters, they should address the extent to which you are prepared to excel in a rigorous graduate philosophy program. Indications of excellence in previous graduate or undergraduate work, estimates of potential to do well in graduate school, and rankings against other students the professors have taught are all helpful.

International applicants can find English proficiency requirements here.

International applicants do not need to supply financial information at the time of application. This information is required only if we wish to make an offer of admission.