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Prospective Students

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 highly ranked in a number of fields: philosophy of religion, Chinese philosophy, and aesthetics, and also have particular strengths in epistemology, philosophy of language, virtue ethics, political philosophy, and the history of modern philosophy. We also have close association with the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing, directed by Philosophy Professor Nancy Snow.

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.

We offer a terminal MA degree in philosophy. We are now offering some assistantships to MA students. These assistantships currently carry a stipend of approximately $16,000, plus 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 standard prerequisite is a Bachelor's degree in philosophy, although 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.

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 (pdf) for degree requirements and related information about the graduate program.

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 2017-2018 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 15.

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

Prof. Martin Montminy 
Director of Graduate Admissions 
Department of Philosophy 
University of Oklahoma 
Norman, OK 73019-2006

Phone: (405) 325-6324

Instructions for Applying to the Graduate Program

1) Complete the online application. Be sure to upload: 

(i) a brief statement of purpose, 
(ii) a sample of written work, 
(iii) GRE scores are not required, but you are welcome to submit them with your application, 
(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 Graduate Admissions:

University of Oklahoma
Office of Graduate Admissions
731 Elm Avenue, Robertson Hall Room 213
Norman, OK 73019

All application materials for the PhD program and for funded MA positions are due by January 15, 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.

Details about Application Materials

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.