Philosophy PhD


Learn more about the Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy.

About the Program

Temple’s Department of Philosophy has strengths in several areas of philosophical study. The department has a rich history and continuing presence in the field of aesthetics as Monroe Beardsley and John Fisher were in the department for many years. The department also has expertise in European philosophy, epistemology, feminist philosophy, philosophy of mind, philosophy of race, and philosophy of science.

The PhD program is designed to provide students with a breadth of knowledge in Philosophy while emphasizing depth of knowledge through intensive work on particular philosophical issues of interest to the student. The program stresses early development of professional writing standards and oral skills. PhD students are generally given the opportunity to teach courses under the guidance of the department's Teaching Mentoring Program.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location: Main, Center City

Full-Time/Part-Time Status: Students complete the degree program through classes largely offered before 4:30 p.m. The degree program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis.

Interdisciplinary Study: The program permits students in the PhD program to take a limited number of courses in non-Philosophy programs at Temple. Many students take courses in African American Studies, Art History, English and Psychology. Students may also earn the graduate certificate in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies in conjunction with the PhD in Philosophy. A dual-degree program earning the PhD in Philosophy/MA in Urban Bioethics is also now being offered with the Lewis Katz School of Medicine.

Affiliation(s): The Greater Philadelphia Consortium provides expanded course options for graduate work in Philosophy. Students enrolled in the PhD program at Temple may take graduate courses at the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University.

Job Prospects: Graduates typically find employment in college or university teaching and research. A departmental placement committee assists students with the job search.

Non-Matriculated Student Policy: Non-matriculated students may register for courses after an interview with the Director of Graduate Studies, at which time they should present academic transcripts. Credit toward a subsequent degree program at Temple University is limited to 9 credits.

Financing Opportunities: Support is available in the form of University Fellowships, Teaching Assistantships, and Academic Internships. University Fellows are typically supported with a stipend and full tuition remission for four years, teaching for two of those years. Teaching Assistants are typically required to teach introductory philosophy courses or recitation sections in large courses taught by professors. They receive a stipend and full tuition remission. All PhD applications are automatically considered for financial aid.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: January 15

Admission is competitive and determined only once a year. Applications to the PhD program are automatically considered for financial aid.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:
Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from college/university faculty members familiar with your academic competence.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration: Applicants typically have majored or minored in Philosophy for their bachelor’s degree.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: A master's degree is not required.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: A baccalaureate degree in Philosophy is standard, although not mandatory, for admission into the program.

Statement of Goals: In approximately 500 to 1,000 words, address your interest in Temple's program, research goals, future career goals, and academic and research achievements.

Standardized Test Scores:
GRE: Optional. Scores may be submitted if available.

Applicants who earned their baccalaureate degree from an institution where the language of instruction was other than English, with the exception of those who subsequently earned a master’s degree at a U.S. institution, must report scores for a standardized test of English that meet these minimums:

  • TOEFL iBT: 105
  • IELTS Academic: 7.0
  • PTE Academic: 72

Writing Sample: The writing sample should demonstrate your ability to research and write a scholarly paper. The paper should be 15-20 pages in length and fully referenced according to a professional, scholarly style manual. It should be in the field of Philosophy or a closely related area.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required to Earn the Degree: 42

Required Courses:

Core Courses
Epistemology/Metaphysics Course3
History of Philosophy Courses9
Select one course each in Ancient, Kant/Hegel, and 17th/18th Century Philosophy
Values/Ethics Course3
Electives 121
Research Courses6
Preliminary Examination Preparation
Pre-Dissertation Research
Dissertation Research
Total Credit Hours42

For a current copy of the Departmental Graduate Handbook, which lists all requirements, email or call 215-204-1742.

Language/Logic Examination: Students must pass either a written proficiency examination in French, German, or Ancient Greek, or a logic examination. Other languages may be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, provided the student makes a compelling case that the language in question is useful for dissertation work.

Culminating Events:
Dissertation Advising:
It is the student’s responsibility, in consultation with their primary advisor, to assemble three advisory committees. It is best to form a committee that gives the student a variety of sympathetic but critical perspectives on the project. Three distinct committees, which are largely composed of the same members, must be in place at different phases of the proposal and dissertation processes. The committee guidelines are outlined below:

  1. Proposal Advisory Committee: This committee guides the student through the preparation and defense of their dissertation proposal. The Proposal Advisory Committee is composed of three Graduate Faculty members from the Philosophy Department. One member is named Chair. Additional members from outside the Philosophy Department may be included with written approval from the Chair and the Graduate School. Normally, the Proposal Advisory Committee becomes the Doctoral Advisory Committee upon approval of the proposal.
  2. Doctoral Advisory Committee: This committee guides the student through all stages of the dissertation. The Doctoral Advisory Committee must be in compliance with University guidelines as prescribed by the Graduate School. The committee must be composed of at least three Temple University Graduate Faculty members, two of whom must be from the Philosophy Department. A member of the committee from the Philosophy Department is named Chair.
    If changes must be made in the Doctoral Advisory Committee after the student is elevated to candidacy, such changes must be approved by the Chair of the Advisory Committee and the Graduate School. A "Request for Change in Dissertation Committee" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms,” must be filed.
  3. Dissertation Examining Committee: This committee consists of the Doctoral Advisory Committee plus one Graduate Faculty member from outside Temple’s Philosophy Department OR one Outside Examiner. The Outside Examiner may be from another academic institution; should not have been a part of the dissertation writing process or the Doctoral Advisory Committee; and must be approved at least two weeks prior to the defense. The Chair of the Dissertation Examining Committee must be a member of the Temple University Graduate Faculty, but may not be the Chair of the student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee. The Chair of the Dissertation Examining Committee must be identified when the defense is posted through the Graduate School.

Preliminary Examinations:
The preliminary examinations consist of writing original research papers in:

  1. History of Philosophy, defined as Ancient Philosophy through the end of the 19th Century; and 
  2. Contemporary Philosophy, emphasizing constructivist, analytical or other philosophical approaches to a particular issue.

Students may submit either the historical or the contemporary paper first. These papers are typically developed from a student's best coursework papers and are generally revised through consultation with the professors who originally evaluated them. The papers should aspire to meet the standards of publication. NOTE: A successful course paper typically requires considerable work to become a successful preliminary paper. Preliminary examination essays should show both a mastery of relevant primary and secondary literature and put forward ideas that are an original contribution to the field. Graduate students are strongly encouraged to consult with faculty several months before their preliminary examination essays are due.

The first Preliminary Examination Paper is due by 4:00 p.m. on the second Monday in October at the beginning of the student's second year, and the second paper submission is due by 4:00 p.m. on the second Monday in October at the beginning of the student's third year. Papers must be prepared for blind review and submitted via e-mail to the Graduate Coordinator. Papers should include an abstract of not more than 200 words.

All papers are prepared for blind review and evaluated by three faculty members. Papers are graded High Pass/Pass/Borderline/Fail. Papers must receive at least two grades of Pass in order to pass. Papers that receive two Borderline grades, a Fail and a Borderline, or two Fail grades automatically fail. Students get a second chance on each of the preliminary papers, but students who fail a preliminary examination twice are dismissed from the program. Second-year students who fail a preliminary examination resubmit, along with their second preliminary examination, in the October of their third year. Third-year students who fail a preliminary examination for the first time resubmit by 4:00 p.m. on the second Monday of the following February.

Students must be registered for at least one credit of PHIL 9994 Preliminary Examination Preparation in the terms in which they submit their preliminary examinations. Students who are required to resubmit their preliminary examinations must re-register for one credit hour of PHIL 9994 in the term in which the exam is to be resubmitted.

Dissertation Proposal:
The dissertation proposal is an opportunity for the student to develop and clearly articulate the project of the dissertation. The dissertation proposal has two components: written and oral. The written component should be 15-20 pages in length and include a statement of the problem, a critical literature review, and a sketch of how the student intends to address the philosophical problem(s) at hand. The student needs to make clear how the dissertation will be an original contribution to the field of philosophy. A detailed bibliography and chapter outline are also expected. The approved dissertation proposal serves as a contract between the student and their Doctoral Advisory Committee; the student agrees to complete the work outlined in the proposal under the guidance of the Doctoral Advisory Committee.

When the written component of the proposal is judged ready by the Proposal Advisory Committee, an oral examination date is set. At least two weeks before this examination, the defense is announced to the department faculty and at least two copies of the written proposal are made available in the Graduate Coordinator’s office.

The oral examination, which is conducted by the Proposal Advisory Committee, constitutes an opportunity for the student’s committee to make positive suggestions as well as to test the candidate’s preparedness. Other faculty may attend the oral examination and ask questions after the Proposal Advisory Committee has completed its questioning. The Proposal Advisory Committee decides, by majority vote, whether the candidate passes or fails the written and oral parts of the dissertation proposal.

The dissertation should constitute a definitive and original contribution to the field of philosophy. It needs to show mastery of the relevant philosophical literature. The dissertation should be in the hands of the Dissertation Examining Committee by October 1 for December graduation and by March 1 for May graduation.

All PhD students must formally and publicly defend their dissertations before the Dissertation Examining Committee. The candidate must submit the official, signed notice of the oral defense to the Graduate School 10 or more working days before the scheduled defense. A defense cannot be held without written confirmation of approval and receipt of the defense paperwork from the Graduate School.

The defense should be announced publicly and is open to all members of the University. During the defense, primary questioning is restricted to the members of the Dissertation Examining Committee. Then, Philosophy Department faculty members who have submitted written questions in advance may address the candidate. Lastly, other members of the Philosophy Department faculty may address the candidate. The Dissertation Examining Committee decides, by majority vote, whether the candidate passes or fails.


Program Web Address:

Department Information:

Dept. of Philosophy

731 Mazur Hall

1114 W. Polett Walk

Philadelphia, PA 19122-6090


Submission Address for Application Materials:

Department Contacts:


Irina Segal


Director of Graduate Studies:

David Wolfsdorf, PhD


David Wolfsdorf, PhD