The philosophy department at the University of Kansas comprises 11 faculty members and about 35 graduate students. The department has traditionally fostered teaching and research that reflects a number of different philosophical orientations and fields of philosophy. Courses are taught on a broad range of topics. Master's theses and dissertations have had a similarly wide range of themes. The department's chief strengths are in history of philosophy (ancient, modern, 19th century), ethics, social-political philosophy, and analytic philosophy, including philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and metaphysics. The department is in Wescoe Hall, the main humanities building.

The Ph.D. degree requires 39 hours of graduate course work, including a first-year graduate tutorial and a research tutorial. Ph.D. candidates also must satisfy the University's Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement, pass both a departmental examination over the research tutorial and an oral comprehensive examination, and write and successfully defend a dissertation.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Admission to the Ph.D. in Philosophy

Apply to the graduate program via the Office of Graduate Studies online application system.

In addition to the general admission requirements from the Office of Graduate Studies, applicants are expected to have taken the following seven courses or their equivalents as preparation for graduate work:

  1. symbolic logic
  2. history of ancient philosophy
  3. history of modern philosophy
  4. history of 20th-century analytic philosophy (roughly from Frege to Quine)
  5. history of 19th/20th-century Continental philosophy
  6. value theory
  7. metaphysics/epistemology (broadly construed to include philosophy of language and philosophy of mind).

Students may be admitted without some of these courses, but they are expected to make up the deficiencies early in their graduate careers and outside of the minimum hours required for degree.

For additional information, including relevant deadlines and a list of required supplemental documentation to be submitted with the online application, please visit the graduate page of the Philosophy website, or contact the department Graduate Academic Advisor, Cari Ann Kreienhop, ckreienhop@ku.edu.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

A student preparing for a doctorate in philosophy must meet general requirements and, before officially enrolling in PHIL 999 Dissertation, must satisfy these special requirements:

Complete at least 39 credit hours of graduate work in regular philosophy courses numbered 500 or above with grades in each course of at least B– and an overall grade-point average of at least B in all graduate philosophy courses. At least 24 of these hours must be at the 800 level or above (including PHIL 800 Tutorial and PHIL 901 Ph.D. Tutorial). Beyond the 39-hour requirement, additional hours in PHIL 999 Dissertation are required as appropriate in accordance with the rules of the Office of Graduate Studies and the Department.

  1. Complete PHIL 800 Tutorial with a grade of B- or higher in the first year of enrollment.
  2. Formal Philosophy Requirement: Complete PHIL 610 Symbolic Logic or PHIL 666 Rational Choice Theory with a grade of B- or higher.
  3. Ph.D. Course Distribution Requirement:
    Metaphysics and Epistemology (6)
    Select two of the following:6
    Philosophy of Natural Science
    Philosophy of Social Science
    Philosophy of Logic
    Philosophy of Mathematics
    Philosophy of Language
    Theory of Knowledge
    Metaphysics
    Philosophy of Mind
    Topics in Recent Philosophy: _____
    Topics in Philosophy of Science: _____
    Topics in Logic: _____
    Topics in Philosophy of Language: _____
    Topics in Metaphysics: _____
    Topics in Theory of Knowledge: _____
    Topics in Philosophy of Mind: _____
    Topics in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences: _____
    Value Theory (6)
    Select two of the following:6
    Philosophy of Sex and Love
    Justice and Economic Systems
    Aesthetics
    Political Philosophy
    Contemporary Ethical Theory
    Feminist Theories in Ethics
    History of Ethics
    Philosophy of Law
    Medical Ethics: Life and Death Issues
    Medical Ethics: Professional Responsibilities
    Topics in Recent Philosophy: _____
    Topics in Ethics: _____
    Topics in Social and Political Philosophy: _____
    Topics in Law and Philosophy
    Topics in Applied Ethics: _____
    Ancient Philosophy (3)
    Select one of the following:3
    Early Greek Philosophy
    The Philosophy of Plato
    The Philosophy of Aristotle
    Hellenistic Philosophy
    Plato
    Aristotle
    Topics in the History of Philosophy: _____
    Modern Philosophy (3)
    Select one of the following:3
    Topics in the History of Philosophy: _____
    Hume
    Kant
    Nineteenth- and 20th-Century Philosophy (3)
    Select one of the following:3
    Nineteenth Century Philosophy
    Kierkegaard
    Nietzsche
    Marxism
    Existentialism
    Phenomenology
    Contemporary Continental Philosophy
    Topics in the History of Philosophy: _____
    Hegel
    Frege
    Heidegger
    Wittgenstein
    Topics in Recent Philosophy: _____
    Quine
    Davidson
    Topics in Continental Philosophy: _____ (Topic, instructor, and specific prerequisites to be announced in the Schedule of Classes.)
  4. PHIL 901 Ph.D. Tutorial: Students may not enroll in PHIL 901 before the third semester and normally should enroll in PHIL 901 no later than the sixth semester.
  5. Research Skills & Responsible Scholarship Requirement.  The University requires that every doctoral student have training in responsible scholarship and research skills pertinent to the field of research and appropriate to the doctoral level. This requirement must be met before taking the comprehensive oral exam. For Philosophy doctoral students, this requirement is met by the following:

    • PHIL 800
    • PHIL 901
    • Demonstrated competence in an approved foreign language, OR completion of a faculty-approved course in a discipline related to the student's research interests. 
  6. Pass the comprehensive oral examination for Ph.D. candidacy. This examination must be taken after all of the above requirements have been completed, or in the semester in which the requirements will be completed.
    After the oral comprehensive examination has been passed, the student must write a dissertation of substantial merit showing the planning, conduct, and result of original research and must pass a final oral examination and defense of the dissertation.

Reduction of Credits

University graduate credit policy does not allow for a direct transfer of credits toward the Ph.D.; however, the department’s requirement of 39 credit hours of acceptable graduate work for the Ph.D. may be reduced by departmental petition depending on the amount and quality of equivalent graduate work completed at another institution. At minimum, 24 hours of acceptable graduate work must be taken in the Department of Philosophy at KU.