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Important Admissions Update (October 8th, 2020):  Given the Covid-19 pandemic, the School of Arts and Sciences at Penn has made the difficult decision that it will not offer funding to any incoming graduate students in AY 20-21 (choosing instead to focus on supporting current students). As a result, the philosophy department will not be considering applications to the PhD program for candidates seeking Penn funding (which is the vast majority of applicants). 

We will be considering applications from two groups of students. 

First, we will consider applications for the JD/PhD program. Admitted students to this program would need to do their first year of law school in AY 21-22.

Second, we will consider applications from students that have external funding that covers the whole five years of the program. 

Applicants need specify which type of student they are in their personal statement. Students seeking admission with external funding need to explain their external funding in the personal statement. 


The department's primary objective in graduate education is the training of candidates for the Ph.D. in Philosophy. The department offers graduate courses in the major periods of the history of philosophy as well as in the major fields of and approaches to contemporary philosophy. Although the department is not large; it has always prized breadth, and its members are prepared to supervise advanced research in a number of areas, including metaphysics and epistemology, philosophy of mind, logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of law, and the history of philosophy.

The Ph.D. program in philosophy includes course work, a language requirement, a teaching requirement, a preliminary examination, and the preparation and defense of a dissertation. First-year students must satisfy a logic requirement, either by examination or coursework at Penn, and must also enroll in a speical proseminar offered to first-year students only. The courses completed during the first two years of residence must satisfy a set of distribution requirements. For more information, consult the graduate rules, which also answer questions about transfer credit.

The department does not regularly admit students for the M.A., but it will consider applications in special circumstances. Students who wish to apply for the M.A. are encouraged to be in touch with the Graduate Chair.

The department is located on the fourth floor of Cohen Hall (36th Walkway near Spruce Street). Departmental space includes a library, common room, kitchen, faculty and graduate student offices, and the departmental office. A seminar room and lecture hall are also located on the fourth floor. A computer room for use by graduate students is located on the second floor. The University Library houses the Paul Schrecker Collection in the history of philosophy. The library's Department of Special Collections possesses one of the most extensive collections of Scholastic and Aristotelian philosophical texts in the country.