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Graduate Admissions

A Note from the Admissions Director:


WELCOME TO GRADUATE ADMISSIONS AT RUTGERS! This page gives a brief overview of our Ph.D. program and the admissions process.

The Rutgers Ph.D. program is ranked by the National Research Council as the top graduate program in philosophy of the 212 departments it surveyed in the United States.  It is also ranked as one of the top two programs in the world by Gourmet Report and is currently ranked first internationally in the areas of epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of cognitive scienceWe have significant strengths across the discipline, and our large faculty have primary research interests that cover pretty much every area or subfield of philosophy. We likely have a specialist or two in any particular philosophical issue in which you may have an interest.

We have designed our Ph.D. program with flexibility in mind so that each student may follow a course of study ideally suited to his or her needs. We have very few requirements – there is no ‘general examination’ or language requirement – but there is a rigorous series of courses in the first four to five semesters by which every student can obtain a comprehensive and first-rate education in the core areas of the discipline.  After coursework is complete, students choose a sub-field in which to specialize and are closely mentored by their chosen advisor and dissertation committee members who meet with students individually to discuss dissertation progress. For a list of requirements for the Ph.D., go here.  For a list of faculty and their research interests, go here.

As an entering student, you will have the option of being assigned a program advisor, a faculty member who will track your progress and to whom you can go for questions about anything having to do with the program. While your program advisor is available to help with administrative questions relating to your course of study, members of the faculty at large are eager to help you with any aspect of your philosophical work. Our faculty enjoy interacting with our graduate students, and many graduate seminars spill over into the streets of New Brunswick or at its local eateries. Vigorous discussions between faculty and students over lunch, tea, or a pint is part of the typical Rutgers graduate experience.

One of the best things about the graduate program is our graduate students. We have a very active, philosophically intense, friendly, and supportive graduate community. As many of our incoming students have remarked over the years, our graduate students would be intimidating were it not for the fact that they are a warm and welcoming bunch. Besides informal and formal discussion of philosophy (through reading groups and graduate talks), our graduate students play soccer, form chamber music groups and rock bands, climb mountains, give talks abroad, cook gourmet meals for one another, found chapters of charitable organizations, and visit local schools to explain what philosophy is all about.

Finally, a word about the worry probably lurking at the back of your mind: Will you get a job when it’s all over? Rutgers prides itself on its very strong record of success in placing its graduates in tenure-track jobs. We take placement seriously and continue to work with our graduates even after they have landed their first job. We attempt not only to train our students to be the best philosophers they can be but to prepare them for what can only be described as a brutal job market. Our placement record can be found here.

Below is a guide for applying to the program and some miscellaneous information that you might find helpful. Questions about the program or application procedure may be directed to the Graduate Program Administrator.  This email address is being protected from spam bots, and you need javascript enabled to view it.  You can also check out our Frequently Asked Questions section for further information.

Good luck, and maybe see you in New Brunswick!

Martin Lin
Director of Graduate Admissions


Application Procedure

To apply for the Ph.D. program, you must have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

All applications must be submitted electronically. You can submit your application here.You will be asked to upload your application form, GRE scores, official transcripts, a personal statement, and a writing sample, which should ideally be between 15-25 pages. You will also be asked for three letters of reference which must be submitted electronically by the due date.

Please note that international students do not need to send us financial guarantee information (unless they are accompanied by a spouse or children) since all students admitted to the philosophy Ph.D. program receive enough financial support from Rutgers to satisfy the financial guarantee requirements.

The deadline for submission of all materials, including your letters of reference, is January 10, 2017 for admission Fall 2017.

If you have any questions about the online application form, please call 848-932-9862 or email the Graduate Program Administrator.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many Ph.D. programs should I apply to?
Answer: Since admission to the top philosophy programs is so competitive, it is usually to your advantage to apply to a wide range of programs.

2. When should I apply?
Answer: Rutgers does not have rolling admissions, so you should apply any time before the deadline for applications. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have submitted a complete application by the deadline. We strongly encourage you to submit your application and all supporting materials electronically. You can do so here.

3. What are my chances of being admitted?
Answer: We admit roughly 2-3% of approximately 300 applications received each year.

4. What are the average GRE scores and GPAs of admitted students?
Answer: On average GRE scores tend to be very high, around 96% or above, and GPAs tend to be 3.7 or above. But we have accepted students with GREs and GPAs that are significantly lower when other factors are taken into account. You should not be discouraged from applying solely on the grounds that your GREs or GPA is below these markers.

5. I've read the webpage listing the requirements for the Ph.D.  What is the typical course of study over the 5-year period?
Answer: You must begin your studies at Rutgers by fulfilling the coursework requirements, usually completed by your fourth or fifth semester.  You must then pass a Proposal Defense in order to proceed to candidacy for the Ph.D. The Proposal Defense usually occurs in anywhere between your sixth and eighth semester.

6. What is this I hear about a ‘cognitive science certificate’, and does taking the certificate extend the time it takes for me to get my Ph.D.?
Answer: One can obtain a cognitive science certificate while doing a philosophy Ph.D. at Rutgers. The decision to take the cog sci track can be made after coming to Rutgers. Students may gain the cognitive science certificate while simultaneously working towards the Ph.D. as some courses count towards both. You can find out more about the cognitive science certification here.

7. What kind of fellowship/teaching package can one typically expect to receive from Rutgers?
Answer:Our graduate students normally receive five years of financial support: three years of fellowship (during which no teaching is required), and two years of support as teaching assistants. Fellows and T.A.s qualify for health insurance and full tuition remission. (Applicants should note that there is a place on the application form to indicate that you are interested in receiving such financial aid.) Financial support beyond the fifth year is often available, but is not guaranteed. Given the requirements of the program, most students complete the Ph.D. in five years.

8. What if it takes me longer than 5 years to complete my degree?
Answer: We aim to have students complete their PhD in 5 years. But there has often been funding for one or even two years beyond that for students who are making good progress. We expect that most students who need it will be able to receive such funding in the future but such funding is not guaranteed.

9. Is summer teaching available?
Answer: Summer teaching is usually available for those who want to gain additional teaching experience. The stipend for such courses varies depending on teaching experience.

10. May I take classes in other Rutgers departments for credit toward the Ph.D. in philosophy?
Answer: We encourage cross-disciplinary study where appropriate. Which courses from other departments will qualify towards satisfaction of the Ph.D. requirements is determined on a case-by-case basis.

11. May I take philosophy classes in neighboring philosophy departments for credit toward the Ph.D. at Rutgers? 
Answer: There is a very large, vibrant, and flourishing philosophical community in the NJ-NY metropolitan area, and New Brunswick is geographically at its center. Some students audit classes at neighboring institutions such as NYU and Princeton. Credit for coursework in such classes is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

12. I am applying with a Masters in philosophy from another program. Will I get transfer credit for my Master's work?
Answer: This is determined on a case-by-case basis by the Graduate Director.

13. Do you offer a terminal Masters in philosophy?
Answer:  We have a terminal Masters in Philosophy and Law.  More information about this degree can be found here.

14. I am an international student. Will I get financial support?
Answer: Yes. All admitted students are eligible for the same fellowship package whether or not they are U.S. citizens.

15. I am an international student from a non-English-speaking country. Do I have to send in TOEFL scores?
Answer: Yes, it is a university requirement that we receive English proficiency test scores from such applicants.

16. What are your faculty members’ research interests?
Answer: Many faculty members work in areas beyond those listed as their primary research areas 

17. What are your graduate students’ research interests?
Answer: We have a very active, friendly, and supportive graduate community. A list of our graduate students and their research interests can be found here. 

18.What are the arrangements for graduate student housing?
Answer: There is graduate student housing available through the University, within walking distance of the Philosophy department. Open market housing is also available and generally quite affordable on a graduate student stipend.  

19. I am trying to decide between law school and a philosophy Ph.D program. Can I get a law degree and do a Ph.D. at Rutgers at the same time?
Answer: Yes. It is possible to arrange your course of study in the Ph.D. program so that you can obtain a law degree while working towards your Rutgers Ph.D, whether the law degree is taken at Rutgers or at a different institution. The requirements for completing the Ph.D. are the same. Details can be worked out with the Graduate Director.  You may also be interested in our Terminal Masters degree in Philosophy and Law.  See question 13.



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