The department no longer admits students to its MA program. Students who enter the graduate program with a BA in Philosophy are admitted directly into the PhD program.

There are three exceptions:

  • PhD students can decide to get an MA as part of their degree pursuit in order to make themselves eligible for additional professionalization opportunities, such as certain teaching positions outside the university or for higher pay within MSU.
  • PhD students who choose to leave the program before obtaining their PhD may apply for an MA degree instead.
  • Students who are funded in an MA or PhD program other than philosophy at MSU may be admitted to the MA track as dual degree students. Such students must be receiving funding from another program, as the Philosophy Department does not admit unfunded students and does not fund MA students itself. Students who want to pursue this option do not need to meet the official application deadline and are required to submit:
    • a personal statement (see below)
    • an academic statement (see below)
    • a writing sample (see below)
    • proof of being admitted to another MSU program
    • proof that they are funded for the period of the MA which is usually two years.

Admissions to our PhD program is highly competitive, as we are currently only admitting a small cohort of graduate students every year.

General information

Awards and Financial Support

Resources (such as seminars taught during the last five years)

Degree requirements

Past dissertations and doctoral placements

Current faculty

Strengths of our department

Application fee

Possible application fee waiver

Note: the philosophy department is not able to waive the application fee.

International applicants

Note: please make sure that you read the financial proof form.

Pre-arrival information for international applicants

English language competency

The TOEFL test or equivalent material that we can use as a proof of proficiency is not necessary at the first stages of the application process. We will ask applicants to provide supporting materials if we decide to offer international applicants admission to our program.

Note: we expect a high proficiency level, given that a PhD in philosophy requires an excellent command of English, both written and spoken.

How to apply

The application for admission to the graduate programs is done online. To apply, go to and fill out and submit the appropriate application form.

Official transcripts from all post-secondary education institutions you have attended should be uploaded to MSU’s electronic application system, or are either to be sent by the institution directly to the philosophy department: Department of Philosophy, Graduate Applications, 368 Farm Lane, 503 S. Kedzie Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, or should be emailed to the Graduate Program Administrative Assistant, Melissa Arthurton, at

Other supporting materials can be uploaded directly onto the application website.

Pre-Application Contact

If you have questions or would like to discuss our program, please contact the Director of the Graduate Program, Christian Lotz (

Required materials include:

  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary education institutions you have attended are to be sent by the institution directly to the Graduate Program Administrative Assistant in the Philosophy Department.
  • Three confidential letters of recommendation (uploaded by the recommender).
  • CV
  • Personal statement (please use this statement to help us understand how you became interested in philosophy, what special challenges you might have faced, what relevant experiences you might have had, and what aspirations you have for the future); the personal statement should be 450-650 words.
  • Academic statement: Please explain the nature of your work in philosophy and/or related fields thus far, your developing areas of interest, and what studies or projects you would like to pursue in graduate school. Specify how the MSU philosophy department fits with your interests and/or whether there are particular MSU faculty with whom you would like to work. The academic statement should be 600-900 words.
  • One writing sample: One philosophical essay of 5000-6500 words.

Note: the department does not require GRE scores as part of the application, but you may have them sent to us, and if we have them, we consider them.


  • You should make a clear case for why you want to get a PhD in our program. You should have a good sense of departmental strengths and faculty.
  • Your academic statement should be tailored towards our program; i.e., it should not simply consist of a template that you might use for other programs.
  • Your writing sample can be based on work that you have done in courses, but may need additional work for submission. Writing samples should be well written, clearly structured, present a clear argument, and demonstrate a solid grasp of relevant literature.

Application deadline

  • Admission is for the academic year beginning in the Fall semester. To be considered, all application materials should be received by the Department no later than December 5 of the previous year. The deadline for applications is so early because this permits us to nominate selected candidates for MSU’s prestigious University Fellowships. (
  • Admission decisions to the Ph.D. program are made by an admissions committee that considers all elements of the application dossier: academic record, letters of recommendation, academic and personal statement, writing samples, and any other materials that document capacity for graduate study in philosophy. This process is usually complete by the end of March, with acceptance or denials sent out by mid April.