The information about our graduate admissions process provided below is organized into eight sections as follows:
If you are primarily interested at the moment in a particular topic, then you may want to skip to the relevant section below.
Regardless of where you are applying from, if you decide that you do want to apply to our graduate program in philosophy, then before doing so we strongly encourage you to read through all eight of the sections below.
1. Overview of the Admissions Process
The graduate program in philosophy at the University of Chicago is primarily a doctoral program. We do not normally admit students who seek only a masters degree (though a masters degree is available to those students who meet the requirements for it in the course of their doctoral studies). We do not consider applications from applicants who already have a PhD in Philosophy.
Completed graduate applications are due on December 15th. Applications must be submitted online. Paper applications are no longer used.
Applicants will be notified of the results of their application for admission, at the earliest, in early February, and, at the latest, by early March. If admitted, an applicant must either accept or decline the offer of admission by April 15. Students who accept an offer of admission will matriculate in the fall.
In recent years, the Philosophy Department has been receiving around 250 graduate applications per year. A large number of these are from highly qualified applicants---many more than the program can reasonably accommodate (not to mention, support financially). Each year, the Department offers admission with full five-year fellowship support to about ten applicants. (Full fellowship means tuition remission plus a reasonably comfortable twelve-month living stipend, plus health insurance. For more information about graduate student fellowships and funding, please click here.) Every student admitted to our program receives exactly the same funding package. Moreover, fellowship offers that are declined are not re-offered to another applicant; so there is never a "waiting list." The Department is philosophically opposed to waiting lists for the same reason that we are opposed to offering different aid packages to different students. We want all of the prospective graduate students whom we admit to our program to be entering on exactly the same footing and with the same terms. We have great confidence that through our admissions process (described below) we generally succeed in identifying the top ten applicants each year. Once we admit these students, we do our best to help each one succeed in the program, with the aim of placing every individual who completes our program into a tenure-track job in North America or the nearest equivalent thereof in another country.
Each year we do our best to try first to identify the top ten applicants, then to contact them a.s.a.p; to urge them all to visit our department at the same time (during the first week of our spring quarter); and, finally, to do our best to convince them to accept our offers of admission. The size of our incoming graduate class each year is a function of how many of these ten offers are accepted. The average size of the first-year class entering our graduate program each year is between six and seven, but individual class sizes can vary between four and ten students. The size of our most recent incoming class is six. (Note: Admission and aid offers cannot be deferred until a later year; they can only be accepted or declined for the year for which they are offered.) All students admitted to the PhD Program in Philosophy at the University of Chicago are admitted with full funding, guaranteed for five years, with sixth-year dissertation-year fellowship funding available if the student makes adequate progress throughout the first five years of the program. (Dissertation-year fellowships are awarded to students who are in a position to complete their dissertations within 18 months of receiving the fellowship. For more information about dissertation-year fellowship eligibility, please click here.) There are also various additional forms of funding available to our graduate students that are awarded on a competitive basis, especially in the form of teaching assistantships and preceptorships. (For more information about teaching opportunities, please click here.) Graduate students admitted to the program are expected to do a certain minimum amount of teaching in return for their financial aid package. (For more information about the graduate program's teaching requirement, please click here.) All additional teaching beyond the minimum required amount will be financially remunerated. There is a strict policy in place concerning the extent to which students in their first five years of the graduate program may do additional teaching. (For more information on this policy, please click here).
We are concerned to preserve a very favorable ratio of faculty to graduate students and to be able fully to fund all of our graduate students throughout their time in our PhD program. The aim in each year is to matriculate an incoming class of about six new PhD students in Philosophy. It is with this aim in mind that we admit an average of ten students per year to our program.Thus, in the average year, we admit about 4% of the applicants to our program. In practice, this means that each year there are a great many very strong applicants whom we are unable to admit.
Finally, as with all humanities departments here, the Philosophy Department customarily refers a select group of qualified applicants (in our case, typically from the top fifth of the applicant pool) to the University's Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH). These are excellent students who, for one reason or another, could not be admitted to the doctoral program, but who might nevertheless profit from a year of graduate studyincluding but not limited to graduate study in philosophyat the University of Chicago. A referral from the Philosophy Department does not guarantee admission to MAPH; but it is generally quite helpful. Any student enrolled in or having completed the MAPH program may, of course, apply (or re-apply) to the doctoral program in philosophy. Those applications will be considered fully on their merits along with all the others received in the same year.
2. The Required Elements of the Application
All of the components of your application are important and will receive careful scrutiny by our graduate admissions committee. The single most important credential in your application, however, is by far and away your writing sample. The reason for this is simple: All of the other credentials included in your application provide indirect indicators of your ability to do first-rate work in philosophy; your writing sample provides direct evidence of such an ability. (For more about the writing sample, see below.) An excellent writing sample is therefore a necessary, though by no means sufficient condition of admission to our program.The rest of the application provides the broader context within which we evaluate the writing sample. All of the other components of your application are therefore also essential to your application. We cannot admit someone whose application is incomplete in any respect. And we are unlikely to admit an applicant if one of the other components of their application raises ground for concern regarding their ability to succeed in graduate school that belies the evidence of philosophical ability furnished by even an excellent writing sample.
A bachelors degree (or equivalent) is required for admission to the graduate program. (Of course, you needn't have finished your degree at the time of application; but you must have the degree to matriculate.) Significant background in philosophy is also normally required for admission to the graduate program in the Philosophy Department. Most often, this will take the form of an undergraduate major in philosophy; but a masters degree in philosophy is also acceptable, as is anything else that evidences comparable preparedness for graduate-level work in the field.
It should be mentioned that a masters degree in itself is neither an asset nor a liability in applying to our program. What we care about is the applicant's aptitude for philosophy and readiness for graduate-level work. A masters degree is relevant only insofar as it sheds light on these. (Work done in masters programs elsewhere is not counted toward satisfying program requirements here. Applicants ;interested in transferring course credits for courses completed in another postgraduate program may want to consult our policy on transfer credits, available here.) Applicants who already have a PhD in Philosophy from another institution are not eligible for admission to our PhD program.
In addition to the standard Humanities Division forms and application fee, a complete application to the Philosophy Department will include:
All of the above should be in English, or accompanied by English translations. It is particularly important for non-native speakers to demonstrate their competence to read, write, and participate in class discussions in English. Your writing sample and personal statement must be written by you, in English.
The personal statement is not, strictly speaking, an admissions credential. But, even when it comes to this document, it's certainly better to sound interesting, sensible, and serious than the opposite. Your one-page personal statement is not the place to try to cram in additional evidence of your philosophical ability. Keep it short and to the point. It should focus on stating facts: facts about the philosophical work you have done to date, about your primary philosophical interests and goals going forward in the future -- and, in particular, about the specific areas of philosophy in which you presently expect that you would most like to concentrate while in graduate school, along with your reasons for thinking that the University of Chicago might be a good place at which to pursue these particular goals and interests. In addition, if there is anything unusual about your philosophical trajectory or academic career that you think we should know,your personal statement is the place to provide that information. In particular, if there are significant portions of time over the course of your academic career when you have not been enrolled as a student,we would appreciate it if you would provide us with a brief indication of what you were doing during those periods of time.
We cannot admit you without up-to-date transcripts of all your post-secondary school education: no such transcript may be omitted. If you are applying from another country and you anticipate that we might have difficulty deciphering your transcript(s), then any additional guidance with which you, or especially your professors (who are writing letters for you), can provide us in interpreting your transcript will be appreciated. We also cannot admit you without official documentation of your Graduate Record Examination scores. In evaluating the scores of applicants, we do take into account that these examinations are more difficult for non-native speakers of English and we make some allowance for that. For this reason, it is all the more imperative that non-native speakers of English take the TOEFL exam, if they are not in a position to supply us with academic transcripts from an English-language college or university located in an anglophone country. Such applicants must score adequately on all three parts of the TOEFL exam. For more information regarding what counts as acceptable TOEFL scores for consideration for admission to the University of Chicago, please click here.
The three parts of the GRE examination supposedly test for verbal, quantative, and analytical reasoning skills. Be that as it may, the one ability which all three of these tests certainly do measure is your ability to take such tests, where a paramount dimension of the ability in question is a time-management skill. It is rather difficult to have this particular skill sufficiently honed to do well on these tests without spending some time working on practice tests prior to actually taking the test for an official score. It is essential here that when you practice for the test that you hold yourself to the specific time restrictions which apply under actual test conditions. If you do not do well on some part of the test the first time you take it, you may take the test again. Our policy is to look at an applicant's best scores for each section of the test and to throw out the lower scores.
For more information and advice about the character of your confidential letters of recommendation and your writing sample, see below.
Any special application materials which for some reason cannot be submitted electronically may be mailed directly to the Office of the Dean of Students:
Office of the Dean of Students
Division of the Humanities
The University of Chicago
1115 E. 58th Street
Walker Museum, Suite 111
Chicago, IL 60637
Otherwise all application materials, including the general application should be submitted electronically via the instructions on the Humanities Division's applications page. In the absence of special circumstances beyond the applicant's control, all applications must be complete by the official deadline of December 15. Any additional late application materials submitted after January 1st should, if possible, in addition to being submitted to the Humanities Division applications page, be emailed in electronic form directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Philosophy Department does not use personal interviews as any part of the graduate admissions decision process. However, prospective students may very well want to visit the Department (not to mention, the University and the city of Chicago) for their own information. Such visits make much more sense—and we can be considerably better hosts for them—after our admissions decisions have been made and announced. Indeed, we highly encourage visits at that time, and will make arrangements to ensure that you have a maximally productive visit, scheduling several receptions, appointments with individual faculty members, and many opportunities to meet and talk with current graduate students. What's more, we are then usually able to arrange accommodations and help in defraying travel expenses. For more information about campus visits, please see below.
3. The Review Process
Graduate admissions decisions are based on a delicate balance of objective criteria, experience, and professional judgment. That is why all admissions committees rely on a variety of different credentials, and also why their decisions are not always the same. Students who may look much the same "by the numbers" will fare differently at different places (one will be admitted here, not there; the other, vice versa). The following information is intended to give prospective applicants a rough feel for the graduate admissions process in the Philosophy Department at the University of Chicago. At other departments and schools, there will be differences of detail and emphasis in the way in which the admissions process is conducted; but overall at most places in North America, it will be more similar than different.
The review process divides into four phases: (1) a first-cut in which the initial applicant pool (of about 250 or so complete dossiers) is narrowed down to about forty or so, (2) a careful review of the writing samples of the candidates whose dossiers survived the first cut, (3) a reconsideration of all of the elements of the application of those candidates whose writing samples were deemed strongest in the previous phase, with an aim to determining a list of the top twenty applicants, and (4) a final deliberation aimed at narrowing the remaining top twenty applications down to the top ten. Those remaining ten applicants are then awarded offers of admission. What is unusual about the admissions process in our department is that the second and the fourth phases of this process are conducted not only by the graduate admissions committee but by the full faculty of the Department. The full faculty therefore are intensively involved both in the selection process and the final admissions decisions.
The remainder of this section outlines the considerations that figure in narrowing down the applicant pooling each of these four phases of the review process.
In the first phase of the review process, the first cut is done by a team of about eight faculty members. All parts of the application are considered in this phase. Nominally, the four official credentialsgrades, scores, letters, and writing sampleare weighted about equally. But, in practice, there's a little more structure to it than that. For obvious reasons of efficiency, the grades and scores are looked at first; but the letters of recommendation in every folder are at least skimmed. That way, in case the grades and scores give a mixed or misleading picture, there's a chance for somebody who knows the situation personally to explain what's going on, and place it in an accurate perspective.
Letters of recommendation from faculty members who are not themselves professors of philosophy will in general not be of much assistance to us in our efforts to assess your credentials as a candidate for our PhD program. What we look for from the writers of your letters of recommendation is a candid evaluation of your philosophical abilities and accomplishments and an informed prognosis of your likelihood of succeeding in a top-notch Philosophy PhD program. Letters from non-philosophers are therefore seldom able to tell us what we want to hear and need to know about you, for they are not able to precisely estimate your chances of success in a program such as ours. Moreover, even if the person writing a letter on your behalf is a professional philosopher, it will not be of much help to us (and therefore to you), unless it is a detailed letter. We do not really care about how famous a philosopher the person writing a letter for you is. Far more important than the professional stature or the degree of philosophical fame of the author of the letter is the degree to which he or she knows you well and is therefore in a position to provide us with a vivid portrait of your philosophical personality and a detailed account of your philosophical work to date. Ideally, your application should contain at least three such letters from professional philosophers. Any further letters from other teachers of yours which you may wish to include in your application dossier should therefore always be included in addition to, not instead of, the presence of the minimum three letters of the aforementioned sort.
Over the years, we have found that undergraduate grades, especially those in philosophy courses, are a somewhat better indication of philosophical potential than GRE scores. It cannot be denied that grades from colleges and universities that are themselves more selective give more information than grades from institutions that are less so. But excellent marks are a very positive credential, no matter where one went to school. The GRE scores are relatively more important in cases where, for whatever reason, the grades are less informative or harder to interpret.
For what it's worth, the average grade average in philosophy for our recent admitted students has been about 3.9 (out of 4). The average verbal score on the GRE was around 710, the quantitative was 740 and the analytic writing was just under 5.5. The qualification "for what it's worth" is important: quite a few applicants who were not admitted had significantly better numbers than these (especially GREs). And, at the same time, since these are averages, roughly half of our admittees were at or below them. The reason, needless to say, is that other factorsespecially, the writing sampleare making a big difference.
In the first phase, every letter of recommendation is read carefully (and notes on the letter are taken); and all of the writing samples are perused at least quickly (again with notes taken). At the conclusion of the first phase, the admissions committee meets to discuss all of the results thus far, with the aim of selecting forty or so exceptionally promising candidates. These are subjected to more thorough evaluation in the second phase of the process. This phase is initiated by distributing the writing samples to various members of the faculty with expertise in the relevant areas, who then submit written reports on each one. Among those writing samples which do not fare well in the initial portion of the second phase, most are evaluated by two or perhaps three different faculty members prior to the application finally being eliminated from further consideration. Those writing samples that fare well with their initial two or three readers continue to circulate. Any writing sample in the dossier of an applicant that survives the entire course of the second phase of the review process will have received extremely thorough scrutiny by the end of that phase. It will have been read numerous times, with those that fare best having been read by as many as eight or nine different faculty members. If you are admitted to our department, then you will find that many of the faculty are extremely familiar with your writing sample!
At the end of the second phase, once all of those reports on the writing samples are in, the existing pool of evidence has been greatly augmented by the numerous faculty comments on the writing samples. The third phase of the review process commences with the admissions committee meeting again and compiling and reviewing all of the information available to it on each applicant. Though every credential is considered again at this third stage, the reports on the writing samples tend to loom somewhat larger. This is not simply because they are the main new information, but rather because, in the end, the ability to write a good philosophical essay is deemed by us to be the best single indicator of the potential to become a good philosopher. At the conclusion of this phase—which is typically intense and arduous—the committee produces a ranked list of the top twenty applicants for further consideration by the entire department in the final phase of the review process.
This list is arrived at by reconsidering the writing sample in the context of the overall application. The degree of educational opportunity that a student has had to produce a writing sample of that quality is taken into account at this point in the deliberation. This is because the Department's admissions decisions are based on the faculty's estimate of the degree of the philosophical potential the applicant possesses, not on her current degree of philosophical accomplishment. In the fourth and final phase of the process, the recommendations put forward by the admissions committee are then reviewed, debated, and ultimately transformed into a final admit-list through a process of deliberation that once again involves the participation of the entire faculty of the Department.
What this means in practice, in order for you to be admitted to our program, is that your writing sample must meet the following two conditions: (1) when viewed in the context of your application as a whole, it provides evidence to support the judgment that you have the potential to mature into an interesting philosopher, and (2) that this judgment is one that, upon careful consideration, turns out to be one that is shared by the majority of the current faculty in our department.
In addition, the other elements of your application must meet the following two further conditions: (1) they do not contain any worrisome warning signs, and (2) each of those elements, in the judgment of the majority of our faculty, is fully consistent with the primary evidence of philosophical potential afforded by your writing sample.
4. Advice Concerning the Writing Sample
Clearly, selection of a writing sample to submit with your application is an important decision. Most often, it's a term paper written for a philosophy course---one that reflects your interests, that you put a lot of work into, that you did well on, and, above all, that you're proud of. A paper of twenty pages or thereabouts is plenty; we're interested in quality, not quantity. An eight or ten page paper, on the other hand, is almost always too short to give much of an indication of how a person thinks.
It is important to select a writing sample that provides the best possible demonstration of your philosophical writing and reasoning abilities. All things being equal, however, it is also best to choose a writing sample that is devoted to a topic that is not overly esoteric. In order to be admitted to our program, your writing sample must be positively evaluated by a wide range of members of our faculty. Thus, all things being equal, it is inadvisable for your writing sample to be on a topic that is so esoteric that most of our faculty will not be in a good position to evaluate it.
Sometimes, students want to submit a senior thesis (or even a masters thesis) running fifty or, occasionally, hundreds of pages. And, if that's your best work, then, by all means, that is what you should send. But, in such a case, you should also give us some guidance as to what part or parts of it (totaling twenty or twenty-five pages, say) we should look at (or, at least, look at first). We'll all be doing a lot of reading at that time of year, and can't often afford to devote a disproportionate share of it to one application.
Alternatively, it may be that you have more than one major interest, and a piece of work that you're proud of reflecting each such interest. In that situation, it might be appropriate to submit two (or conceivably even three) writing samples. But here again, a cover note with some guidance to the reader(s) would be much appreciated. And, as before, bear in mind that it's quality, not quantity that makes the good impression.
In general, the more perspicuous the overall structure of your writing sample is -- the more clearly it displays how each of its parts contributes to the argument of the whole -- the better it will serve as a credential for admission to our graduate program. If you are transforming a term paper for a course into a writing sample, you may want to add some paragraphs at the beginning of the paper in which you provide an overview of what you aim to show in the paper, in what order, and why you take showing that to be of philosophical interest. You might also want to add some paragraphs to the end of paper in which you explain clearly what you take yourself to have accomplished in the foregoing pages and wherein you take its originality to lie.
5. Hearing Back from Us about Your Application
While curiosity is natural, as a general rule, please do not inquire about admissions decisions in February. It is not possible for us to contact all of our applicants prior to the second week of March. By that point in time, all applicants should have been informed about their admissions status by the Office of the Dean of Students. There are a number of reasons why we cannot let you know any faster, most of which are out of our control. Of course, if you think that some error has occurred or have some other special reason for concern about your application, please feel free to contact us. Otherwise, please be patient and wait to hear from us.
6. Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) Referrals
Some applicants whom we are not able to admit to our Ph. D. program are referred by us to the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (or MAPH for short), if they seem to us to be promising candidates for the Philosophy Track in the MAPH program. (For general information about MAPH, please click here.) So if you are not admitted to our Ph.D. program, do not be surprised if you are contacted by MAPH about your possible interest in enrolling in their Philosophy M. A. Track. (Note: if you already have an M.A. or a Ph.D. in Philosophy, then you are not eligible for this program.) The Philosophy M.A. Track in MAPH represents an excellent option for students who are not admitted to a philosophy graduate program in their first attempt to apply to graduate school. (For information specifically about the Philosophy M.A. Track in MAPH, please click here.) The task of identifying within our overall applicant pool those applicants who seem to be the most promising referral to the Philosophy M.A. Track in MAPH itself represents an important part of of the overall graduate evaluation and admissions process conducted each year by our department. With respect to this part of our process, we are seeking to identify a very particular set of candidates, namely, those who meet the following three conditions: (1) they appear to have genuine potential for success in graduate school, (2) their present applications are not sufficiently strong to allow them to gain admission to a top graduate program, and (3) the deficiency in their application is of a sort which can be remedied over the course of an intensive and rigorous one-year M. A. program designed to assist prospective graduate students in precisely their situation.
If you have been admitted to the MAPH program, we strongly urge you to visit our campus before deciding whether to accept or reject their offer of admission to you. During your visit campus visit, the MAPH program will arrange for you to meet the administrators of the program, the MAPH Philosophy preceptors, and selected faculty members from the Philosophy Department. The ideal time to visit is during the pre-arranged MAPH campus days in early April. MAPH campus days span a Monday and a Tuesday in early April, usually at the start of the second week in April. At noon on the Monday, we hold a lunch reception for prospective MAPH students who would like to be part of the Philosophy/MAPH track. If you are interested in being a part of that track, we strongly urge you to attend that reception. It will provide you an opportunity to meet many of our faculty and to learn more about the opportunities for students in the MAPH program who, upon completing the program, are interested in applying to PhD programs in Philosophy.
If you do decide to enroll in the Philosophy Track of the MAPH program, this will not at a future point in time confer any special advantage on you as an applicant to the Ph.D Program in Philosophy at the University of Chicago. It will also not confer any special disadvantage on you as an applicant to that program. At that point in time, your application will be considered like any other on its merits, with the primary weight being placed, as always, on the strength of the writing sample. As a matter of record, over the past several years, our department has admitted to our Ph.D program exactly one applicant from the MAPH program. Though what follows is speculation, since the result will depend on the relative strengths of our future applications: it seems to us not unlikely that this will continue to be our average in the coming years, with our admitting an applicant into our Ph.D program from the MAPH program roughly once every three or four years.
The proper time for a campus visit is after you have been admitted to the program. Prospective graduate students who are applying to the Ph.D. program in Philosophy are strongly discouraged from making a campus visit prior to their having been officially notified by us of an offer of admission to the program. We greatly appreciate your interest, but it is simply not feasible for us to meet personally with the many individuals who would like to learn more about our program. Moreover, a campus visit prior to our admissions process will have no influence on our admissions process. It is common for an applicant to assume the contrary -- for her to assume that if one or two of the faculty here has a chance to meet with her personally, and if they form a favorable impression of her, then that might have a marginal positive influence on her chances of being admitted to our program. It won't. The process is explicitly designed so that such fleeting personal impressions can have no weight. The process is based entirely on the required elements of your application, as described above; and the final decision depends solely on the judgment formed of those elements by a great many members of our faculty, once those materials are compared closely with those submitted by our other applicants.
If you wish to visit our campus prior to the admissions season, simply in order to form an impression of our department, then of course you are free to do so. We have done our best, however, to render such a preliminary visit superfluous by making this website as informative as possible, so as to provide interested applicants with as detailed a picture of our department as possible. If after exploring our website, you remain unsure as to how good a fit our department might be for someone with your particular philosophical interests, then we recommend that you go to the section of the website that lists our current graduate students (click here). Each graduate student there specifies their primary areas of philosophical interest. Pick out one or more graduate student(s) whose interests overlap to some degree with your own and contact them by email. They will be happy to answer your questions. The best way to find out about any graduate program is to talk with the graduate students in that program about how they feel about it. Our program is no exception to this rule.
Prospective graduate students who have been notified that they have been admitted to the program are strongly encouraged at that point to make a campus visit. We want all of the students whom we admit to visit our campus before they accept our offer of admission. If you are not married, then deciding where to go to graduate school for the next six or seven years is probably the biggest decision you will have made up until this point in your life: It is a decision that will shape many aspects of your life to come. We want you to make it carefully and deliberately and with as much information as possible about precisely what you will be getting into, if you decide to become a member of our philosophical community.
If you are admitted to the PhD program, then we will contact you, possibly as soon as early February, to inform you of our offer of admission to you. The ideal length of a campus visit is four or five days. These will be very busy days. We will schedule individual appointments for you with somewhere around ten members of our faculty. We will arrange a number of activities for you together with some of our current graduate students. Finally, we will encourage you to attend some seminars and workshops. We will pay for your transportation to Chicago, have you picked up and driven to the airport in Chicago,and arrange for you to stay with one of our graduate students. If you are coming from abroad, we will heavily subsidize the cost of your trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific flight, as long as you buy your ticket well in advance of the dates arranged for your campus visit, in order to keep the cost of your airfare within reason.
If you do have an official scheduled campus visit with us, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself as much as possible with some of the basic facts about life here in the Philosophy Department prior to your visit. This will enable you during your visit to focus immediately on those people and events in the Department, as well as those aspects of the PhD Program, most likely to prove of long-term interest to you, were you to decide to accept our offer of admission to you. The best way to familiarize yourself with such matters from a distance is to take advantage of the assorted windows onto life in the Department afforded by the various sections of this website. The best place to begin is to follow up on the links provided here.
The ideal time for a campus visit is during the five weekdays that comprise the first week of Spring Quarter. Ideally, we like to have our prospective graduate students all visit at the same time during this particular week of the academic year. If you can visit at this time, it has the additional advantage of providing you with an opportunity to meet your prospective classmates. In a given year, the Monday of this week tends to fall sometime during the last days of March, with the Friday falling somewhere during the first days of April. For precise information regarding when the first week of Spring Quarter falls during the year in which you are are applying to our program, please consult our academic calendar (click here). If you are both optimistically inclined and serious about becoming a graduate student in Philosophy at the University of Chicago, then you might want to plan in advance to keep that week free!
Among the prospective students whom we admit every year, there are generally a few who are also admitted by seven or eight other excellent graduate programs in Philosophy, sometimes even more. Prospective students in this position sometimes attempt, over the course of several rushed and busy weeks, to visit all of the top programs into which they have been admitted. Experience has shown that this is generally not a wise plan. It leads to brief visits, a great deal of exhaustion on the part of the visiting prospective student, and a very superficial impression of each department visited. We would rather have you forego visiting our department altogether than have your campus visit be so brief as to be pointless, and to serve merely as an overnight stop in a whirlwind tour of more than a half dozen departments. A campus visit serves its real purpose best if it allows you to learn things about the department you are visiting which you would otherwise be unable to learn reliably from others elsewhere merely through word of mouth or simply by perusing the departmental website -- things such as the real character of the intellectual atmosphere of the graduate program, the accessibility of the faculty, the nature and depth of philosophical discussion in seminars and workshops, the sort of quality and care which goes into dissertation supervision, and the extent to which graduate students in the program are or are not excited by the education which they are receiving. These are not things that are easily gleaned in a brief and superficial visit. It probably makes most sense to narrow your top choices among those programs into which you have been admitted down to three or four especially attractive departments -- perhaps five, if you can space out your visits sufficiently to give yourself some break between visits -- and to visit just those departments in which you are most interested.
8. Deciding to Accept or Decline Our Offer of Admission
If you have been admitted to our Ph.D. program (even if you think you are sure that you want to accept our offer), we strongly urge you to visit the Department before taking the step of officially accepting our offer of admission. We think it is important for a prospective graduate student to take a good look at a Ph.D. program in Philosophy before making the commitment to enroll in it. Alternatively, if you have no intention of visiting our department and are strongly leaning towards declining our offer of admission, then we urge you to inform us of your decision at the moment at which it becomes clear to you and not to drag out the process needlessly. Finally, please note the following: if you wish to accept our offer of admission, you must communicate your final decision to us by 5pm on April 15th in order to be able to secure your claim to the financial aid package that we have offered you. It suffices to communicate your decision to accept our offer of admission orally or by email by April 15 at 5:00 p.m. central time. Moreover, you are required to complete and send in the Admission Reply Form (which you received as part of your original admissions packet) to the Office of the Dean of Students immediately thereafter. This is how you secure your financial aid, so be sure to do this! If you have misplaced your Admission Reply Form or do not have a copy of it on you when need it, please let us know and we can send you another one by email or hand it to you in person during your campus visit.
It is not possible to defer our offer of admission to you. All our offers of financial aid are contingent upon the student matriculating in the coming academic year.
If you have any questions about the details of our offer of admission to you or about the conditions of its acceptance, please be in touch with our Director of Graduate Admissions, David Finkelstein.
General information about Graduate Studies at the University of Chicago