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Prospective Ph.D. Students

This page gathers some information and advice about the application process that we hope will be useful to potential applicants.  If you have specific questions, please contact:

University of California, San Diego
Graduate Advisor; Philosophy, 0119
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla CA 92093-0119

Email:                              Application period for Fall 2024 admissions: October 18, 2023 - January 3, 2024

Please note the GRE is not required.   

Please submit all questions by email at this time.


Tuition and Fees

Financial Support

Almost all Philosophy graduate students are supported by some form of financial aid. Most work as Teaching Assistants at 50% time. Typically this involves running discussion sections and grading papers for lecture and introductory courses in philosophy, humanities, and writing programs. An assistantship is also regarded as a full credit course, so Teaching Assistants usually take two graduate classes each quarter.

In addition, some Regents' fellowships are available for first-year students, and the department usually awards one or more dissertation fellowships a year for its advanced graduate students. Various fee, tuition and tuition/fee scholarships are also available, as are San Diego fellowships.

Advanced graduate students who have just completed or nearly completed their dissertations are sometimes hired by the department as Teaching Associates or Lecturers. Under these titles, advanced graduate students autonomously plan and teach their own courses.

Acceptance Rates

Our department attracts very high quality applicants, and admission is very competitive, as expressed below.

Year Acceptance Rate Number of New Students
2005 13.7% 6
2006 12.4% 7
2007 12.7% 5
2008 15.7% 8
2009 20.0% 17
2010 10.0% 5
2011 18.9% 7
2012 16.9% 5
2013 18.2% 14
2014 7.9% 2
2015 13.7% 7
2016 11.2% 7
2017 10.0% 7
2018 12.4% 7
2019 11.25% 8
2020 12.81% 10
2021 6.45% 9

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q:  I understand you are no longer requiring GRE scores, but can I send them if I want to?

    A: Since we will not be using GREs at all during the Admissions review process, we ask that you not send any GRE scores.  

  2.  Q: What about undergraduate GPAs? I concede that I spent too much time playing pool and too little time studying in college, but now I really want to study philosophy (and I'm brilliant). Will my low GPA exclude me automatically?

    A: Again, your low GPA won't exclude you automatically or prevent the admissions committee from looking at the rest of your file. But, once again, this would probably raise a worry in the minds of most committee members, who would then take an extra hard look at the other materials for evidence of promise in graduate school.

  3. Q: My major is x, where x ≠ philosophy. Will you even consider admitting me?

    A: Absolutely we'd consider you; our program is interdisciplinary in lots of ways, and we find that applicants with diverse intellectual backgrounds often enrich what goes on once they get here. In fact, we have accepted many students in this situation, and almost all have gone on to do very well in our program and beyond. That said, part of what the admissions committee looks for is promise and talent in philosophy in particular, so if the undergraduate coursework in x (where x ≠ philosophy) doesn't demonstrate that, we need some other kind of evidence in the other materials (especially the writing sample) that does. Consequently, applicants in this situation really need to send a writing sample and other materials that show them at their philosophical best.

  4. Q: What part of the application dossier is most important?

    A: The unhelpful (but true!) answer is that they're all important. Unfortunately, it is a bit hard to generalize beyond that because different readers weight the different components of the dossier differently. Still, if I have to choose one, I would say the writing sample is most important because it represents the fullest opportunity for applicants to showcase their abilities to think and write clearly about philosophy.

  5. Q: Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

    A: Usually the best letters come from professors of philosophy who have taught you and know your work. Such writers know what admissions committees in philosophy departments are looking for (since often they serve on those committees themselves). Moreover, they know what doing philosophy requires and so are able to assess applicants' promise in philosophy in a way that others -- even professors in other fields -- cannot. On the other hand, if the choice is between a philosophy professor who doesn't know you and a professor in some other field who does, I'd choose the latter because the resulting letter will be more substantive and helpful to the admissions committee.

  6. Q:  Is it ok to go over the maximum 20 page limit for the Writing Sample?

    A:  The Writing Sample is intended as your very best research in philosophy. It’s usually a student’s best work from a seminar in philosophy, then revised and improved with faculty feedback.  Although writing samples exceeding the page limit will be accepted, we strongly recommend you try to keep it as close to the 20 page maximum as possible.