Admission Information


The Department of Philosophy typically receives nearly 300 applications each year. We ordinarily expect an entering class of five to eight doctoral students. Although the number of qualified applicants exceeds the number of offers the department can make, we invite all who would like to study Philosophy at Harvard to apply.

Note regarding GRE scores:  No minimum score is required in order to be admitted. The GRE is one of many pieces of evidence that we take into account as we make our admissions decision for the Ph.D. program.

Note regarding JD/PhD program: Students seeking admission to the joint JD/PhD program must apply to and be separately admitted to both the Law School and the Department of Philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Student Qualifications

Background in Philosophy: The Department requires that applicants have obtained a solid undergraduate background in philosophy, indicating that the student has a good grounding in the history of philosophy, as well as familiarity with contemporary work in ethics, epistemology and metaphysics, and logic.

Scholarly Potential: The Admissions Committee looks for evidence of outstanding potential in the field of philosophy as shown in the applicant's academic record, letters of recommendation, and Statement of Purpose on the application form.

Questions? Please contact the Director of Graduate Admissions.

For more information on deadlines and application procedures, please click here:





Application Requirements

For more information on Applying, please visit the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences website or the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences online application.

Note: all applications for admission to the PhD in Philosophy are to be made directly to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and are to be submitted electronically.

Below is a list of the materials required for a complete application. Additional details about individual items follow. 

Completed Application

Your application is complete when the following materials are submitted:

  • On-line Application
  • Official ETS GRE General Test Score Report (see below)
  • Official Transcripts - scanned and uploaded to the online application system
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • Writing Sample (see below)
  • Scanned and uploaded CV (.pdf preferred)
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Application Fee
  • Official ETS TOEFL (if required) Test Score Report. (see below)


Applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE); students need take only the general section.

Writing Sample

Submission: Along with all other application materials, the writing sample is to be submitted electronically.

Scope: The sample must address a substantial philosophical problem, whether it is an evaluation or presentation of an argument, or a serious attempt to interpret a difficult text.

Length: In general, the writing sample should be at least 12-15 pages long, but no more than 40 pages; a rough maximum length would be about 25 pages. The Admissions Committee generally does not have time to read papers longer than this.

Format: The writing sample should be submitted in electronic format, formatted for 8.5-inch x 11-inch paper, 1-inch margins, with double-spaced text in a common 12 pt. font, such as Times New Roman.


Applicants whose native language is not English and whose undergraduate degree is not from an institution whose language of instruction is English must also take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Note: Completing a Master's Degree at an institution at which the language of instruction is English does *not* exempt students from the TOEFL requirement.

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