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General Questions About the Graduate Program

What are the special strengths of your department?

We are a large and pluralistic department with twenty-nine full-time faculty. We are particularly strong in applied ethics and ethical theory, but we cover every period in the history of philosophy, with a sizable contingent in post-Kantian European philosophy, and we have special strengths in the Catholic philosophical tradition. Our faculty members are active in all the core areas of contemporary analytic philosophy, including epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. In addition, a number of philosophers with positions in the McDonough School of Business and the Georgetown Law Center have associate positions in the Department. For a list of faculty specializations, please consult the Specializations page.

How long does it take to complete your program?

The doctoral program normally takes five or six years to complete. Students granted assistantships are guaranteed funding for five years, as long as they remain in good standing; funding may be renewed for a sixth year. No student should remain in the program for more than seven years.

Do you help us find jobs when we finish the program? How successful have you been?

Yes, we have an active placement program; you can find information about it here. Students are informed about the difficult job search process, beginning in their first weeks on campus, and they are helped all along the way. In recent years virtually all of those who were actively looking found positions.

Can I get credit for graduate courses already taken elsewhere?

Yes, once you are admitted, you can petition the Graduate Committee to have credits transferred. Up to twelve credits towards the PhD and up to six credits towards the MA (in dual programs) can be transferred. Of these, as many as nine for the PhD and three for the MA can be in fields other than Philosophy if you can demonstrate the relevance of the courses to your program. No petitions will be considered until after you have been admitted. In practice, students with previous graduate work often choose not to transfer the credits so that they can take more courses at Georgetown.

Can I enroll in your graduate program part-time while working elsewhere, or can I take Philosophy courses without being enrolled in your program?

PhD students must attend full time. Students who are not enrolled in our program can take our courses through the School of Continuing Education. For graduate courses (those numbered 500 and above) permission from the Department and the course instructor are also required.

Do you offer any special dual degree programs?

Yes. Information about the JD/MA and JD/PhD can be found here. Information about the MD/MA and the MD/PhD can be found here. Students enrolled in the Georgetown PhD program can apply for admission to a degree program leading to a Master’s of Public Health offered through a cooperative arrangement with the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. Information about the Johns Hopkins Master’s of Public Health program can be found here.

Questions Specifically About the Application Process

Where can I get additional information and application materials?

You can send a request online or call the Graduate School Admissions office at (202) 687-5568. Applications must be made online through the Graduate School Admissions office.

What is the timetable for applications and decisions?

Applications for the PhD program are due December 15th. It is probably a good idea to call the Graduate School at (202) 687-5568 to make certain that all the materials have arrived. There is no procedure to automatically notify candidates either when items are missing or when the file is complete. PhD applicants will be notified of decisions (admit with assistantship; admit; wait-list for assistantship; deny) by early March. Applicants admitted to the program will be invited to visit the campus in March or early April. All students must accept or decline their assistantships by April 15. Students on the wait list will be offered assistantships as they become available, but often will not get offers until or near April 15. MA applications for dual degree programs beginning in the fall must be submitted by January 1st, and applicants will be notified of decisions by mid-June. Applicants should direct questions about the status of their applications to the Graduate School.

What factors are used to decide who is admitted?

We look for evidence of philosophical ability, preparation and interest. We consider writing samples, grades (especially in Philosophy courses), letters of recommendation, courses taken, schools attended, and GRE Scores. Please note that other standardized tests (GMAT, LSAT, MCAT) may not be substituted for GRE scores. Non-native English speakers are required to take the TOEFL exam and to receive a score of at least 600 on the paper test or 100 on the internet-based test, unless they have received a bachelor’s or advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction. You may read more about the TOEFL here (new window).

What are my chances of getting an assistantship?

In recent years we have received over two hundred applications for five or six funded positions.

I am going to be in the area some time soon. May I arrange an interview with somebody on the Admissions Committee?

Since we do not have the resources to conduct formal interviews of all the applicants, our policy is to interview none of them. If you are in town, you are welcome to come to the Department and chat with students and faculty you happen to meet. You are also welcome to attend Department talks. If you have specific questions that cannot be answered by calling the Graduate School or by searching our web site, you should email the Director of Graduate Admissions.

Are foreign students eligible for assistantships?

Yes. No special preference for either admission or assistantships is given to applicants from the United States.

How large are your assistantships?

The exact value of the assistantships is not set until March or April for the following academic year. For the academic year 2013-2014, Department assistantships included full tuition remission, $24,000 as a living stipend, and health insurance benefits. Assistantships are awarded initially for a period of five years, assuming satisfactory progress towards the degree. Students needing more time to finish are generally offered assistantships beyond that period if needed.

What duties are required of assistantship holders?

In their first three years, assistantship holders act as teaching assistants for faculty members. Duties are negotiated on a case by case basis, depending partly on the experience of the assistant. They may include grading papers, meeting individually with students, leading discussion sections, conducting review sessions, or giving lectures. All together they should require no more than fifteen hours a week. In the later years students are given the opportunity to design and teach their own courses under the supervision of a teaching mentor in the Department.

I don’t do well on standardized tests. Can the GRE requirement be waived for me?

No. We require that you take the GRE. But you may include a statement with your application explaining why you think the GRE is not a good indicator of your philosophical abilities. This statement will be considered by the Admissions Committee along with your other credentials.

Do you have any tips on how to improve my application?

We do not comment on particular applications, but we do have some general words of advice. Remember that you are applying to a Philosophy Department. Your writing sample should be in Philosophy and most of your letters of recommendation should be from philosophers. Writing samples should be no longer than about 6,000 words. Work experiences, extra-curricular activities, and general character references carry much less weight in graduate school applications than they do in applications to college. If your major is in a field other than Philosophy, make sure you demonstrate your ability, knowledge, and interest in Philosophy.

May I submit a fourth or fifth letter of recommendation?

Yes, you may. Currently, the ApplyYourself console only accepts three letters of recommendation that are solicited via ApplyYourself. For a fourth or fifth – but if you’re tempted by a sixth, restrain yourself! – you may have a recommender send a hard copy through the US Mail (directly from the recommender, not through you) to the following address:

Georgetown University
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Graduate Admissions, Box 571004
3520 Prospect Street, NW, Room CB-207
Washington, DC  20057-1004

What should I do if a transcript or letter of recommendation is not going to arrive by the Dec. 15th deadline?

Have no fear! As long as all materials have arrived by mid- to late January, we can work with what we have. For transcripts that are or are likely to arrive late, it would be helpful for you to scan or print-to-PDF a copy of the unofficial transcript, then contact the Director of Graduate Admissions for more specific instructions. That way we can see the transcript and use the information. If you are accepted for the program, you will have to have submitted an official transcript in order for us to admit you and consider you for funding. So, in a case like this, do not delay requesting your prior academic institution(s) to send an official transcript to the Graduate School, at this address:

Georgetown University
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Graduate Admissions, Box 571004
3520 Prospect Street, NW, Room CB-207
Washington, DC  20057-1004