Graduate Admissions to the Department of Philosophy will open late summer for the academic year 2022-2023. Deadlines will be December 15, 2021, 10 PM Mountain Time for international applicants and January 3, 2022, 10 PM Mountain Time for domestic applicants. You may apply as instructed below.

We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive to all and that student experiences in the wake of this have not been equitable. In response to these events, we recognize that some applicants will have concerns about the impacts these events could have on admissions. The Philosophy Department at the University of Colorado Boulder is dedicated to recruiting and supporting diverse, talented students, employing holistic application review processes and supporting students when they arrive on campus.
We want to be clear that we understand:

  • students have been facing and will face unprecedented challenges during this time.
  • testing centers have suspended operations, or moved to remote testing.
  • many students and institutions have chosen to adopt the Pass/Fail (or Credit/No Credit) option due to these events.
  • due to this disruption students may not have performed to their usual abilities during times of remote study or challenging classroom adjustments.
  • some research projects will have been interrupted or will be incomplete as a result of university and facility closures.
  • many students will be unable to take on internships and summer research programs or other professional development initiatives.
  • there are myriad other challenging circumstances that have arisen in individuals’ experiences.

We will take this all into consideration as we review applications holistically, understanding that our goal continues to be a graduate student cohort of future leaders, full of diverse life experiences and perspectives that will add new dimensions to our existing graduate community.

The Philosophy Graduate Program will not require GREs this year. (We will revisit the question of whether to require them next year.)

We will be posting more specific guidance for the Fall 2022 admissions cycle later this fall. If you have any questions about your specific circumstances, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies

Advice on Applying to Graduate School

Here are a few thoughts and suggestions to help you with your application to graduate school. (Adapted from the Classics Department advice page.)

  • Eric Schwitzgebel has some good advice for applying to philosophy grad programs on his blog here.
  • There are a variety of rankings of philosophy grad programs – including the reputational-based survey Philosophical Gourmet and the Placement Data ranking – which can help you narrow down which programs would be a good fit for you.

Cover letter/personal statement

This is an opportunity for you to create a brief personal narrative that "joins the dots" of your academic self. It should not be more than three pages double-spaced. The main purpose of your personal statement is to create a sense among the members of the admissions committee that you are going to succeed in their program. In order to do this, you need to demonstrate that you are:

  • knowledgeable, with a good background in key areas
  • thoughtful and articulate
  • focused

Unlike the personal statement you wrote for college, this one does not need to give a sense of you as a well-rounded person. It needs to give a sense of you as a scholar. To this end, you may wish to talk about particular subjects, approaches, or areas you have found interesting, how your interests in them have developed, and how you wish to pursue them in graduate school. You may talk about particular changes in direction that you have experienced in your coursework and interests so far. You may talk about ways you perceive different courses or interests intersecting or augmenting each other. If you have several areas of interest, you might wish to identify a common thread among them that helps convey your sense of focus and direction.

If your GPA is lower than you would wish, you can address that in your personal statement.

Your personal statement should be geared to each specific program to which you are sending it. You want to talk about why the program will help you reach your goals. Focus on a program's strengths in key areas and especially on the way in which its faculty could help you pursue your research objectives.

You have to walk a fine line between modesty and self-confidence. Do not assume you will be accepted, or that you know everything about a subject. Convey instead a sense of someone who is fascinated by various aspects of the field, has thought about them seriously, and hopes to be able to take advantage of the possibilities offered by this particular program to continue learning about these things.

Writing Sample

Your writing sample should give a clear impression both of your research interests and of your abilities as a scholar and writer. Most applicants submit a substantive paper they have composed in the context of an earlier class. If you have written a senior paper, an Honors thesis, a graduate research paper or a Masters thesis of which you are proud, this (or a part of it) is ideal for submission. It is recommended that you rework the paper to take account of any comments you received on it from your instructors. It also helps to give the revised paper to one or more faculty members for further advice and comments.

The writing sample must be 5,000 words or less.  If you are drawing from a longer study, it is best to excerpt a chapter or section of 5,000 words. Remember that admissions committee members must work through many files and will not have time to read longer samples.

Your work does not have to be publishable. But it has to be good enough that it will make a favorable impression on someone with real expertise in the field.

If you can, polish up a paper that is at least somewhat related to the areas you claimed were of special interest to you in your personal statement. If a paper you wrote for a completely unrelated class is far and away your best effort, you may consider sending that in, but you may wish to explain why you chose this particular paper in your personal statement.

In your personal statement, mention something important or interesting to you as a scholar about your writing sample. Did it open your mind to something? Did it change your direction of interest? Does it exemplify an approach you want to continue pursuing?

Curriculum Vitae

This should look professional and should reflect your academic accomplishments first and foremost. It need be only one page long, but that page should be full. If you have teaching experience or have studied abroad, be sure to list this, likewise honors and awards, including Deans List vel sim. You can list languages that you read (such as Greek or Latin), and your level of proficiency. It can also convey other pursuits, interests and occupations that have been important in your life. These last are useful for giving the committee an impression of you as a whole person but should play a secondary role alongside your academic pursuits and accomplishments.

Letters of Recommendation

You should think of four people to write for you. Even though most places only require three letters, some require four. (We ask for three letters.) Those people should ideally be recognized scholars in the field who know you well. At least one of your letters should be from a faculty member with interests or areas of expertise related to what you claim are your own in your personal statement. All things considered it is better to ask for letters from philosophy professors, but if you were a double major or did significant work in another area, you can certainly ask for a supporting letter from a professor in a different department/discipline.

Ask for letters at least six weeks before they are due.

Provide your recommenders with samples of your personal statement and your transcript (unofficial printout is fine). This will help them write a letter tailored to your current needs. If you have it, provide them also with your c.v. Be sure to give them a list of due dates for each program to which you are applying. If you have taught and can provide them with FCQ results or with a teaching statement you have written, do that. If you have a copy of work you have submitted to them (exams, papers, etc.), include that too -- most faculty teach so many students that it is hard for them to remember specific details about your work.

Waive your right to read letters. If you do not, the readers will not take seriously the good things your recommenders say about you. It is not only okay but a good idea to ask people outright if they could write a good letter for you, or what kind of letter they could write for you.

Asking for Help

Do it. You can ask as many people as you like for help. Be aware that each faculty member will have a different opinion, but their collective advice should help you make an informed decision.

Philosophy Department Diversity Statement

The Philosophy Department supports the University’s commitment to encouraging diversity and equal educational and employment opportunities throughout the University community. These values are articulated in the University’s non-discrimination policy, by the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement.

Philosophy Department Diversity Statement

The Graduate Program at the CU Boulder Philosophy Department currently has approximately 31% women and approximately 11% members of underrepresented ethnic minorities in its program. We welcome applications from all students, but we also hope to continue to attract and retain members of these underrepresented groups in philosophy. To this end, we strongly encourage women and members of underrepresented groups to apply for our graduate MA and PhD programs.

We will offer a targeted Application Fee Waiver, with the following conditions: 

Application fee waiver requests are available for three groups of domestic applicants. If you believe you qualify for an application fee waiver, please send an email to the Graduate Program Assistant Karen Sites ( with the required documentation listed below. The department will review the fee waiver request. If your fee waiver request is approved, the Graduate School fee for applying will be paid by the philosophy department. If denied, you will be notified by email and the application will not be processed until the application fee is received. Fee waiver requests must be received before the deadline for any application to be considered. After you have submitted your fee waiver request, please allow several days for your request to be reviewed by the department. We will send additional information, including status updates, via email.

1. Participants in the McNair Scholars program: In order to qualify for this application fee waiver, applicants must upload a verification letter signed by the current campus McNair representative. McNair Scholars should email directly for instructions on how to proceed.

2. U.S. citizens who meet the following need-based eligibility:

  • are currently enrolled in a degree program with no breaks in enrollment from point of entry in a degree-seeking program. In order to qualify for this application fee waiver, applicants must be enrolled in a degree-seeking program in the semester immediately preceding the academic term for which they are applying
  • have continuously received need-based financial aid in each term of enrollment
  • have had no breaks in financial support since onset of support

Please provide a verification letter on letterhead signed by your current institution's financial aid office to be considered. If you are unable to obtain a letter from your current institution’s financial aid office, please upload official financial aid award statements from all academic years of enrollment.

3. Participants in the Gates Millennium Scholars program: In order to qualify for this application fee waiver, applicants must upload a verification letter signed by a Gates Millennium Scholars representative.

We will be happy to consider your waiver request if you can satisfy these criteria upon receipt of the required documentation. While participation in select scholarship programs or payment waivers granted by other sources do not automatically grant fee waiver eligibility at this campus, we welcome fee waiver requests from participants who meet the above need-based eligibility criteria.

For the need-based application fee waiver category, please present a copy of these instructions to the financial aid office at your current institution and request a letter on University letterhead with an original signature certifying the specific items listed above (including both your enrollment history and financial aid history from point of entry at the undergraduate or graduate level). Forward this letter to Karen Sites. After you submit your application with the required fee waiver request documentation, the Philosophy Department will review your materials and mark your application payment as "waived" or contact you for additional information/payment.

For applicants with an approved fee waiver, the fee for applying will be paid for by the Philosophy Department. This is not a fee payment reimbursement process. If you pay the application fee by check or credit card, a waiver or reimbursement by the Philosophy Department is no longer an option. The Department will consider fee waivers on a rolling basis until the designated funds have been exhausted.

CU has adopted an on-line admissions system. Check out the general instructions for applying and submitting materials.

As part of the application process you will be assigned a username. The username/number you are assigned when you apply becomes your permanent student identification number at CU. If you were ever a student at CU, or if you ever applied to CU in the past, you need to use that same username associated with your name and social security number. Be aware that the process of assigning a username and login credentials takes two to three business days and must be done before you can proceed; for this reason make sure you start your application well before the due date.

Until you have completed and submitted the on-line application, your recommenders will not be notified and you will not be able to check the status of your transcripts, test scores, etc. in the portal. For this reason, you should complete your on-line application as soon as possible.

Changes or updates to your already-submitted application should be sent directly to Admissions at

Please note that applications must be complete by the deadline, including recommendations, in order to be fully considered. You should plan ahead accordingly.

Also please note that the application system closes at 10 PM Mountain Time on the due date. Do not plan on submitting late in the day on the due date.

Once you have submitted your application, you will be able to check the status of your application and supplemental documents.


The department invites and encourages applications from minority and women candidates. The department offers fall admission only into the graduate program. The deadline for domestic applications is January 3rd.

Each application requires the following elements:

  1. online application form (filled out and submitted online)
  2. $60 application fee (paid online)
  3. a writing sample (a sample of your philosophical work) (submitted online); the writing sample should be no more than 5,000 words.
  4. 1-2 page statement of purpose (submitted online)
  5. three letters of reference (submitted online)
  6. scanned unofficial transcripts from each institution of higher learning that you have attended. Uploading Transcripts

All applicants should use the online application portal.

You will first need to register. If you have ever applied for a password-protected account at CU (e.g., you applied last year), you will need to use the same username and password associated with your social security number as before. Fill out the on-line application, and pay the $60 application fee on line. Have three (3) Letters of recommendation sent to us. There are two ways to have letters sent:

  1. Fill in the names of your recommenders; an email will be sent to them asking them to upload their letters of recommendation for you after you submit your application. For this reason, do not wait until the deadline to submit your application. It is HIGHLY recommended that letters be submitted online in this fashion in order to ensure proper processing.
  2. If recommenders wish to send their letters by email instead of by uploading their letters, please have them email them to

Transcripts should be scanned and uploaded or mailed as per above.

The department invites and encourages applications from minority and women candidates. The department only offers fall admission into the graduate program. The deadline for international applicants is December 15th. International applicants should check the requirements for international applicants.

Check here to see if you are required to supply TOEFL / IELTS scores. The Department will not be requiring GRE scores for applications for Fall 2022.

International applicants have an early deadline of December 15th. This deadline is to ensure that application materials have time to be processed for the department. All applicants should use the online application portal.

You will first need to register. Fill out the on-line application, and pay the $80 application fee for international students on line. Have ETS send your TOEFL (if needed) score to CU Boulder. Upload your writing sample and statement of purpose to the online application website. If for some reason you cannot upload these documents, you must send them to the Office of Admissions (address below). Have three (3) letters of recommendation sent to us. There are two ways to have letters sent:

  1. Fill in the names of your recommenders; an email will be sent to them asking them to upload their letters of recommendation for you after you submit your application. It is HIGHLY recommended that letters be submitted online in this fashion in order to ensure proper processing.
  2. If recommenders wish to send their letters by email instead of by uploading their letters, please have them email them to

Upload scans of unofficial transcripts or send your transcript(s) to the above address. The Office of Admissions will process the materials, and upload the documents for us to see online. If you send us any materials by mail, we will have to forward it to the Office of Admissions. To ensure that materials you send to the Office of Admissions are matched with your application file, print a copy of your application as a cover sheet for the items you mail to the Office of Admissions. Failure to do this can result in delays in processing. Allow sufficient time for mail to be delivered to the United States. Most items typically require 10 days to two weeks from within the United States and even more time when sent from other countries.

For further information or questions about the admissions process, contact:

Karen Sites
Graduate Program Coordinator
CU Boulder Philosophy
Hellems 169 UCB 232
Boulder, CO 80309-0232