The Graduate Program in Philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder is designed to provide students with a broad and intensive training in philosophy. It focuses on the careful philosophical development and professional preparation of its students. We have distinguished faculty in all the core areas of philosophy. The Department is also one of a few elite programs in the country that balance strength in contemporary philosophy with a serious interest in the history of philosophy, with faculty spanning the whole history of Western thought, from Plato and Aristotle, through the Middle Ages, to the early modern period. In the 2021-2022 Philosophical Gourmet Report, the Department was ranked #27 among Ph.D. programs in the United States, 36th worldwide, and 13th for U.S. public universities.  In the specialty rankings, which cover the entire English-speaking world, not just the U.S., the Department placed in nine areas:

  • Medieval Philosophy: ranked 1st in the English-speaking world (tied with two other departments)
  • Applied Ethics: ranked 4th in the English-speaking world (tied with eight other departments)
  • Epistemology: ranked 9th in the English-speaking world (tied with twenty other departments)
  • Normative Ethics: ranked 11th in the English-speaking world (tied with twelve other departments)
  • Metaethics & Moral Psychology: ranked 12th in the English-speaking world (tied with twelve other departments)
  • Ancient Philosophy: ranked 15th in the English-speaking world (tied with six other departments)
  • Early Modern: 17th Century: ranked 19th in the English-speaking world (tied with fifteen other departments)
  • Political Philosophy: ranked 24th in the English-speaking world (tied with twenty-two other departments)
  • Metaphysics: ranked 25th in the English-speaking world (tied with seventeen other departments)

We offer a Ph.D. program, a distinct M.A. program, and, most recently added, a Bachelor's–Accelerated Master's program for our undergraduate philosophy majors. The M.A. program is intended for students who wish to explore advanced study in philosophy in a two-year graduate program that will prepare them for further study at the doctoral level. The Ph.D. program is intended for those who aspire to a career of teaching and research at the college or university level. Around five to six new Ph.D. students and four to eight new M.A. students enter our programs each fall.

Our faculty is known for having some of the best teachers on campus – as is evidenced by the fact that we have a very large and active group of undergraduate majors, over 200 at any given time, making it one of the largest philosophy majors in the country. Philosophy classes are in high demand among the undergraduates; this in turn makes it possible for us to offer plenty of classes in a wide range of subjects for both undergraduate and graduate students. At the graduate level, there are groups of students studying with a wide range of faculty members. To get an idea of the range of interests of the current group of M.A. and Ph.D. students, visit the Graduate Students page. Faculty and graduate students alike benefit from the highly collegial philosophical community at CU.

Studying philosophy in Boulder has the additional advantage of location. Situated at the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, 25 miles northwest of Denver, Boulder has an ideal geographical setting, surrounded as it is by the natural beauty of the Foothills and the nearby Rockies and Indian Peaks, with many recreational opportunities such as hiking, skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, and kayaking. Boulder is a mid-size college town with many diverse cultural offerings, and is often found on lists of the best places to live and study in the US.

The Philosophy faculty is large (20 tenured and tenure-track professors) and active both in teaching and research. The research interests of the faculty span the major areas of philosophy, and there are many areas of common interest and overlap among them:

  • History of Philosophy: ancient Greek philosophy  (Dominic Bailey, Mitzi Lee, Robert Pasnau), medieval philosophy (Robert Pasnau), early modern philosophy (Dan Kaufman, Robert Pasnau), and the history of ethics and political philosophy (David Boonin, Chris Heathwood, Dan Jacobson, and Mitzi Lee). The Department has strong affiliations with the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Classics Department, the Center for the Study of Origins, and the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization.
  • Ethics (David Boonin, Iskra Fileva, Ben Hale (Environmental Studies Program (ENVS)), Chris Heathwood, Michael Huemer, Dan Jacobson, Alastair Norcross, Graham Oddie, Ajume Wingo). The Department hosts the Center for Values and Social Policy, which sponsors a series of Friday lunchtime talks, a lecture series aimed at the general public, and the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress.
  • Applied Ethics (David Boonin, Michael Huemer, Alastair Norcross).
  • Metaethics (Chris Heathwood, Michael Huemer, Alastair Norcross, Graham Oddie, Julia Staffel, Brian Talbot).
  • Epistemology (Michael Huemer, Graham Oddie, Robert Pasnau, Julia Staffel, Matthias Steup, Brian Talbot).
  • Philosophy of Language (Graeme Forbes, Graham Oddie, Rob Rupert).
  • Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy (Ben Hale (ENVS), Michael Huemer, Dan Jacobson, Alastair Norcross, Brian Talbot, Ajume Wingo).
  • Logic, Philosophical Logic, and Philosophy of Logic (Carol Cleland, Graham Oddie, Raul Saucedo, Julia Staffel).
  • Metaphysics (Carol Cleland, Heather Demarest, Chris Heathwood, Graham Oddie, Rob Rupert, Raul Saucedo).
  • Philosophy of Science (Carol Cleland, Heather Demarest, Graham Oddie, Rob Rupert, Raul Saucedo). The Department hosts the Committee on the History and Philosophy of Science, which sponsors frequent interdisciplinary talks and conferences. Carol Cleland directs the Center for the Study of Origins.
  • Philosophy of Cognitive Science (Rob Rupert). The Department has strong affiliations with the Institute for Cognitive Science.
  • Bioethics (David Boonin, Ben Hale (ENVS), Alastair Norcross).
  • Aesthetics (Iskra Fileva, Dan Jacobson, Graham Oddie, Ajume Wingo).
  • Philosophy of Mind (Robert Pasnau, Rob Rupert).
  • Philosophy of Religion (Chris Heathwood, Robert Pasnau).
  • Environmental Ethics and Philosophy (Ben Hale (ENVS), Alastair Norcross).
  • Comparative Political Philosophy (Ajume Wingo).
  • Moral Psychology (Iskra Fileva, Dan Jacobson).
  • African Philosophy (Ajume Wingo).
  • Buddhism (Raul Saucedo). 
  • Public Policy and Philosophy (Ben Hale (ENVS)).

Students in our M.A. and Ph.D. programs can earn interdisciplinary graduate certificates in related fields. The University Catalog contains a list of Graduate Certificates.

Of special interest to graduate students in philosophy are the following certificates:

The Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies

The Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies provides an opportunity for graduate students in Philosophy and other disciplines to learn how to use gender as a category of analysis and to expand their knowledge of gender scholarship in fields outside philosophy. These skills and information are not only interesting in their own right but can also broaden and deepen one's philosophical work. In addition, the WGST Certificate provides a useful credential on the academic job market. The Certificate consists of four graduate courses, whose details are listed on the WGST website. It is easy to combine these courses with either an M.A. or a Ph.D. program, since Philosophy graduate credit can be earned for several elective courses taken outside our Department. Many of our most successful Philosophy graduate students, male and female, have been awarded the Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies.

The Graduate Certificate in Cognitive Science

The Department of Philosophy is a participating academic unit in CU Boulder’s Institute of Cognitive Science (ICS). Numerous opportunities – from weekly lectures to participation in research projects – are available to our graduate students in connection with the Institute. Philosophy students can earn a Graduate Certificate in Cognitive Science as a supplement to the M.A. or Ph.D. This is a flexible program based entirely on coursework and can include classes in psychology, linguistics, computer science, education, and speech, learning, and hearing sciences. Our students can also earn a Philosophy and Cognitive Science joint Ph.D. To do so, students must write on an interdisciplinary topic, complete related coursework, and have two thesis committee members who are ICS fellows based in departments other than Philosophy. Students who would like to earn the Certificate or the Joint Ph.D. must have an ICS faculty sponsor in Philosophy and have their application approved by the ICS Curriculum Committee.

For further information, please contact Professor Rob Rupert.

The Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice

The Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice seeks to address questions regarding the conditions of or rights to a safe and healthy environment for everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, and/or ability. The certificate is designed to expand the research portfolio of philosophy graduate students by engaging not only the theoretical underpinnings of environmental justice and social change, but also by exploring real-world justice implications of issues such as climate change, land use, waste, transportation, energy, and food systems. In this way, the certificate creates conduits for graduate students to interact with faculty from across the University, in units such as Environmental Studies, Sociology, Political Science, Philosophy, Communication, and Geography. The certificate can be particularly beneficial for students hoping to develop research projects in the areas of environmental ethics or justice, or for those who hope to enter the job market with credentials to teach these courses. To complete the graduate concentration in Environmental Justice, students are required to complete a pillar course for the certificate, along with three approved elective courses, for a total of 12 credit hours.
For further information, please contact Professor Benjamin Hale.

The Graduate Certificate in Development Studies

The department of Geography offers an interdisciplinary graduate certificate in development studies.  Development Studies is a well-established, interdisciplinary field of research with institutional centers at a number of major universities and several scholarly journals dedicated to its study.  The certificate provides interdisciplinary training in development studies to graduate students through a structured yet flexible program built around courses taught by CU faculty in a number of social science departments.  Because development issues such as agrarian change, labor migration, new social movements, industrial growth, urban planning, and natural resource use cut across disciplinary divides, the study of development demands interdisciplinary approaches.

The Center for Teaching & Learning at the University of Colorado runs programs to help prepare graduate students for a career in teaching. They offer two teaching certificates for graduate students:

  1. Certificate in College Teaching
    The University of Colorado Boulder considers the employment and training of graduate teachers to be a professional apprenticeship that shapes the professoriate of the future. To recognize graduate teachers who devote time to improve their teaching, the Center for Teaching & Learning, in collaboration with the Graduate School, offers the Certificate in College Teaching (CCT). This certificate requires no coursework, and is free to obtain.

  2. The Future Faculty Development Certificate
    The Future Faculty Development Certificate (FFD) is designed to target the needs of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who wish to pursue careers in academia. This certificate provides them with the opportunity to expand their understanding and appreciation for faculty careers in postsecondary institutions. This certificate requires no coursework, and is free to obtain.

Every week, there are numerous events sponsored by the department, including talks in the department colloquium series, lunchtime talks hosted by the Center for Values and Social Policy, talks hosted by the Center for History and Philosophy of Science, as well as talks in the Works-in-Progress series. In addition, there are numerous reading groups organized informally by faculty and graduate students on topics of common interest, ranging from Kierkegaard, non-conceptual content, to philosophical works in Latin and Greek. Check out our Events page for a full list of activites!

Click here to request more information about the program