Hellems Arts and Sciences building with Flatirons in background

The Graduate Program in Philosophy at the University of Colorado at 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 Kant and his successors. In the 2014-2015 Philosophical Gourmet Report, the Department was ranked #31 among Ph.D. programs in the United States (38th worldwide, 16th for US state universities). In the evaluation of specialty areas, the Department did well, placing in nine areas of the specialty rankings, as follows:

  • Applied Ethics: Group 3 (11-29)
  • Ethics: Group 3 (12-18)
  • Feminist Philosophy: Group 1
  • Medieval Philosophy: Group 3 (5-7)
  • Metaethics: Group 4 (11-26)
  • Metaphysics: Group 5 (15-37)
  • Philosophy of Cognitive Science: Group 4 (14-32)
  • Philosophy of Language: Group 4 (18-37)
  • Political Philosophy: Group 4 (23-36)

The graduate program contains separate tracks for M.A. and Ph.D. students. The M.A. program is intended for students who wish to explore advanced study in philosophy in a two-year graduate program, which will prepare students 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. The number of students entering the program each year averages around four to six new Ph.D. students and six to twelve new M.A. students.

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, averaging 300 at any given time. 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 faculty of the department is large (19 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, Mitzi Lee). The department has strong affiliations with the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Classics Department, and the Institute for Cognitive Science.
  • Metaphysics (Carol Cleland, Graeme Forbes, Graham Oddie, Rob Rupert, Raul Saucedo, Michael Tooley).
  • Philosophy of Language (Graeme Forbes, Graham Oddie, Rob Rupert).
  • Semantics (Graeme Forbes).
  • Philosophy of Mind (Robert Pasnau, Rob Rupert).
  • Philosophy of Cognitive Science (Rob Rupert).
  • Philosophy of Science (Carol Cleland, Graham Oddie, Rob Rupert, Raul Saucedo). The department hosts the Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, which sponsors frequent interdisciplinary talks and conferences.
  • Logic, Philosophical Logic, and Philosophy of Logic (Carol Cleland, Graeme Forbes, Graham Oddie, Raul Saucedo).
  • Epistemology (Mike Huemer, Graham Oddie, Robert Pasnau, Matthias Steup, Michael Tooley).
  • Ethics (David Boonin, Iskra Fileva, Ben Hale, Chris Heathwood, Adam Hosein, Mike Huemer, Alison Jaggar, Alastair Norcross, Graham Oddie, Michael Tooley, Ajume Wingo). The department hosts the Center for Values and Social Policy, which sponsors a weekly series of lunchtime talks, a series of lectures aimed at the general public, and an annual conference on a topic relating to social philosophy.
  • Metaethics (Chris Heathwood, Mike Huemer, Alastair Norcross, Graham Oddie).
  • Applied Ethics (David Boonin, Adam Hosein, Alison Jaggar, Alastair Norcross, Michael Tooley).
  • Moral Psychology (Iskra Fileva).
  • Social and Political Philosophy (Ben Hale, Adam Hosein, Michael Huemer, Alison Jaggar, Alastair Norcross, Ajume Wingo).
  • Comparative Political Philosophy (Ajume Wingo).
  • Feminist Philosophy (Adam Hosein, Alison Jaggar).
  • Environmental Ethics and Philosophy (Ben Hale, Alastair Norcross).
  • Bioethics (David Boonin, Ben Hale, Alastair Norcross).
  • Public Policy and Philosophy (Ben Hale).
  • Philosophy of Religion (Chris Heathwood, Robert Pasnau, Michael Tooley).
  • Aesthetics (Iskra Fileva, Graham Oddie, Ajume Wingo).
  • African Philosophy (Ajume Wingo).
  • Buddhism (Raul Saucedo). 

Students in our M.A. and Ph.D. programs can earn interdisciplinary graduate certificates in related fields. Here is a complete list of certificates which graduate students can earn at CU.

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.

For further information, please contact Professor Alison Jaggar.

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 Graduate Teacher Program at the University of Colorado helps to prepare graduate students for a career in teaching. They offer two teaching certificates which graduate students can earn to prepare themselves for a career in teaching.

  1. Certificate in College Teaching
    The Graduate School of the University of Colorado at Boulder considers the employment and training of graduate teachers to be a professional apprenticeship that shapes the professoriate of the future. To recognize and reward graduate teachers who devote time to improving their teaching, the Graduate School offers a Certificate in College Teaching through the Graduate Teacher Program.
  2. The Professional Development Certificate for Preparing Future Faculty
    This certificate is for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are interested in pursuing an academic career track. Teaching is not a requirement for the PDC; rather, participants complete a project under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

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!