As a PhD student in the Harvard philosophy program, you’ll have the opportunity to develop your ideas, knowledge, and abilities. You'll work with other doctoral students, our faculty, and visiting scholars, all in a stimulating and supportive environment. The program has strengths across a broad range of topics and areas, so you'll be able to pursue your interests wherever they may lead, especially in moral and political philosophy, aesthetics, epistemology, philosophy of logic, philosophy of language, the history of analytic philosophy, ancient philosophy, Immanuel Kant, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. In addition, students can pursue joint degrees with classics, Harvard Law School, and in Indian philosophy.
Incoming cohorts consist of five to eight students per year. You will have substantial access to our renowned faculty and all the resources that Harvard makes available. This relatively small size also gives students a sense of intellectual community.
The curriculum is structured to help you make your way towards a dissertation: graduate-level coursework, a second-year research paper, a prospectus to help you identify a dissertation topic, and then the dissertation itself. Past dissertations in the department have addressed a broad range of topics: Aristotle, Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau; contemporary moral and political philosophy; metaphysics; epistemology; and logic.
In addition to your research, you will also have the opportunity to develop your teaching skills in many different settings across the University.
You can find graduates of the PhD program in many universities. Some of our students have gone on to faculty positions at Yale University, Princeton University, Brown University, and Stanford University. Other graduates have gone on to diverse careers in, among others, the arts, the law, secondary education, and technology.
In addition to the standard PhD in philosophy, the department offers a PhD in classical philosophy in collaboration with the Department of the Classics and a coordinated JD/PhD program in conjunction with Harvard Law School.
Please review GSAS admissions requirements and other information before applying. You can find degree program specific admissions requirements below and access additional guidance on applying from the Department of Philosophy.
Applicants to the program in Philosophy are required to have a solid undergraduate background in philosophy, indicating that they have a good grounding in the history of philosophy, as well as familiarity with contemporary work in ethics, epistemology and metaphysics, and logic.
A writing sample is required as part of the application and should be between 12 to 30 pages long. 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. The upload of the writing sample should be formatted for 8.5-inch x 11-inch paper, 1-inch margins, with double-spaced text in a common 12-point font, such as Times New Roman.
Applicants seeking admission to the coordinated JD/PhD program must apply to and be separately admitted to Harvard Law School and the Department of Philosophy.