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Doctor of Philosophy


Program of Study

Start the PhD program with foundational coursework and then move into more advanced seminars, research, and directed readings in philosophy. Finally, you'll complete an original dissertation in close cooperation with your faculty advisors.


Core Philosophy Courses

One of the following courses related to ways of knowing:

  • Theory of Knowledge 
  • Philosophy of Science

One of the following courses in the philosophy of thought and meaning:

  • Metaphysics 
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Mind

One of the following courses in the philosophy of morality and values:

  • Ancient Ethical Theory
  • 17th-19th Century Ethical Theory
  • Contemporary Ethical Theory 
  • Fundamental Issues in Ethics

One of the following courses in the philosophy of law, rights, and justice:

  • History of Political Philosophy 
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy 
  • Fundamental Issues in Political Philosophy

Satisfy the logic requirement in one of two ways:

  • Take a graduate course in Completeness and Decidability
  • Pass the departmental exam in logic


Specialization Courses

Choose three or more courses in subjects related to your specialization of knowledge and representation or values and society (more information below).

History of Philosophy Courses

Choose three courses in ancient and modern philosophy as indicated below.

One or two of the following courses in ancient philosophy:

  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • Medieval Philosophy
  • Ancient Philosophy after Aristotle

One or two of the following courses in modern philosophy:

  • British Empiricism
  • The Continental Rationalists
  • Kant and Continental Idealism

If you take only one course in each area, choose a third from the following:

  • Ancient Ethical Theory
  • 17th-19th Century Ethical Theory
  • Phenomenology
  • 19th Century Continental Philosophy
  • Pragmatism
  • History of Political Philosophy
  • Topics in the History of Philosophy
  • History of Logic
  • Analytic Philosophy


Additional Requirements

To complete the PhD, you must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language or research tool, pass a comprehensive and topical exam, and write and orally defend a dissertation. 


More Information

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

Graduate Student Handbook

For more information, call 518-442-4250 or email [email protected].


Areas of Specialization
Knowledge and Representation

The knowledge and representation specialization focuses on historical and contemporary philosophical studies related to cognitive, linguistic, aesthetic, and cultural ways of knowing and symbolic systems.

Sample Courses

  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Analytic Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Theory of Knowledge
  • Logic and Philosophy
  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • Theory of Art
  • Topical courses in epistemology and philosophies of aesthetics, logic, psychology, and cognitive science.
Values and Society

The values and society specialization focuses on moral and political dilemmas that arise as social values are expressed.

Sample Courses

  • Ethics and Public Policy
  • Philosophical and Ethical Issues in Public Health
  • Bioethics
  • Ancient Ethical Theory
  • 17th-19th Century Ethical Theory
  • Contemporary Ethical Theory
  • Theory and Function of Religion
  • Philosophy and Public Affairs
  • Philosophy of Race
  • Philosophy and the Humanities
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • History of Political Philosophy
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • Meta-ethics
  • Topical courses in ethics and philosophies of religion, law, and politics.


Career Outcomes

Earning your doctorate will qualify you to teach philosophy and cognate subjects in community and junior colleges, private liberal arts colleges, four-year public schools, major universities, and private secondary academies.

Possessing a PhD will also enable you to pursue a variety of careers in government agencies, political think tanks, nonpartisan research firms, international nonprofits, social impact startups, and educational technology companies.

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"Specializing in ethics while earning my PhD in the philosophy department at UAlbany gave me a well-rounded perspective on topics in moral philosophy that continue to inform and influence the direction of my scholarship."

— Syd Johnson, '09

PhD Philosophy / MS Bioethics Dual Degree Program

Learn how to answer the philosophical and public policy questions raised by advances in biomedical sciences and medical technology through UAlbany’s doctoral in philosophy and master’s in bioethics dual degree program, in conjunction with Clarkson University Capital Region Campus.

You will receive training in both clinical ethics and public policy to prepare you for career opportunities in areas such as hospitals, medical schools and government agencies.

The dual degree program requires 82 credit hours instead of the typical 100 credits if you pursued the degrees individually.

You will need to apply and be admitted into each institution’s program separately. You will take philosophy courses at the University at Albany and bioethics courses either online or in person on the Clarkson University Capital Region Campus.

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

Admissions Requirements

Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: February 15
  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer: Not Available

 No Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: Rolling
  • Spring: Rolling
  • Summer: Not Available
Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official GRE Scores*
  • Statement of goals
  • Writing sample

The statement of goals is generally one to two pages discussing what you have to offer the program and what you wish to get out of the program.  It should include a brief description of the applicant's field of interest, related background, desired area of study and research emphasis or career goals. 

*The GRE will be waived as a requirement for admission through Fall 2024.

Special Notes

Please submit 2 to 3 letters of recommendation.

This program offers an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If applicants have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of the intended academic program.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.


The Ph.D. program in philosophy trains students to become professional philosophers, both as teachers and as researchers. Students acquire a strong background in the history of Western philosophy as well as in contemporary, issue-driven, topical philosophy.

Learning objectives:

  • Students acquire and demonstrate a strong background in the history of Western philosophy as well as in contemporary, issue-driven, topical philosophy and show they have developed the tools and capabilities to do research in their areas.
  • Students acquire and demonstrate the skill of engaging in specific investigation and research in philosophy.  They demonstrate knowledge of recent philosophical literature in their area, and expertise with the the tools and capabilities to do original research in their areas.
  • Students demonstrate professional-level skill in producing research by producing a substantial piece of original research (i.e., dissertation).