Philosophy Department Graduate Admissions

Graduate Admissions

Applications to the SPEL Program are due on February 1st for students who are seeking fall admission and who wish to be considered for funding.

Students may apply for spring admission; however, no funding is available for students who begin the program in the spring. The application deadline for spring admission is October 15th.

Required Application Materials for the SPEL Program:

  • Application fee and completed application form (online or paper)
  • GRE scores
  • TOEFL scores (not required if you have received a degree from a U.S. institution or if you have received a degree from an institution in a country whose native language is English)
  • Transcripts from all previous institutions
  • Two or three letters of recommendation (three for Ph.D. applicants)
  • Personal statement
  • Writing sample (20 pages or less)

To apply online to the SPEL program visit the Binghamton University Graduate School.  But please feel free to contact us (email: Anja Karnein) if you are have any difficulties with or questions about the application process.

FAQ's about admission are below.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a B.A.  Should I apply to the M.A. program?

That depends.  If you anticipate the M.A. being your terminal degree, then you should apply to the M.A. program.  If you presently intend to go on to the Ph.D. with us in Binghamton, then you may apply now to the Ph.D. program.  In any case, you do not need to already have an M.A. to apply to the Ph.D. program.  Please note that we cannot offer funding to terminal M.A. students.

Which program should I apply to?

If you are reading this page, then you should apply to PHILOSOPHY SPEL.

Do I need to submit a resumé with my application?


I did poorly in formal logic when I was an undergraduate.  Will that be a problem in applying?

It's not a problem in applying, but, if you are admitted and enroll, you will have to complete a Logic Proficiency before you can receive a SPEL degree.

I did not major in philosophy as an undergraduate.  Can I still apply?

Yes.  Several of our current students were not philosophy majors as undergraduates.  You should, however, be able to offer some evidence that you are capable of doing graduate-level coursework in philosophy.  Previous coursework, letters of recommendation, and your writing sample are all ways to do this.

Do you fund international students?

Yes, international students are eligible for teaching assistantships if they meet the Graduate School's TOEFL requirements.  Please see "Financial Support" in the menu to the left.

Will you support my application?

In general we are grateful for our applicants' interest and try to offer support, but individual faculty members have only a limited ability to support particular applicants.  The faculty as a whole reviews the complete dossiers of the applicant pool and makes its decision jointly.

What should go in my statement of purpose?

As with a typical academic statement of purpose, you should explain your understanding of the discipline -- in this case, philosophy -- where you see yourself fitting into the discipline, and how this program in particular would be suitable for you.  In other words, we are primarily interested in what course(s) of research you are inclined to pursue, what preparations you have made to do this, and how you see SPEL faculty supporting you in this work.  We are less interested -- at least for the purpose of admissions -- in the personal reasons that led you to choose philosophy.

Do you support dissertations about .... ?

It is perhaps best to address such questions to individual faculty members.  If you prefer to contact the Graduate Director, she can tell you whom to ask or explain what dissertations have been supported in the past.

Am I eligible for a Clark Diversity Fellowship?

Contact the Graduate Director. Read More

Is it hard to get off the wait list?

It varies tremendously from year to year.

What GRE scores/ GPA do I need to get admitted?

It's really impossible to say.  GPA and, to a lesser extent, GRE scores are important factors in our admissions decisions. But there are no scores that will either guarantee you admission, or automatically disqualify you.  Our students tend to have had high grades and test results, but exceptions are always possible.  A strong writing sample and letters of recommendation can outweigh other factors.

So, what are the minimum TOEFL scores?

This is from the Graduate School: "Normally for the TOEFL, a minimum overall score of 550 (paper-based), or 213 (computer-based) or 80 (internet-based) is required for admission. For the IELTS, a minimum overall score of 6.5, with no band below 5, is required for admission. Instruction in English as a second language may be required as a condition of admission; students are expected to complete such instruction satisfactorily within two semesters. All incoming international students with TOEFL scores lower than 600 or IELTS scores lower than 7 are required to take an ESL placement test at the beginning of their first semester. Normally TAs should have a TOEFL score of 600 or more, or an IELTS score of 7 or more."  Note that a TOEFL paper 600 is equivalent to a 100 on the internet-based version.

-- further questions will be added as they are asked frequently.  Feel free to contact the Anja Karnein, Graduate Director.

Last Updated: 8/30/16