Philosophy - Social, Political, Ethical and Legal (PhD, MA)

Program Overview

The Department of Philosophy’s graduate program in social, political, ethical and legal philosophy (SPEL) offers students advanced coursework and individual research in classical, modern and contemporary social and political philosophy, as well as ethics and the philosophy of law. SPEL recognizes and respects both the Anglo-American (analytic) and Continental (European) traditions, as well as various non-Western traditions, feminist philosophy and critical race theory, and other emerging areas of philosophy. Students with a variety of philosophical interests are welcome to apply to the SPEL program.

Our program offers a terminal Master of Arts (MA) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) track, with specializations in social, political, ethical and/or legal philosophy. The MA is often pursued by students who are interested in postgraduate careers in law, business or public policy. The PhD prepares students for specializations in the most sought-after and fastest-growing areas in contemporary philosophy in colleges and universities. Our Department enjoys highly successful placement rates and aggressive professional development.

Recent doctoral graduate placements include: assistant professor at Southern Illinois University, assistant professor at Antioch College, assistant professor at Mardin Artuklu University in Turkey, assistant professor at Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano in Colombia and postdoctoral fellowship at Seton Hall University.

The Philosophy department is able to waive the application fee for a limited number of qualified PhD candidates. To be considered for the waiver, you should start your application. Once you upload all application documents, email Director of Graduate Studies Anja Karnein ( with information in support of your waiver request two weeks before the application deadline. Note: You should not submit your application package until the application fee is either paid or waived.

You can learn more about the program by contacting the director. Recent news and notices may be found at an off-site unofficial blog.

Degrees Offered

  • PhD in Philosophy
  • MA in Philosophy

Internships, Research Opportunities and More

Binghamton's graduate program in philosophy goes beyond the historical subjects from throughout the world. Members of our distinguished faculty impart a solid foundation in concepts, while also highlighting their links to current debates. We call our program SPEL, standing for Social, Political, Ethical and Legal Philosophy. Through a combination of workshops, lectures, conferences, and reading groups we try to help students to consider larger systems and their operational goals, and how problems within them can be resolved. Courses of study are highly individualized, and allow students to develop their interests with the guidance of a faculty advisor

The University's Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development is an additional resource for students. The Center provides many useful services that aid professional development, including mock interviews, résumé critique, and career workshops.

After You Graduate

Graduates of our MA program have had excellent placement rates in doctoral programs, while many PhD graduates have obtained positions at prestigious colleges and universities. Experience gained as teaching assistants and graduate assistants during their study can provide valuable training that educational institutions actively seek in candidates. Other alumni have continued their education in law school and found work as attorneys or legal associates. The rest have entered the private sector in business and management capacities.

Admission Requirements

Accelerated/4+1 Degrees

You may also be interested in our accelerated/4+1 degree programs which allow students to complete their bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in just 5 years!