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) supports inquiry into the broad array of value theory. Our faculty draw upon a variety of traditions and approaches to address historical, practical and abstract philosophical questions prompted by our evaluative lives. We regard this particular combination of focus and breadth as a considerable strength. On the one hand, there is a common orientation of interest that fosters intellectual community and exchange. On the other, our pluralism enables us to guide advanced work on the diversity of topics in value theory. Moreover, it discourages parochialism and facilitates an appreciation of the way in which apparently distinct issues intersect and address each other. We regard these as fruitful conditions for improving the state of philosophical understanding.

We encourage prospective students to look into our faculty’s research, but also to review the work and interests of current and former graduate students.

Degrees Offered

  • PhD in Philosophy
  • MA in Philosophy

Internships, Research Opportunities and More

The department is host to a vibrant community. The SPEL colloquium standardly meets four times per semester to engage a visiting speaker about their recent scholarship. The SPEL Graduate Student Organization organizes an annual graduate student philosophy conference . Other conferences or workshops are often on the calendar (we were the host to the Nietzsche in the Northeast conference.) SPEL also normally collaborates with the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Law when they bring scholars of interest to campus. This is all in addition to faculty/graduate student reading group meetings, weekend mock conference sessions, and other informal activities. And, of course, each student receives individualized attention from the faculty regarding their teaching and scholarship.

After You Graduate

In addition to supporting our students’ scholarly endeavors, SPEL takes active measures to prepare students for the profession. This includes regular professional and teaching workshops, support (in conjunction with the Binghamton University Graduate Student Organization) for appropriate conference travel, and opportunities to engage directly with guest speakers about the profession. Moreover, many of our graduates leave for the job market with a publication or more in hand. Our recent placements include tenured or tenure-track positions at Smith College, California State University at Stanislaus, Antioch College, Southern Illinois University, and Nepal Open University, and term positions at West Point, Michigan State and Penn State, among others.

Admission Requirements


There are many funding and scholarship opportunities at Binghamton. We encourage prospective students to review available program-specific scholarships and awards, and visit the program's website for additional information. PhD students who are registered and/or certified full-time will receive a scholarship that covers the cost of broad-based fees (this does not include international student fees). Note: Master's students are generally self-funded, although funding opportunities occasionally arise.

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!