Admissions & Dissertations

Graduate Admissions

Applications to the SPEL Program are due on January 15th 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
    • Application fee and completed application form (online or paper)
    • GRE scores are accepted, but not required
    • TOEFL scores: If you have received a college or university degree from an institution in the United States, United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or some Canadian provinces, you are not required to submit TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic scores. 
    • Transcripts from all previous institutions
    • Two or three letters of recommendation (three for Ph.D. applicants)
    • Personal statement
    • Writing sample (20 pages or less)
  • 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?
    No.

    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. More information is available on the Clark Diversity Fellowship website.

    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.

    What are the minimum TOEFL scores?
    This is from the Graduate School: The TOEFL, IELTS and PTE Academic scores help demonstrate your proficiency in English at the college level.

    • TOEFL: The Graduate School requires a minimum TOEFL score of 80 on the Internet-based test. Teaching assistants must score a minimum of 107.
      • Depending on your location, the TOEFL may be either Internet-based or paper-based.
      • To learn more or register for the test, visit the TOEFL website. To use submit a score report, use Binghamton University's code: 2535.
    • IELTS: The Graduate School requires a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, with no band below 5.0. Teaching assistants must score a minimum of 7.5.
      • To learn more or register for the test, visit the IELTS website. To submit a score report, provide the Test Report Form (TRF) number in the appropriate field on your online application.
    • PTE Academic: The Graduate School requires a minimum PTE Academic score of 53. Teaching assistants must score a minimum of 74.
      • To learn more or register for the test, visit the PTE Academic website. To submit a score report, select "Binghamton University - State University of New York" from the score delivery menu.

    Please note that it can take as long as 2 full weeks for the testing agency to process your order and deliver your scores to Binghamton University.

    If you have received a college or university degree from an institution in the United States, United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or some Canadian provinces, you are not required to submit TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic scores. If you are unsure whether or not your institution is exempt, please contact International Admissions and Recruitment Advisor Megan Begert.

  • Financial Assistance

    Several Graduate Teaching Assistantships -- typically five -- are available to qualified applicants each year. Students entering with a B.A. and intending to earn an M.A. and a Ph.D. in SPEL may be offered up to four years of funding in the form of a teaching assistantship, and students entering with an M.A. in Philosophy and intending to earn a Ph.D. in SPEL may be offered up to three years of funding in the form of a teaching assistantship. Teaching assistantships are offered for one year at a time and are renewed conditional upon the student's satisfactory progress towards the degree and satisfactory performance as a teaching assistant. A teaching assistantship provides a competitive stipend, and often, tuition scholarships and health benefits in exchange for 10 to 20 hours of work per week in the classroom or office. Additional funding may be available to teaching assistants in the form of Provost's Doctoral Summer Fellowship and (small) amounts of money to support conference travel. Students who are not initially offered funding but who enroll in the SPEL program may apply for funding in subsequent years.

    We cannot offer financial support to those entering our terminal M.A. program.

    There are other opportunities for funding in addition to teaching assistantships. Students who have already earned their M.A. (in SPEL or elsewhere) and who have already served as a teaching assistant (or taught elsewhere) may apply to teach their own courses during summer sessions or winter session. The philosophy department typically awards one Dissertation Assistantship each year to a fourth year ABD student for use the following year. The fellowship comes with a full tuition scholarship, benefits, and a stipend equal to the stipend paid to teaching assistants, but carries no teaching obligation. The department also assists students applying for external fellowships, and on average in the last few years, 1-2 students have had external fellowships each year.

    Applicants to the SPEL program who meet particular "diversity criteria" are encouraged to apply for a Clifford D. Clark Graduate Fellowship for Diversity. "Clark Fellows" are offered (conditional upon satisfactory progress towards the degree) funding for two years to earn a terminal M.A., for five years to earn an M.A. and a Ph.D., and for four years to earn a Ph.D. if entering with an M.A.; one additional year of funding is possible on a competitive basis. The fellowship includes a full tuition scholarship, a competitive stipend, health benefits, and other miscellaneous benefits. For the first year, Clark Fellows do not need to work as teaching assistants; in subsequent years Clark Fellows assist in or teach one course per year.

    Note that the cost of living in Binghamton is unusually low; we encourage you to compare Binghamton with other locations on a cost of living calculator.

    Visit the Graduate School website for information on loans and other ways to fund your graduate studies. Information on the costs of attending may also be found here. For tuition and fees, please check the Rates tables on the Student Accounts website. U.S. Citizens may also be eligible for student loans and campus employment. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for further information.

Dissertations & Placement

  • 2022

    Name: Seul-ki Kim
    Dissertation: "Nietzsche on Reason" (Guay)
    Placement: Lecturer, Sejong University in Seoul


    Name: Jessica Vargas Gonzalez
    Dissertation: "The Political and The Anti-Political: Thinking normatively about the role of emotions and imagination in politics" (Tessman)
    Placement: CONACYT Post-doctoral researcher at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico


    Name: Kefu Zhu
    Dissertation: "A Kant-Inspired Theory of Creativity" (Zinkin)
    Placement: Visiting Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh

  • 2021

    Name: Sean Bustard
    Dissertation: "A Physiology of Healthy Recognition: Improving Axel Honneth's Diagnostic Account of Social Pathology through the Application of a Medical Heuristic Analogy" (Guay)


    Name: Aaron Schultz
    Dissertation: "Compassion and Criminality: A Buddhist Theory of Punishment" (Goodman)
    Placement: Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

  • 2020

    Name: Jenn Dum
    Dissertation: "Dimensions of Educational Justice: Practices, Reciprocity, and Individual Development" (Guay) 
    Placement: Test Developer at the Law School Admissions Council


    Name: Huseyin Kuyumcuoglu
    Dissertation: "Sweatshops: A Normative Analysis" (Christopher Morgan-Knapp)
    Placement: Visiting Scholar, Kadir Has University


    Name: Sinan Oruc
    Dissertation: "The Grammar of Promising" (Christopher Morgan-Knapp)
    Placement:  Visiting Scholar, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


    Name: Richard Saucedo
    Dissertation: "On the Emptiness of Morality" (Goodman)
    Placement: Instructor, Lamar University

  • 2019
    Name: Laura Engel
    Dissertation: "Metaethical Constructivism and Adaptive Preferences" (Tessman)
    Placement: Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Duluth

    Name: Fernando Zapata
    Dissertation: "John Dewey's Historical Criticism of American Liberalism" (Friedman)
    Placement: Ted Delaney Postdoctoral Fellow, Washington and Lee University
  • 2017

    Name: Jake Bartholomew
    Dissertation: "How Nice Of You, Doctor: Adorno's Freudian Ethics" (Pensky)
    Placement: Instructor, Missouri State University


    Name: Aaron Bell
    Dissertation: "The World's Agony Raised to a Concept: Negative Dialectics and Animal Suffering" (Pensky)


    Name: Ann Johnson
    Dissertation: "Toward an Understanding of the Morality of Trauma: World Loss and the Issue of Freedom in Women's Experience of Violence" (Bar On)
    Placement: Adjunct Lecturer, Boise State University


    Name: Khagendra Prasai
    Dissertation: "Habermas and the Project of Emancipation: Communicative Action, Emancipated Society and the Self-Constitution of Emancipatory Agency" (Penksy)
    Placement: Associate Professor (TT), Nepal Open University 


    Name: Evan Sechrest
    Dissertation: "The Instrumental Nature of Democratic Authority" (Reeves)


    Name: M. Blake Wilson
    Dissertation: "What's So Private About Private Property" (Pensky)
    Placement: Associate Professor (TT) of Criminal Justice, California State University

  •  2016

    Name: Brandon Davis-Shannon
    Dissertation: "Lost Luck: Recovering the Concept of Moral Luck from the Problem of Moral Luck" (Tessman)
    Placement: Director of Distance Learning, Cayuga Community College


    Name: Rochelle Duford
    Dissertation: "Considering Global Government: Legitimacy, Human Rights, and Global Democracy" (Pensky)
    Placement: Assistant Professor (TT), University of North Carolina at Wilmington


    Name: Jack Marsh
    Dissertation: "Levinas, Chauvinism, Disinterest" (Friedman)


    Name: Regan Rule
    Dissertation: "O My Friend, There is No Friend: A Non-Ideal, Feminist Theory of Aristotelian Friendship and Eudaimonia" (Tessman)
    Placement: Manager of the Law Firm of Matthew P. Gomez and Adjunct Professor at Rogers State University


    Name: Gary Santillanes
    Dissertation: "Studies in Moral Relativism" (Tessman) 
    Placement: Instructor, Northland Pioneer College

For more informationnon dissertations and placements prior to 2016 please contact the department directly.