Graduate Admissions

The graduate programs of the Department of Philosophy at Boston University have long been renowned for providing graduate students with a firm foundation in the history of philosophy and in thematic studies of theoretical and practical philosophy – the sort of foundation necessary for its graduates to succeed as teachers and as contributors to contemporary philosophical investigations. Reflecting its history and present make-up, members of the department offer graduate courses, direct dissertations, and pursue independent research chiefly in six areas: analytic philosophy and logic, ethics and political philosophy, history of philosophy, phenomenology, philosophy of religion, and philosophy and history of science.

What We Offer

B.A./M.A. in Philosophy

At the beginning of their junior year, undergraduate students may be admitted to a program of study leading to the completion of the requirements for both the B.A. and an M.A. in Philosophy with an additional academic year following their senior year. Students must successfully complete the M.A. program within the first year after graduation with the B.A. degree.

J.D./M.A. Degree in Law & Philosophy

This program, offered jointly by the School of Law and the Philosophy Department, allows students to combine course work in law and philosophy. A number of law courses can apply to both the MA in Philosophy and the JD, which enables students to earn both degrees in the three years ordinarily required for law study, not the four years that would be required if the degrees were pursued separately.


The PhD program in the philosophy department is a rigorous 5-7 year academic journey which prepares students for a career as a professional philosopher. Full-time enrollment is strongly encouraged for the Ph.D. program. Applicants should have completed the equivalent of an undergraduate major in philosophy, typically with an average of B or higher. Students with minors in philosophy are also encouraged to apply.

Ph.D. in Philosophy/M.A. in Classical Studies Joint Degree

The dual-degree program is designed for those who wish to acquire a strong competency in ancient philosophy and to add a specialization in Classical Studies to a PhD in Philosophy. Both components of the program call for the fulfillment of the usual requirements of either degree but allow for special emphasis on ancient philosophy and the study of ancient Greek and/or Latin and knowledge of the history of Greek and/or Roman literature. For those who wish to concentrate almost entirely in Philosophy, please apply to the PhD program in Philosophy.

On fulfilling all degree requirements, the candidate will receive a regular PhD degree in Philosophy as well as a regular Masters in Classical Studies. The Philosophy component of the dual degree will equip the candidate with a special competence in ancient philosophy, while the training in Classical Studies will enhance the candidate’s understanding of ancient philosophical texts in a number of crucial ways, such as attention to genre and expressive values in literary style and to crucial poetical, oratorical, historical, religious, and scientific contexts.

What We’re Looking For

B.A./M.A. Dual Degree in Philosophy


  • a major in philosophy or joint philosophy at Boston University
  • requisite coursework
  • a master’s thesis with oral defense


Fall 2021 Admissions: April 20, 2021

Spring 2021 Admissions: November 30, 2020

Please defer to the College of Arts & Sciences’ Admissions page for requirements, updated deadlines, and more information for this program.


J.D./M.A. Degree in Law & Philosophy

Students must apply and be admitted separately to the School of Law and to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GRS).  For School of Law application procedures, please consult the School of Law web site. For the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, please consult the Department of Philosophy web site for information on applying to GRS.

Applicants should have a substantial background in philosophy–ordinarily the equivalent of an undergraduate major, and typically with an average of B or higher.

Students ordinarily apply to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences before or during the first year of law school, to begin the MA program in the second year of law school.


  • For the MA degree, students must earn at least 32 GRS (Graduate School) credits, including at least four graduate-level courses in the Philosophy Department and a jurisprudence or legal-theory course that is cross-listed between BU Law and the Philosophy Department
  • Through either examination or course work, students must demonstrate competence in logic
  • Students must satisfy the M.A. thesis requirement in one of the following two ways: A paper satisfying both the School of Law’s upper-class writing requirement and the MA thesis requirement or an independent MA thesis

Please defer to the School of Law’s page for requirements, updated deadlines, contacts, and more information for this program.


Ph.D. in Philosophy

All applicants should have completed the equivalent of an undergraduate major in philosophy with a strong grade point average. Students with minors in philosophy are also encouraged to apply.


  • A 10-20 page sample of scholarly written work
  • Personal statement/statement of purpose
  • Writing sample
  • Three academic letters of recommendation
  • Complete transcripts

The Department no longer requires or accepts GRE scores.


for May graduation: February 1
note: applicants are strongly encouraged to submit complete applications by January 15th.

Please defer to the College of Arts & Sciences’ Graduate Admissions page for updated information and general requirements for acceptance to this program.


Ph.D. in Philosophy/M.A. in Classical Studies Joint Degree


Dual-Degree applicants for the PhD in Philosophy and the MA in Classical Studies will submit one application to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. However, this application will be reviewed by both departments independently of one another. Applicants must be accepted into both programs in order to be recommended for admission to the Dual-Degree program.

Prospective students interested in this dual-degree program should select the following choices from the online application:

  1. choose the MA/PhD program
  2. choose the MA/PhD in Classical Studies
  3. choose the semester
  4. choose the PhD in Philosophy

The choices must be made in this order because as each choice is selected, the next drop-down menu appears for the next choice – they do not all appear in one screen simultaneously.

Please pay close attention to the deadlines posted on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions page. Students applying to the program need to satisfy general eligibility requirements for study at the graduate level. To find out more about the policies and procedures of the Graduate School, go to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences site.


Fall Semester: January 15


More Information

As of Spring 2021, the Department is no longer accepting enrollment to its terminal, stand-alone M.A. of Philosophy program. If you are a prospective student interested in our graduate programs, please consider the Ph.D. program, which includes automatic enrollment in the M.A. of Philosophy.

The institution’s ETS Code is 3087
Minimum TOEFL Scores: Paper-based Test 550

For further guidelines and information please visit the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences admissions page.