Admissions and Financial Support

Admission to the doctoral program is very selective. Recent applicant pools have averaged about 250 per year, with about 1 in 25 applicants being accepted for the program.

The main criteria for admission are:

  • Quality of a philosophical paper submitted to the department.
  • Previous academic background and record
  • Letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores (There is no automatic cut-off based on GRE scores, but average scores for students admitted recently are: 93rd percentile in verbal; 84th percentile in quantitative; and 87th percentile in analytic.) GRE scores are optional for applying. 
  • Curriculum Vitae

How to Apply

Complete an online application. Learn more by reading frequently asked questions about graduate program applications. 

A complete application requires:

  • Optional: Arrange for the submission of official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores. The scores reported must result from a test taken within the last five years. To expedite the review process, you may also upload preliminary (unofficial) scores, if available. (GRE and TOEFL school code: 1841, GRE department code: 2801, TOEFL dept. code: 20)
  • Submit unofficial transcripts from each post-secondary institution (upload through the online application).
  • Submit a Curriculum Vita or resume through the online application system .
  • Arrange for three letters of recommendation from persons able to evaluate the applicants philosophical ability and potential, to be submitted through the online recommendation system associated with the online application.
  • Submit a sample (typically 10 - 15 typed pages in length) of the applicant's philosophical writing and attach it electronically to the online application through the Uploads section.
  • Submit a statement of intent through the online application system (a brief, no more than two to three typed pages, statement of the applicant's motivations and goals in undertaking graduate study of philosophy).
  • Submit the application fee by credit card, check, or money order using the payment system associated with the online application.


The deadline for admission is January 15 of the year for which admission is sought. All application materials must be submitted by this deadline.

Typically, only students planning to begin graduate work in the fall semester are considered for admission. In special circumstances, applications to begin work in the spring semester will be considered; but these must meet the same January 15th deadline as ordinary applications.

Applicants will be informed of the Department's decision on their applications by April 15.

Financial Support

All regular full-time students in good academic standing and in residence receive full tuition scholarships. In addition, students receive a stipend from the College of Arts and Letters for five years of graduate work.

During the term of the five-year stipend, students are expected to serve the Department as teaching assistants (TAs) in their third, fourth, and either fifth or sixth semesters. Students are expected to teach their own class once, typically in Spring of their fourth year. The remaining six semesters are designated for undistracted coursework, research and writing. In exceptional cases, a student may elect to teach a second class in his or her fifth year.

Students who complete their PhD by the end of their fifth year are automatically awarded a one year postdoctoral fellowship from the University, which comes with a stipend, minimal teaching, and a research budget. Learn more about the 5 Plus 1 Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at Notre Dame.

Fifth-year students making timely progress who are not scheduled to finish their dissertations but expect to do so by the end of their sixth year may apply to the College for a sixth year of stipend support. If a sixth year stipend is awarded, students are expected to serve as TAs both semesters.

Students in good standing beyond the fifth year and not supported by stipends are typically hired by the Department to teach courses each semester. At current adjunct rates, a reasonable income can be made by teaching 5 courses in an academic year.

Our students, with departmental support and outside funding, regularly visit distinguished philosophy departments both in the U.S. and abroad to undertake further study. Notre Dame graduate students have recently visited at Arizona, Brown, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, Rutgers, Cambridge, Oxford, Louvain, Göttingen, Münster, Halle and the Free University.