PhD in Philosophy
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.
SPEL graduate program
The graduate program in Social, Political, Ethical, and Legal Philosophy (SPEL) offers graduate students advanced coursework and individual research in classical, modern, and contemporary social and political philosophy, ethics, and the philosophy of law. SPEL recognizes and respects work in both the Anglo-American (analytic) and the Continental (European) traditions, as well as in various non-Western traditions, in feminist philosophy and critical race theory, and in other emerging areas of philosophy. Students with a variety of philosophical interests should feel welcome to apply to the SPEL program.
Ph.D. in SPEL
Requirements for the Ph.D. include the Master's requirements (or an M.A. from another institution), six additional seminars, language proficiencies, a qualifying exam, and a dissertation with an oral defense. There may be additional requirements for those entering with an M.A. who did not previously specialize in SPEL fields.
It is possible for students to write a dissertation on a topic in philosophy that is not in Social, Political, Ethical or Legal Philosophy. If you choose to work on such a topic and have the agreement of an advisor, you may substitute an exam in your area of research for one of the SPEL MA Comprehensive exams. You may also substitute one philosophy course for any required course, except for the first year SPEL seminars.
Currently, our average time-to-degree from bachelor to doctorate is 5.7 years, which is about three years less than the national norm. But our current expectation is that students finish in five years, and we work with students to help them achieve that.
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 active seek 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.
To be eligible for a graduate study, you must:
- Provide a complete set of your undergraduate (and, if applicable, graduate) transcripts showing one of the following:
- You have earned a bachelor's degree (or its equivalent) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
- You are within one academic year of earning a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
- You are eligible to apply as part of a memorandum of understanding between your current institution and Binghamton University
- Have earned, at a minimum, one of the following:
- A 3.0 GPA over your entire undergraduate career
- A 3.0 GPA during your last 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits of your undergraduate degree, with most courses graded regularly (not as "pass/fail")
- A 3.0 GPA in a graduate degree, with most courses graded regularly (not as "pass/fail")
- In consideration of the different grading scales used around the world, each academic department evaluates international transcripts to determine on a case-by-case basis whether they demonstrate one of the above requirements.
To apply, you must submit the following materials. For general guidelines for these materials, see the Admission Requirements website.
- Online graduate degree application with graduate degree application fee
- Transcripts from each college or university that you have attended
- Personal statement of 2 to 3 pages describing your reasons for pursuing graduate study, your career aspirations, your special interests within your field, and any unusual features of your background that might need explanation or be of interest to the graduate admissions committee
- Résumé or curriculum vitae
- Letters of recommendation (2 for MA applicants; 3 for PhD applicants)
- Official GRE scores
International students must also submit the following materials. For more information about these materials, see the International Students section of the Admission Requirements website.
- International Student Financial Statement (ISFS) form
- Supporting financial documentation (such as bank statements, scholarship or sponsor letters, etc.)
- Proof of English proficiency (such as official TOEFL/IELTS/PTE Academic scores)
This information is subject to change. While we make every effort to update these program pages, we recommend that you contact the department with questions about program-specific requirements.
Total Enrollment: 37
International / Non-Citizen Enrollment: 20%
GRE Verbal: 81%
*Score(s) represent the AVERAGE for the most recently admitted class. Scoring lower will not result in automatic rejection of your application, and scoring higher does not guarantee acceptance.
Fall: February 1
Spring: October 15
Program taught in: