Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Applied Philosophy

The program information below is valid for the fall 2021 term (September 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021).

The Graduate Studies Academic Calendar is updated 3 times per year, at the start of each academic term (January 1, May 1, September 1). Graduate Studies Academic Calendars from previous terms can be found in the archives.

Graduate research fields

  • Ethics and Political Philosophy
  • Language, Logic and Metaphysics
  • Mind and Cognitive Science
  • Philosophy of Science and Mathematics
  • Admit term(s) 
    • Fall
  • Delivery mode 
    • On-campus
  • Program type 
    • Doctoral
    • Research
  • Registration option(s) 
    • Full-time
    • Part-time
  • Study option(s) 
  • Minimum requirements 
    • Admission requirements are an MA in Philosophy or a related discipline with a minimum 80% average (to qualify for funding). Please note that all PhD students are guaranteed four years of funding. Admissions decisions will be made by the department's Graduate Committee.

  • Application materials 
    • Supplementary information form

      • Statements answering the questions below (at most 300 words for each answer):

        • Question 1: Please provide a brief statement of interest that outlines the areas of philosophy you hope to pursue in the program. Include an explanation of your interests in applied philosophy, and what kind of placement you hope to engage in.

        • Question 2: Please explain why the University of Waterloo’s Department of Philosophy is a good place to pursue such a project, and why your background makes you well suited to pursue it successfully. Include any work or volunteer experience relevant to your interests in applied philosophy.

    • Transcript(s)

      • From previous institutions.

      • At the time of applying, an unofficial transcript is fine; if and when a student is enrolled they will be asked to submit official copies.

    • Writing sample

      • A philosophy paper of around 2500 words is desirable; longer and shorter papers are acceptable too, but please don't send anything longer than 5,000 words.

  • References 
    • Number of references:  3
    • Type of references: 

      academic (1 of which may be from a referee outside of academic philosophy)

  • English language proficiency (ELP) (if applicable)

    Thesis option:

  • Graduate Academic Integrity Module (Graduate AIM)
  • Courses 
    • Students must complete the following courses:

      • PHIL 680A/PHIL 680B Departmental Graduate Seminar twice.

        • The seminar is a graduate level survey course intended to acquaint students with a number of topics under active investigation in the philosophical literature in a specific area of philosophy. The topics covered will vary from year to year, so students will not study the same material twice.

      • 3 one-term graduate courses (0.50 unit weight per course), at least 2 of which are PHIL 675 and PHIL 676, and at least 1 of which is PHIL 674 or PHIL 676.

      • 1 research area course: PHIL 698 Research Area Tutorials for PhD.

        • The intention is that the research area will prepare the student to make a research contribution in a particular area of philosophy.

        • The student selects a Research Area in consultation with the pro tem advisor, and the Area is supervised by a faculty member who is chosen in consultation with the pro tem advisor and approved by the Graduate Officer.While it is possible to do an area in one of the traditional divisions of philosophy (e.g., Metaphysics, Ethics, Logic or History of Philosophy), it will normally be on a more specific topic (e.g., Theories of Meaning and Mental Content, Theories of Human Rights, Theories of Truth, Plato’s Later Dialogues). The faculty member supervising the Area is free to assign readings, require the taking or auditing of relevant courses, assign papers, and so on, and also to determine the basis for assigning the grade. Written work which has been submitted for credit in a course may not be submitted for credit in an Area

      • 1 applied research placement course: PHIL 699 Applied Research Placement Tutorial.

        • The applied research placement is an eight-month activity during which roughly half of the time is spent doing background research and learning relevant to a particular topic, three or four months are spent in a placement with a host organization confronting a practical problem related to that topic, and one month is spent completing writing and research projects.

        • The intention is that the research area will prepare the student to make a research contribution in a particular area of philosophy.

        • The student selects a faculty supervisor for the Applied Research Placement in consultation with their pro tem advisor and the Advisor for Applied Philosophy. The Advisor for Applied Philosophy and the supervisor will work with the student to find a suitable applied philosophy research project in the student's area of interest.

        • The research area and applied research placement must be supervised by two different faculty members.

    • To be admitted to the thesis proposal stage, students must complete these requirements with an average of 83% in the seminars, courses, research area, and applied research placement, with no mark lower than 75%.

    • Students are expected to complete their seminars, course work, research area, and applied research placement during the first two years of their doctoral studies. Students who do not complete this work within two years may only continue in the program at the Department's discretion. The Department may choose to set a further deadline for the completion of outstanding coursework or the research area or the applied research placement on a case-by-case basis. Students who do not meet all such further deadlines must be granted permission by the Department to continue in the program. In a case where the failure to meet progression requirements are solely due to problems in completing the applied research placement that are judged not to be primarily the responsibility of the student, they may be permitted to transfer to the Philosophy PhD program.

  • Link(s) to courses
  • PhD Thesis
    • Thesis Proposal: upon completion of their courses and research areas, students are admitted to the thesis proposal stage. They should then undertake discussions with a member of the Department and invite that person to be supervisor of their doctoral thesis, and should consult with the Graduate Officer concerning the formation of their Thesis Committee. Students will then complete a dissertation prospectus. The project must involve the use of philosophical techniques or concepts to understand actual cases or substantial empirical or interdisciplinary work. The Thesis Committee examines the student about the prospectus as they see fit, though normally in an oral exam. The Committee may pass the proposal; pass it with revisions; require the student to revise the proposal for re-examination; or they may reject the proposal and require the student to withdraw from the program.

    • Thesis: upon successful defence of the dissertation prospectus, students proceed to the thesis stage. The dissertation project may take the form of a traditional monograph, or it may take the form of several scholarly papers on interrelated topics, or it may take the form of scholarly papers together with work of a different type. In the case of the last option, the scholarly work should form the major component of the project, and the final part may take another form: it could be one or several publication for the press (for example, one in-depth article or three op-ed pieces); it could be a policy recommendation; it could be a contribution to industry (for example, part of a corporate ethics code). In the latter case, the student may be examined on the entire dissertation project at the defense, but it is expected that most of the questioning and most of the decision will be based on discussion of the scholarly component. The PhD degree is awarded after the project has been successfully defended in a public meeting and three copies have been deposited in the Graduate Studies Office.

  • Other requirements 
    • Teaching preparation: PhD students will normally complete the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE), CTE's Fundamentals of University Teaching, course in their first year. Completion of this course is required before students are eligible to teach courses independently for the Department of Philosophy. The Department recommends that students who intend to pursue a career in university teaching also complete CTE's Certificate in University Teaching during their time in the program.