The program information below is valid for the winter 2024 term (January 1, 2024 - April 30, 2024).

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 
    • The average required for admission to the PhD in Philosophy program is 80%.
    • The typical background for PhD students is a Master of Arts (MA) in Philosophy.
    • Applicants with a Master’s in a related discipline are encouraged to apply. Depending on the amount of philosophy background, these applicants may be admitted to the PhD in Philosophy program or may be admitted to the MA in Philosophy program. (A separate application to the MA program is not required.)
  • Application materials 
    • Supplementary information form
      • Statements answering the questions below (at most 250 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.
        • 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.
    • 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

  • 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.
        • 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.
      • 5 one-term Philosophy graduate courses (0.50 unit weight per course), at least 2 of which are PHIL 674 Graduate Courses.
      • With the approval of the Graduate Officer, a student may replace one Philosophy graduate course (0.50 unit weight) with a graduate course from another department.
      • 1 research area course (PHIL 698 Research Area Tutorials for PhD).
        • The intention is that each 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 Research Area in consultation with their pro tem advisor and 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 a Research Area will determine the program for it, which normally should be designed to be completed by the student in two terms. In determining the assignments for the Research Area, the faculty member may assign readings and assign papers, and may also require the taking or auditing of relevant courses if a student requires enhanced foundational knowledge of theory, methods, or topic area. The faculty member will also determine the basis for assigning the grade for the Research Area. The Research Area supervisor may, in consultation with the Graduate Officer, choose to have a second faculty member participate in the assessment of any assignment or component. Work which has been submitted for credit in a course may not be submitted for credit in a Research Area.
    • To be admitted to the thesis proposal stage, students must complete these courses (i.e., seminar, courses, and research area) with an average of 83% and no mark lower than 75%.
    • Students are expected to complete their courses (i.e., seminar, courses, and research area) during the first five terms of their doctoral studies. Students who do not complete this work within five terms 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 on a case-by-case basis. Students who do not meet all such further deadlines may be required to withdraw from the program.
  • Link(s) to courses
  • PhD Thesis Proposal
    • Upon completion of their courses (i.e., seminar, courses, and research area), 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 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. At the re-examination the Committee may pass the proposal; or they may reject the proposal and require the student to withdraw from the program.
  • PhD Thesis
    • Upon successful defence of the dissertation prospectus, students proceed to the thesis stage. The PhD degree is awarded after the thesis has been successfully defended in a public meeting and the student has submitted the final approved version of their thesis to UWSpace.
  • 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.