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Graduate Admissions: How To Apply

Application Form

Stanford’s Online Application, information about requirements and instructions for applying are available through the Grad Admissions website. The application will open for the next round in Fall quarter. 

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  • NEW: Due to the COVID-19 crisis, GRE scores will not be required in the 2021 admission round.
  • NEW: Please DO NOT mail paper transcripts at this time. We will request them if admitted. 


The online application is due by the following deadlines:

  • Ph.D.: Tuesday, January 5, 2021

  • M.A.: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 

  • Knight Hennessy applicant: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

  • Coterminal M.A. (internal Stanford students only) deadline: end of second week of Winter quarter, Friday, January 15, 2021


Please note that department and university offices will be working remotely after March 13 2020. Please do not mail paper transcripts at this time. 

For problems with the application website, please check the online help in the website.


For a helpful guide on getting into grad school from the School of Humanities and Sciences, please check:

For application fee waivers, apply through:


For exam waivers, or general questons, please contact the Central University Grad Admissions office:

For all other questions, please contact Jill CovingtonPhilosophy Graduate Administrator 

Mailing Address


  • All department offices are currently closed, we are not receiving mail and deliveries.
  • Please DO NOT mail paper transcripts at this time.

Philosophy Department

attn: Graduate Admissions

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305-2155 USA


Supporting Materials


  • For the 2021 round of admissions, please wait until requested to send official paper transcripts. Do not mail paper transcripts at this time. 
  • If you wish to send transcripts during the application period, please only send e-transcripts. 
  • Please upload an unofficial transcript from each school you attended for a year or more with the application.
  • NOTE: An official transcript is one that is received directly from the issuing institution (or CollegeNET CertiFile Service (CHESICC/Educational Perspectives) that bears the seal/signature representing its validity. Official paper transcripts must be sealed and unopened.
  • Transcript information at
  • Please wait to mail official transcripts until we request them.
  • Official e-transcripts can be sent directly by the school or clearinghouse to
  • NEW: All department offices are currently closed, we are not receiving mail and deliveries. Please DO NOT mail paper transcripts at this time.


  • Writing Sample 
  • Should be a recent writing sample on a philosophical topic
  • We recommend you send an example of your best work
  • needs to be uploaded into the application
  • Typically samples are around 20 pages or less
  • If submitting a thesis or document longer than 20 pages, please include a note pointing to most important passages
  • Secondary samples are allowed, please mark which sample is primary if including more than one

Letters of Recommendation 

  • Please have your recommenders submit their confidential letter via the online application.
  • Letters from recommenders are due by the deadline. Please have them in as soon as possible.
  • The application requires a minimum of 3 recommendations.
  • If a recommender is unable to submit their letter via the online application, please let us know. We can accept email letters directly from professors.
  • For email letters, the applicant must also send us a note saying they waive the right to see the recommendation.


  • Please check the grad admissions website for the latest updates about required tests during the pandemic: 
  • Grad admissions requires the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) for most applicants whose first language is not English. This includes US citizens as well as international students.
  • Applicants who have received a Bachelors or higher degree from a U.S. school are usually exempted from the TOEFL.
  • For test criteria, please see the international section of the Grad Admissions webpage. Test information


  • NEW: Due to the COVID-19 crisis, GRE scores will not be required in the 2021 admission round.
  • The GRE general test has been required in the past for Philosophy applications. Due to COVID-19 and the lack of available testing sites, GRE scores will not be required in the 2021 admission round. It may be required again in future cycles. If submitting them, GRE scores must be from within the last 5 years.


Check the status of your application (e.g., letters of recommendation received, official ETS scores, etc.,) by logging into your application account Activity Log.


Knight-Hennessy Scholars

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars ( program cultivates a diverse, multidisciplinary community of emerging leaders from around the world and guides them to collaborate, innovate, and communicate as they prepare to address the complex challenges facing society. Knight-Hennessy Scholars become part of a supportive family of fellow scholars. Through the King Global Leadership Program, scholars will broaden knowledge, develop skills, and strengthen character; this platform provides a collection of community experiences, workshops, meetings with leaders, domestic and global study trips, and personal development opportunities. Knight-Hennessy Scholars also receive funding for graduate study at Stanford University.

  • Apply at 
  • The KH application deadline is October 14, 2020 at 1:00 pm Pacific Time.
  • For more information on the Knight-Hennessy Scholars please see:
  • Applicants also need to apply separately to the department where they wish to study. 
  • The deadline for the application to the Philosophy department for consideration for the KH program is December 8, 2020.

PhD Selection process

The selection of PhD students admitted to the Department of Philosophy is based on an individualized, holistic review of each application, including (but not limited to) the applicant’s academic record, the letters of recommendation, the writing sample, the statement of purpose, the scores on the General GRE (Graduate Record Examination), personal qualities and characteristics, and past accomplishments.