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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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The online application is due by the following deadlines:

  • Ph.D.: Tuesday, January 7, 2020

  • M.A.: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 

  • Knight Hennessy: Tuesday, December 10, 2020

  • Coterminal M.A. (internal Stanford students only) deadline: end of second week of Winter quarter, Friday, January 17, 2020


Please note that department and university offices will be closed for Winter Break from December 21 until January 6. Any mail sent during that time will not be received until January 5.

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

For fee waivers, 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

Philosophy Department

attn: Graduate Admissions

Building 90, Room 91E

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305-2155 USA

(For express/overnight deliveries, you may add "450 Jane Stanford Way" if a street address is required.)


Supporting Materials


  • In addition to uploading a scanned copy of the transcript, applicants must arrange to have two official transcripts sent to the dept. from every postsecondary institution they have attended for at least one academic year as a full-time student.
  • 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 should be sealed and unopened.
  • Transcript information at
  • Official transcripts should be mailed directly to the department to which you are applying (do not mail them to the central university grad admissions office.) 
  • Official e-transcripts should be sent directly by the school or clearinghouse to
  • Official transcripts are due by the deadline.

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 longer document, 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 paper/email letters directly from professors.
  • For paper/email letters, the applicant must also send us a note saying they waive the right to see the recommendation.


  • The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is required of most applicants whose first language is not English. This includes US citizens as well as international students.
  • The university does not accept other tests in lieu of the TOEFL.
  • 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
  • TOEFL scores are due by the deadline.


  • The GRE general test is required for Philosophy applications.
  • GRE scores must be from within the last 5 years.
  • GRE scores are due by the deadline.


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 awards up to 100 high-achieving students every year with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including Master's and PhD's in Philosophy. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by their deadline, and separately apply to the Philosophy department by the Knight Hennessy deadline above.

For more information on the Knight-Hennessy Scholars please see:


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.