Application FAQs | Philosophy & Religion

Application FAQs

What are the most important parts of my application?
The department uses a holistic review process, in which each of the items is critically important to the application. The different elements of the application provide the graduate admissions committee with different information about the applicant¹s abilities and promise in the program. Writing samples and statements of purpose are carefully. The writing sample is our best clue as to your philosophical abilities on papers. The area of philosophy that you write about is much less important than that you demonstrate clarity and rigor in your writing. Your statement of purpose should explain your academic interests and why you think that they would best be served by our philosophy department. Letters of recommendation provide information on the applicant from faculty colleagues in academia and professional sectors. Recommendations additional information from a professional perspective than the personal statement and writing samples provide. The other elements of the application, GRE scores, transcripts, etc., also receive attention based upon the respective information they provide.

But what about the GRE?
The department uses a holistic review process. State education policy requires that we avoid using the GRE as a sole determination of an applicant's ability to perform well in a graduate program. Our decisions are also based on the writing sample, letters of reference, personal statement, and other factors, such as research relevance and departmental vision. Applicants, especially from the international pool of students we receive, have a different set of criteria in test scores if they are applying with English as a second language. The International Program initiates these other requirements and all international students are evaluated on the International Program¹s review prior to allowing the final decision from the department.

When are decisions and offers made?
The Department admissions committee reviews applications several times. If a competitive scholarship or other resource requires the committee's decision by an early deadline, then certain students may be required to respond early; and thus, they are informed earlier and must give an early decision. However, the committee's usual schedule is to contact the first round of accept students in February and continues this process through its waitlist, extending offers in early March. Unless circumstances require accepted applicants to give an early response, the accepted applicants are required to accept or decline offers no later than April 15, which is the standard set by the American Philosophical Association.

I don't have a B.A. in Philosophy. Is this a problem?
Not necessarily. We look primarily for philosophical aptitude, which is indicated by more than an applicant¹s degree in philosophy. Most applicants who have a stronger background in philosophy have an easier time giving evidence of their philosophical aptitude. Given the promise of the application and background, students may be accepted with conditions to take ³leveling² courses, usually several courses in upper-level undergraduate philosophy taken for graduate credit as part of the graduate course requirements towards the respective degree. We welcome applications from a wide range of backgrounds, and we have accepted students who show great promise in philosophical aptitude.

I am an international student. Is this a problem? Is there a minimum TOEFL score required?
We have and have recently had several students from abroad, including students from India, China, and Canada. There is no minimum TOEFL score, but we are concerned that our international students be fluent when they arrive, to get the most out of the program. Not only the TOEFL but also the writing sample and statement of purpose help to indicate this, as do letters of reference. The university offers additional training for international students before they begin serving as teaching assistants. The International Program initiates these other requirements and all international students are evaluated on the International Program's review prior to allowing the final decision from the department.

Are students in the PhD program fully funded?
The department awards funding depending upon a limited number of funded graduate student positions (TA/TF/RA). Students may be admitted to the
program with funding, and committed funding offers are on a four-year commitment. Non-committed funding is dependent upon department resources
determined largely by the College of Liberal Art and Social Sciences and factors, such as external grants carried by individual faculty members. If a student received the four-year committed funding, this may be extended dependent upon available department resources. The State of Texas does not permit this funding commitment beyond six years. All funding is contingent on satisfactory academic progress. In most semesters, this funding takes the form of a Graduate Teaching Assistant or Teaching Fellow. Occasionally the funding may take the form of a Graduate Research Assistantship (assisting a faculty member with research) or a fellowship. Out-of-state fees are waived for students with full-time TA/TF/ and RA positions. Failure to maintain at least an official 3.0 GPA may result in a loss of funding. This means that it is vital to avoid grades of I that result from failure to complete course work in a timely manner.

Are students pursuing a terminal MA funded?
Depending upon available department resources largely determined by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and factors, such as external grants carried by individual faculty members, an MA student may be funded. If an MA student receives a committed funding from the department, it will be a two-year commitment. This may be extended one year depending on resources. The State of Texas will only permit this kind of funding for a three-year period.

Are there any additional fellowships/Scholarships for which I can apply?
The Graduate School has a variety of fellowships and scholarships of a variety of amounts. Some of these awards require department nominations, others are automatically awarded by the graduate school according to certain criteria. It is best to contact the graduate school for information on these. The department has a small award, the REAL Fellowship that comes with a $1,000 award.

I am thinking about applying to the philosophy department. Should I schedule a trip to campus?
Depending upon your location. It is always helpful to visit a program; usually prior to applying phone conversations with the graduate program advisor/admissions committee chair (same person) is the best way to get a breadth of information. Usually, applicants for whom the distance to travel is significant, will wait until they are accepted or placed an application before visiting. In either case, we would like to be accommodating to your visit and you should contact us in advance and we will arrange what we can given the calendar: for you to meet with faculty, some current graduate students, and/or to sit in on one of our graduate classes, if you wish.

I have been offered a place at the philosophy department. Can I come to campus to look around?
We encourage all applicants to whom we have made offers to come to visit the campus and the department. Please contact the Graduate Advisor or Graduate Program Administrator to schedule a visit.