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Graduate Admissions2022-10-24T17:23:05-04:00

Graduate Admissions


To enter the doctoral program, students must have done well in their previous academic work and must be formally accepted as candidates for the Ph.D. degree by the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. Furthermore, an applicant must have received a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from a college or university of acceptable standing.

Although there are no formal requirements for admission, successful applicants typically have an undergraduate major in philosophy, or a comparable level of preparation.

The Application

A complete application includes the MIT application form, an academic transcript from each college/university attended, and three letters of recommendation.

In addition to the application, all applicants should submit a writing sample in philosophy, ideally of 15-25 pages in length. The writing sample should allow us to assess the applicant’s understanding of a philosophical problem, and ability to evaluate philosophical arguments. This assessment is usually easier if the writing sample explicitly engages with some of the contemporary philosophical literature.


Students are only admitted into the program in the fall. The application deadline is January 2nd for the following September. Decisions are communicated to applicants by early March.


GRE scores are optional: they are not required for admission to the doctoral program. The reporting codes are:

Institute code: 3514
Department code: 2804

MIT requires international applicants whose native language is not English to submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

TOEFL: Minimum score required: 577 (PBT) 90 (IBT)
TOEFL Department codes: 20 (Philosophy)
Institute code: 3514 (MIT)

IELTS: Minimum score required: 6.5
Electronic scores send to: MIT Graduate Admissions

However, the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy does grant waivers. In general, we grant waivers to students who have received a degree from an American or English-speaking university, or who show an extensive background in English. We ask that students who request a TOEFL or IELTS waiver have their recommenders comment in depth on their English speaking, reading and writing skills as a part of the recommendation. We also strongly suggest that they submit a writing sample in English. Applicants may request a waiver in the application.

Accessing the Application Form

To apply, please visit: https://gradapply.mit.edu/phil

The statement of purpose, letters of recommendation and writing sample are submitted on-line. Scanned copies of transcripts are submitted on-line for review purposes but are considered unofficial. Applicants who are admitted will be required to send an official transcript in a university sealed envelope.

The application fee is $75.00 in US funds. Major credit cards are the accepted form of payment. MIT offers fee waivers to students who meet relevant criteria. For criteria and more information, please visit:  https://oge.mit.edu/graduate-admissions/applications/application-fee-waiver/.  If you attended PIKSI or another Undergraduate Diversity Institute in Philosophy, please contact lp-admissions@mit.edu regarding a fee waiver.


Questions regarding the application process can be sent to lp-admissions@mit.edu.


In response to the challenges of teaching, learning, and assessing academic performance during the global COVID-19 pandemic, MIT has adopted the following principle: MIT’s admissions committees and offices for graduate and professional schools will take the significant disruptions of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 into account when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials as part of their regular practice of performing individualized, holistic reviews of each applicant.

In particular, as we review applications now and in the future, we will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Pass/No Record (or Credit/No Credit or Pass/Fail) and other grading options during the unprecedented period of COVID-19 disruptions, whether those decisions were made by institutions or by individual students. We also expect that the individual experiences of applicants will richly inform applications and, as such, they will be considered with the entirety of a student’s record.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a masters program?2019-09-04T18:34:11-04:00

No. The philosophy graduate program is a doctoral program only. In the Boston area, Tufts University offers a masters degree in philosophy.

How long is the Ph.D. program?2019-09-04T18:34:04-04:00

Five years.

Is a master’s degree required to apply to the PhD program?2019-09-04T18:34:56-04:00

A master’s degree is not required. Prospective students may apply to the PhD program direct from their undergraduate studies.

Can I earn a doctoral degree through distance learning?2020-01-30T12:34:40-05:00

No. You can give our  MOOCs a try, though.

Do students get financial support from MIT?2022-03-14T16:56:40-04:00

Yes. Currently, we can support five entering students each year with tuition plus a 12-month stipend. We can also support graduating fifth-years with a one-year post-doc if they are unable to secure a position elsewhere. In special cases, we are able to support sixth year students with tuition plus a 9-month stipend in place of a post-doc.

Although MIT regulations prohibit us from guaranteeing funding for more than any one year, we fully expect to be able to support students in good standing throughout the entire five-year period of the doctoral program. However, the Department has limited funds for financial aid to graduate students, so we encourage you to apply for graduate fellowships from government agencies and foundations.

I am an international applicant. Am I still eligible for financial support from MIT?2019-10-03T15:05:44-04:00

Yes. All admitted students, whether or not they are US citizens, are eligible for support.

Does the Ph.D. program have a language requirement?2019-09-04T18:41:18-04:00


Where’s information about MIT’s placement record, retention data, etc.?2019-10-03T16:14:10-04:00
I uploaded a transcript to the application system. Do I have to mail an official transcript?2019-09-04T18:42:44-04:00

No, only admitted applicants are required to mail official transcripts.

Can students take classes at Harvard?2019-09-04T18:49:47-04:00

Yes. There is also an annual Harvard/MIT graduate philosophy conference. Often Harvard students attend MIT reading groups and vice versa.

Can philosophy Ph.D. students take linguistics classes?2019-10-03T15:31:35-04:00

Yes. We also offer a minor in linguistics.

Can you evaluate my chances of admission before I apply?2019-09-04T18:45:12-04:00

We do not offer pre-application screening.

Can I visit MIT before I apply, and talk with faculty and students?2019-10-03T16:11:07-04:00

Of course. Send an email to any faculty member, who will be happy to arrange some appointments.

The Department of Linguistics and Philosophy — what’s the story?2019-09-04T18:47:56-04:00

Classes in linguistics were originally given within the Department of Modern Languages, and a Ph.D. in linguistics was first offered by that Department in 1961-62. In 1965 the Department of Modern Languages became the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics and, in 1969, the Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics. Prior to 1964 philosophy was taught in the Department of Humanities. The Philosophy Department was formed when a Ph.D. program in philosophy was established in July 1971. In 1976 the curriculum in foreign languages and literatures became part of the responsibility of the Department of Humanities while the curriculum in linguistics became part of the Department of Philosophy to form the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.

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