We appreciate your interest in the Department of Philosophy at Western Michigan University and want to provide answers to frequently asked questions. We also hope that these provide some transparency to the admissions process.
- What is the application deadline? February 1 for full funding consideration. We will otherwise review applications as they come in until April 15, but applications received after February 1 are less competitive for funding.
- My undergraduate degree isn't in philosophy: can I still apply? Yes, but be sure to indicate in your personal statement what your trajectory is and why you're applying to graduate programs in philosophy.
- I didn't take the GRE: can I still apply? Yes, though the GRE is not required in order for your application to be considered for our admissions and funding decisions, we prefer you take the test and send us your scores.
- Does [insert some facet of my application] really matter? I know it's a weakness. Maybe, maybe not; the only way to find out is to apply. We don't fetishize any particular part of the application (e.g., GPA, GRE, undergraduate institution, fame of recommenders, etc.) but rather look at things holistically. Put together the best application you can, and we'll be happy to review it.
- Do I have to tailor my application to your program? Applying to graduate programs is a lot of work, and you need to use your time effectively. But it would certainly be useful to us to know why you are applying to Western Michigan University, and with whom you would like to study with—this is certainly appropriate information to include in your personal statement.
- If I receive a funded offer, how long do I have to decide? April 15, at 5 p.m. EST. We take very seriously the American Philosophical Association's Statement on Graduate Student Aid Offers.
- If I'm waitlisted, where do I stand? We do not use an ordered waitlist. Rather, we evaluate the committed class—and pending offers—as spots become available in order to achieve diversity of interests, ensure appropriate faculty mentorship opportunities, and mitigate student competition for Ph.D. applications.
- Should I check in? I don't want to be annoying. Yes, definitely stay in touch. We appreciate knowing that you're interested; feel free to keep us posted on your status, including competing offers.
- How do I learn more about the program before I decide on the offer? The websites help, but we strongly encourage participation in our annual prospectives' weekend. We are able to provide local support (i.e., housing, meals) and look forward to meeting many of you then. We realize that travel is not possible for all of you and are otherwise available (e.g., phone, Skype, email) as well.
- How does funding work? We have a small number of teaching assistantships that offer stipends and tuition remissions. These are competitively awarded. Teaching assistants typically teach discussion sections under the supervision of faculty during their first year, then teach independently in their second year.
- Is there funding other than these assistantships? Yes! The department has a range of other funding opportunities, including, but not limited to grading, research assistants, grant work, administration (e.g., event organizing), etc. Be proactive and seek out opportunities. The University also supports a range of other student jobs, some of which carry tuition remission.
- Is there summer funding? Yes. In addition to any other funding, students may apply for summer teaching. This includes a stipend and three remitted credits. Summer funding is typically less competitive than academic-year funding.
- Any other tips on how to finance this? While graduate assistantships are great, they are only one of several possible avenues. Some creativity and exploration go a long way. Also, consider the resources on our financial aid page.
Courses and faculty
- What sort of courses do you offer? Recent graduate seminars have included things like:
-Self-Knowledge and Transparency (Atkins)In addition to seminar offerings like these, graduate students often take one or more independent studies. This work not only allows for more in-depth focus, but can also be used to develop a writing sample for use in PhD applications.
-Probability Theory (McGrew)
-Contemporary Debates in Epistemology (Alspector-Kelly)
-History of Analytic Philosophy (Martin)
-Varieties of Moral Realism (Kurth)
-Epistemic Closure (Alspector-Kelly)
-Contemporary Political Philosophy (Allhoff)
-The Inessential Indexical? (Atkins)
-Metaphysics: Time & Persistence (Dolson)
-The Philosophical Investigations (Atkins)
-History of Modern Philosophy (Shockey, visiting professor)
-Moral Issues in Criminal Law (Allhoff)
-Realism in Philosophy of Science (Alspector-Kelly)
-Virtue Ethics (Martin)
-Metaphysics in Philosophy of Science (Alspector-Kelly)
-History & Philosophy of Science: Greeks to Galileo (McGrew)
-Psycho-analytics and Analytic Philosophy (Atkins)
-Philosophy of Religion (McGrew)
- Do you expect to be hiring soon? Yes. We have had retirements in recent years and look forward to replacement hires. (Note, though, that several of our emeriti still actively teach.) Our graduate students are actively involved in the hiring process, and we take their preferences—both in terms of overall areas and individual faculty—very seriously.