Applying to the PhD program in Philosophy | College of Arts

Applying to the PhD program in Philosophy

Components of an application (deadline: January 8, 2021)

A complete application consists of the following documents (please see detailed explanations below):

  • The completed online application
  • Official transcripts of your previous degrees
  • Statement of research
  • Two letters of recommendation (including Assessment form)
  • Writing sample
  • Results of a standardized English language test if your first language is not English

Completed online application

The University of Guelph processes graduate school applications online. Please see the “Applying to Guelph” page for an overview of the process.  Under Step 4 there is a link to the actual application website.


Applicants are required to upload official transcripts of their previous degrees. Please note: It is quite usual for official transcripts to take several weeks to be obtained from universities within Canada even when the person requesting them is within Canada. It takes longer to obtain one from the US or elsewhere. Even when obtaining an official transcript from the university you are currently attending, it can take well over a week. It is the applicant's responsibility to leave plenty of time for this and to ensure that the official transcripts are uploaded by the deadline.

In nearly all cases the official transcripts you send in will show that you are currently attending a university, including for the Fall term preceding the application. Often the official transcripts received by the deadline do not show the grades for that Fall term. It is important that the official transcripts be received by the deadline, even if Fall grades are not shown.

Official transcripts in languages other than English or French must be accompanied by a certified literal translation.

Statement of research

This statement should include a few words about your background, your interest in philosophy, your interest in a particular topic that you are planning to research, why it is a worthwhile project, why you can carry it out, and with whom you are planning to work. The statement should give a clear indication of the field in which you hope to do your research and it will be helpful for you to give an indication of the topic, issue or piece of philosophical writing, etc. that will be the focus of your work. Try to be realistic about the scope of the project and avoid sweepingly broad descriptions. It should be between 600 to 800 words, single spaced, using a 12 point font.

Letters of recommendation

You need two letters of recommendation from individuals who are well acquainted with your philosophical abilities. Your referees should complete the Assessment form and reference letter at the link provided them by the Office of Graduate Studies. Applicants are urged to send reminders to their referees as the deadline approaches.

Writing sample

Please keep the sample of work to 5,000 words or shorter. Select just one sample of work to upload. Please add a cover page with your name and the program you are applying to, and remove your name from all other pages.

Applicants who do not have a degree in philosophy should nevertheless submit a sample of writing that displays their philosophical ability and should seek to have their referees address, as far as possible, the applicant's aptitude for philosophical study and research.

English language test results (if required)

If your first language is not English, you will be required to submit the results of a standardized language test. Please see the link here for acceptable tests and required scores. 

Further information

Application fee

The application fee is $110 and your payment options will be made available to you at the end of the online application process.


The deadline is for the upload of all items involved in the application for admission in the Fall semester. Please refer to your WebAdvisor Checklist for these requirements.

The Philosophy Department does not admit PhD students in the Winter or Summer semesters. Applicants are urged to begin work on the application several months before this deadline, given what it involves (e.g., securing official transcripts, securing two referees, preparing your letter of intent, and so on).

If you have any inquiries about the application process, please contact Janet Thackray.

Please note

In assessing an application for admission several factors are taken into account including the grade-point average of the last four semesters or two years of full-time equivalent study, the letters of reference, the sample of written work, and the statement of interest. Applicants are not required to write the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Potential applicants are welcome to visit the department before applying. Please contact the department to make arrangements to do this.

International students

The International Student Advisor is a valuable resource for international graduate students. Please see also the Office of Graduate Studies' International Students page concerning graduate applications.

If the applicant's undergraduate degree was completed in a country where English is not the first language, English-language proficiency must be documented at the time of application; see the aforementioned page by the Office of Graduate Studies for details.

International students should be realistic in their estimation of the costs of living and studying in Canada.  In addition to the special tuition fees for international graduate students, there are also some other non-academic and graduate student organization fees. All international students and their dependents must enroll in the University Health Insurance Plan as soon as they arrive in Ontario.

Some funding may be available on a competitive basis for students in the program but typically this will not completely cover the total cost of study. See the Registrar's Funding Graduate Studies page for information.