Philosophy, PhD

The School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies offers a doctoral program in philosophy that focuses on both practical and applied philosophy. “Practical” philosophy focuses on value questions, and includes ethics, socio-political philosophy and philosophy of law. We include in “applied philosophy” both applications of philosophical theories to everyday phenomena and the application of research and tools developed in other disciplines to addressing philosophical questions. Students are immersed in an invigorating community of creative graduate students and top intellectual thinkers, including leading philosophers from outside ASU through a thriving colloquium schedule that enables students to participate in discussion of cutting-edge developments in philosophy. 

Graduates of the program are prepared with advanced research, analytical writing, and speaking skills that will lead them into world-changing careers in academia, law, civil service and publishing.

6 years to degree
12 faculty
100% of students funded

Degree Overview

The PhD Philosophy Program requires a minimum of 84 credit hours and includes coursework, a comprehensive examination, prospectus and dissertation.   

Students may design dissertation projects in any of the major subfields of philosophy. For their interdisciplinary coursework supporting the dissertation project, students might, for example, pursue a certificate in social transformation, gender studies, responsible innovation in sciences or engineering and society, etc. 

How to apply

Prospective students are encouraged to correspond with faculty who share their interests and to visit campus. Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited institution. 

A full application requires:

Application deadline is January 15. 

For more information on the application process and requirements, please click here

SHPRS is helping prepare me for my future by providing a strong foundational knowledge in applied ethics and philosophy that prepares me for research and the job market. This department is unique in that it offers opportunities to go into my field of study and do on the groundwork, such as teaching philosophy at the Arizona State Prison or interning at the Mayo Clinic. 

Aubrey Spivey, current PhD candidate


The curriculum of the program combines practical and applied philosophy. 

Practical philosophy includes the fields of ethics, philosophy of law, social and political philosophy, feminist ethics and political philosophy. Applied philosophy includes both the application of theories developed within any of the subdisciplines of philosophy to everyday problems or phenomena and the application of research produced by methods used in other disciplines in order to understand and address philosophical questions. 

Requirements and ElectivesHours
Required Core Areas18
Culminating Experience12
Total Hours Required84

*Students entering with an MA may apply 30 credit hours toward the 84 required credit hours with approval of the academic unit and the Graduate College. These 30 credit hours will be applied toward elective requirements.

Courses and electives

Below is a list of courses that may be offered in the program with an associated category. The list is not exhaustive and the categories may change depending on the faculty member who teaches the course in a given semester. Students should check with the instructor or Director of Graduate Studies each semester to determine which areas are satisfied by the courses offered. 


Students must choose 6 courses off the following list. The chosen courses must include 1 course each of the 6 fields. 


PHI 560: Topics in Epistemology (3 credits)
PHI 562: Perception (3 credits)
PHI 565: Probabilism (3 credits)

Applied Philosophy

PHI 520: Topics in Applied Philosophy (3 credits)
PHI 521: Bioethics (3 credits)
PHI 522: Ethics of Sustainability (3 credits)
PHI 524: Disaster Ethics (3 credits)
PHI 525: Rational Choice (3 credits)
PHI 526: Evolution and Strategic Interaction (3 credits)
PHI 527: Justice and Reparations (3 credits)
PHI 529: Feminist Philosophy (3 credits)
PHI 530: Moral Psychology (3 credits)
PHI 531: Philosophy of Emotion (3 credits)
PHI 532: Experimental Philosophy (3 credits)
PHI 533: Philosophy and Art (3 credits)

Formal Methods

PHI 555: Topics in Formal Methods (3 credits)
PHI 556: Advanced Symbolic Logic (3 credits)

History of Philosophy

PHI 581: Studies in Ancient Greek Philosophy (3 credits) 
PHI 582: Studies in Modern Philosophy (3 credits)
PHI 586: 20th and 21st Century Philosophers (3 credits)
PHI 587: Topics in the History of Philosophy (3 credits)


PHI 570: Topics in Metaphysics (3 credits) 
PHI 571: Studies in Philosophy of Mind (3 credits) 
PHI 572: Studies in Philosophy of Language (3 credits) 
PHI 576: Realism (3 credits)

Value Theory

PHI 540: Topics in Value Theory (3 credits)  
PHI 541: Normative Ethics (3 credits)  
PHI 544: Studies in Meta-Ethics (3 credits)  
PHI 545: Studies in Philosophy of Law (3 credits)  
PHI 546: Studies in Political Philosophy (3 credits) 

Courses not taken as core courses from above list can be taken as electives. 

In addition, at least 9 credit hours and no more than 18 credit hours must be from other disciplines supporting the student's proposed dissertation area. 

PHI 792: Research (12 credits) 

PHI 799: Dissertation (12 credits)