The PhD in Philosophy

Rice offers a consistently highly-ranked PhD program in Philosophy. The faculty and staff take proactive roles in supporting our graduate students in their pursuit of academic positions and other opportunities. We conduct regular workshops and additional activities to help graduate students at all stages of the PhD program to develop their professional skills. We also work closely with graduating students to ensure they are in the best position possible when they enter the job market. A smaller but highly-ranked PhD program allows for consistent individual attention to the needs of our graduate students that is often impossible in larger programs. The Department of Philosophy strongly encourages applications from women and members of other groups underrepresented in philosophy.

Please note: we do not offer a terminal MA program in Philosophy.

Rice’s PhD in Philosophy is focused on two broad areas that reflect the internationally recognized research strengths of our faculty and that also include the history of these areas:

1. Moral Philosophy & Social and Political Philosophy

  • Neuroethics and Ethics of Technology (Robert Howell)
  • Ethics, Applied Ethics, Political Philosophy, Feminist Philosophy, Philosophy of Sex and Love, LGBTQ Philosophy (Elizabeth Brake)
  • Medical Ethics, Moral Psychology, Bioethics, Normative Ethics (Samuel Reis-Dennis)
  • Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, Moral Psychology (George Sher)
  • Moral Psychology, Action Theory (Timothy Schroeder)
  • History of Political Philosophy, 19th and 20th century German Philosophy (Thimo Heisenberg)

2. Philosophy of Mind & Phenomenology

  • Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Psychology, Philosophy of Neuroscience (Timothy Schroeder)
  • Philosophy of Mind, Phenomenology, Ancient Philosophy (Charles Siewert)
  • Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics, Consciousness, Subjectivity, and Epistemology (Robert Howell
  • 19th and 20th century German Philosophy (Thimo Heisenberg)

General Degree Requirements for the PhD in Philosophy

  • Complete 36 hours of course work. Students with an MA in Philosophy must complete 33 hours of course work.
  • Demonstrate competence in logic.
  • Pass a qualifying examination.
  • Perform satisfactorily on an oral defense of a thesis proposal.
  • Complete a written thesis on a subject approved by the department.
  • Perform satisfactorily on a final oral defense of the written thesis.

Official Graduate Handbook

Please click below to read the most recent official student handbook:

Additional Research Funding and Travel Fellowships

Rice’s Fondren Library maintains a database of internal and external fellowships. The database can be accessed here.

Graduate students can apply for additional funding to the School of Humanities Dean’s Conference, Research, and Professional Advancement Fund. The fund allows each eligible graduate student to apply for up to $1,500 per academic year in support of their research, conference travel, or professional development.

The Lodieska Stockbridge Vaughn Fellowship provides funding for graduate students whose record at Rice show evidence of outstanding achievement and promise. Each spring, department chairs are invited to nominate continuing graduate students for this endowed fellowship. The final recipients are chosen by the Graduate Council. The amount of the fellowship and the number of recipients vary from year to year, but individual fellowships can be in the range of $16,000.

The Humanities Research Center offers the competitive Marilyn Marks Gillet International Travel Fellowship for graduate students in the School of Humanities who need to conduct research abroad over the summer. Travel awards range between $2,500 and $5,000. The funds may be used for, but are not limited to, travel to present papers at conferences, consult archives, interview scholars and authors, take courses, and to participate in workshops.

Graduate students can also apply to Rice’s Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, which offers the Wagoner Foreign Study Scholarship Program. Awards range between $2,000 and $15,000.


Department of Philosophy
Rice University
MS 14
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, Texas 77251-1892
Phone: 713 348-4994
Fax: 713 348-5847

Department Chair
Robert Howell

Department Administrator
Nicole Switzer

Director of Graduate Studies
Samuel Reis-Dennis


Graduate Program Administrator
Lydia Westbrook
Phone: 713-348-2092