• Please note that the application period for Winter 2023 has closed
  • Fall 2023 application deadline for international students is January 15, 2023 (or earlier, if specified by the department below)
  • Fall 2023 application deadline for Canadian students varies by department (see below)



  • Department of Philosophy
  • Leacock Building, 9th floor
  • 855 Sherbrooke Street West
  • Montreal QC H3A 2T7
  • Canada
  • Telephone: 514-398-6060
  • Email: info.philosophy [at]
  • Website:

About Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy has particular strength in the following areas:

  • Ancient Philosophy;
  • Early Modern Philosophy;
  • Kant and post-Kantian German Philosophy;
  • Philosophy of Language and Philosophy of Mind;
  • Aesthetics;
  • Moral and Political Philosophy;
  • Feminist Philosophy;
  • History and Philosophy of Science and Mathematics;
  • Contemporary European Philosophy.

The Department offers assistance to students in every aspect of placement. Our Placement Officer counsels students about coursework and areas of competence, helps to establish evidence of teaching ability, administers the dossier for job applications, and provides advice and follow-up in the interview process. Many of our graduates have gone on to do postdoctoral research and over 80% are now in tenure track or sessional appointments.

The Department offers courses of study leading to the Ph.D. in Philosophy. It also offers, in conjunction with the Biomedical Ethics Unit, a course of study leading to the M.A. degree in Bioethics.

Ph.D. Program

By December 15 of their third year in the program (Ph.D. 3) for students admitted at Ph.D. 1 and August 15 in their second year in the program (Ph.D. 3) for students admitted at Ph.D. 2, students must submit a research paper (the “candidacy paper” [3 credits]), which may be worked up from a paper written to fulfil the requirements of a graduate course, to a Thesis Advancement Committee consisting of a least two members of the staff of the Department. The membership of this committee will be determined by the Graduate Director in consultation with the student; it is anticipated that members of this committee would, in principle, direct the student's thesis.

This committee assigns a grade to the student's paper and reviews her or his graduate performance; on the basis of its assessment and review, it recommends to the Department as a whole either to permit the student to continue with the Ph.D. program and undertake a thesis or to decline to permit the student to continue. Two necessary conditions for a positive recommendation are that the student (a) receive a grade of at least B+ on the candidacy paper, and (b) have at least a 3.5 GPA (on the undergraduate Grade Point scale) in the coursework required for the program.

The Department as a whole, taking into account the Thesis Advancement Committee's recommendation and the student's overall academic record in the program, decides whether to permit the student to continue. Students who do not receive a positive recommendation but who satisfy Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies requirements (no courses below a B- and completion of 45 credits) will be recommended to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by the Department to transfer from the Ph.D. program to the M.A. program.

Graduate students are expected to continue to contribute to the intellectual life of the Department after being promoted to candidacy. They can do so by participating in reading and discussion groups and, most of all, by auditing seminars both within and outside their areas of specialty.

Master of Arts (M.A.) Philosophy (Thesis): Bioethics (45 credits)

The Master's in Bioethics is an interdisciplinary academic program that emphasizes both the conceptual and the practical aspects of bioethics. Ordinarily, it takes at least two years to complete, although some students have completed it in 18 months. The first year is devoted to coursework (including a clinical practicum), and the second year is devoted to a master's thesis on a topic in bioethics that also satisfies the requirements of the base discipline.

The curriculum is composed of required courses (6 credits) offered in the Biomedical Ethics Unit, bioethics courses (6 credits minimum) offered by the base faculty or department, and any graduate course required or accepted by a base faculty for the granting of a master's degree, for a total of 21 credits. A minimum of 45 credits is required, including the thesis. Students graduate with a master's degree from the faculty of their base discipline (M.A., M.Sc., or LL.M.) with a specialization in bioethics.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Philosophy

The program is intended for students with a B.A. or M.A. in Philosophy, though some exceptions may be possible. It is a pluralist department with an excellent professor-to-student ratio, strong preparation for dissertation work, and guaranteed full funding for four years for all admitted Ph.D. students.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Philosophy: Environment

The graduate option in Environment provides students with an appreciation for the role of science in informed decision-making in the environmental sector, and its influence on political, socio-economic, and ethical judgments. The option also provides a forum whereby graduate students bring their disciplinary perspectives together and enrich each other's learning through structured courses, formal seminars, and informal discussions and networking.

Students who have been admitted through their home department or faculty may apply for admission to the option. Option requirements are consistent across academic units. The option is coordinated by the Bieler School of Environment (BSE), in partnership with participating academic units.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Philosophy: Gender and Women's Studies

The graduate option in Gender and Women's Studies is an interdisciplinary program for students who meet the degree requirements in Philosophy who wish to earn 9 additional credits of approved coursework focusing on gender and women's studies, and issues in feminist research and methods. The student's doctoral thesis must be on a topic centrally relating to issues of gender and/or women's studies.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Philosophy: Teaching Philosophy

The Ph.D. in Philosophy: Teaching Philosophy focuses on the theoretical and practical skills necessary to become an effective teacher of philosophy, including pedagogical issues that may be specific to the discipline of philosophy. Guidance is provided by a faculty mentor. Participation in the broader teaching activities of the Department (e.g., teaching assistants, training workshops, guest lecturing).

Taken from Programs, Courses and University Regulations 2022-2023 (last updated Aug. 23, 2022).

Philosophy Admission Requirements and Application Procedures

Admission Requirements


The Department admits students into two degrees: Master in Arts, specialization in Biomedical Ethics, and a Doctor in Philosophy. PhD1 is a direct-entry program for students with an Honours BA degree in Philosophy or the equivalent. PhD2 is a program for students who hold an MA degree in Philosophy, or equivalent. At present, we do not consider applicants for an MA in Philosophy. We offer an MA specialization in Bioethics in conjunction with the Biomedical Ethics Unit. Information for students interested in the Specialty MA in Biomedical Ethics can be found here: .

The Department considers an adequate undergraduate training in philosophy to be one that furnishes a student with:

  1. A general knowledge of the history of Western philosophy: Greek, Medieval, Modern;
  2. A systematic knowledge of the main philosophical disciplines in their contemporary as well as historical contexts: logic, ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics;
  3. An ability to present, in written form, clear and substantial reconstructions and analyses of the materials normally studied in the areas mentioned in (1) and (2).

To demonstrate their competence in these areas, applicants must submit transcripts of academic work, three letters of recommendation from persons with whom they have studied, and at least one substantial example (approximately 15–20 typewritten pages) of their written philosophical work.

In addition, applicants from North America whose first language is English are strongly encouraged to submit scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Applicants to graduate studies whose mother tongue is not English, and who have not completed an undergraduate or graduate degree from a recognized foreign institution where English is the language of instruction or from a recognized Canadian institution (anglophone or francophone), must submit documented proof of competency in oral and written English (TOEFL score).

M.A. (Bioethics)

Students applying to the Bioethics Specialty program must write an M.A. thesis proposal. All applications to this program must also receive the approval of the Director of the Specialty program. Students who apply for this program should note that they must participate in a practicum, which continues beyond the end of their second term of classes.

Application Procedures

McGill’s online application form for graduate program candidates is available at

See University Regulations & Resources > Graduate > Graduate Admissions and Application Procedures > Application Procedures for detailed application procedures.

Additional Requirements

The items and clarifications below are additional requirements set by this department:

  • Letters of Reference – three (3) original letters of reference, from three qualified individuals familiar with your work
  • Writing Sample (15–20 pages) – a sample of your written work in philosophy
  • Personal Statement (2–3 pages) – explaining your reasons for wishing to undertake graduate studies in philosophy at McGill University

Application Dates and Deadlines

Application opening dates are set by Enrolment Services in consultation with Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS), while application deadlines are set by the Department of Philosophy and may be revised at any time. Applicants must verify all deadlines and documentation requirements well in advance on the appropriate McGill departmental website; please consult the list at

  Application Opening Dates Application Deadlines
  All Applicants Non-Canadian citizens (incl. Special, Visiting & Exchange) Canadian citizens/Perm. residents of Canada (incl. Special, Visiting & Exchange) Current McGill Students (any citizenship)
Fall Term: Sept. 15 Jan. 15 Jan. 15 Jan. 15
Winter Term: N/A N/A N/A N/A
Summer Term: N/A N/A N/A N/A

Admission to graduate studies is competitive; accordingly, late and/or incomplete applications are considered only as time and space permit.

Note: The Department considers admissions for the Fall term only. Applications for Winter or Summer term admission will not be considered.
Taken from Programs, Courses and University Regulations 2022-2023 (last updated Feb. 7, 2022).
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