How Do I Get a PhD in Political Philosophy?

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  • Written By: Bobby R. Goldsmith
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2019
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To get a PhD in political philosophy, you will need to accomplish several educational tasks in a particular order. Obtaining a PhD may require that you possess a master's degree in political philosophy or a related subject, but this is not necessarily the case. Earning any doctoral degree involves intensive study on a particular subject, along with the completion of an exam as well as the completion and defense of a dissertation on a particular aspect of the subject being studied. For political philosophy, the post graduate experience will involve focusing on elements of political thought from antiquity to modern times.

In order to get a PhD in political philosophy, you will need to acquire a bachelor's degree in political philosophy, or in a subject that directly related, such as political science, history or philosophy. A master's degree may be required, but it may also be a degree that you obtain during the course of your PhD work. The application will vary by institution, but generally you will need qualifying scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) that you took when you completed your bachelor's degree, as well as three letters of recommendation from previous professors and your complete transcripts. You may also need to complete an interview with the department chair of the universities that you are applying to.


Once accepted, your program for a PhD in political philosophy will begin with an orientation, and in some instances you will be given the option to teach or assist with undergraduate political philosophy courses in exchange for teaching experience and a stipend. This opportunity can be especially helpful if you plan to use your PhD in political philosophy to teach following completion of the program. Teaching assistant experience may also help integrate you into the university's political philosophy department at an accelerated pace.

The course load required for a PhD in political philosophy varies depending upon the university, the particular program, and the emphasis that you wish to pursue. For many programs, the average number of credit hours required for a political philosophy PhD is between 22 and 30. Once you have completed the first or second academic term, you will need to select an emphasis, a dissertation topic, adviser, and a committee to evaluate and approve your completed dissertation.

Political philosophy is relevant to every society in human history. You can choose an emphasis that focuses on political thought in a particular culture or during a particular period in history. You may also elect to focus your study on the comprehensive works of one political philosopher or on the tenets of a particular school of political thought.


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