Top Low-Cost Doctoral Programs in Philosophy

phd in philosophy

Philosophy programs develop highly educated thinkers with a keen understanding of an increasingly complex world. A Ph.D. in philosophy paves the way for a career in higher education and research. Philosophy majors also do well in the business arena as innovators and entrepreneurs. 

Students typically complete a doctoral program in 4-5 years. The curriculum explores topics such as law and society, value theory, ethical theory, and applied philosophy. Students must conduct research and develop a dissertation. They develop advanced knowledge of human behavior and analytical/problem-solving skills.

Many Ph.D. in philosophy graduates pursue roles as college professors, helping to educate the next generation of students and thinkers. Professors perform research and make $80,790 in median pay, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some graduates may prefer roles as college administrators who oversee academics, student services, and other programs. College administrators enjoy even higher compensation with a $97,500 annual median pay.

Political scientists with a Ph.D. in philosophy possess a deep understanding of political systems and trends. They make a median pay of $125,350 per year, classifying them as top earners.   Learners will need at least a bachelor’s to enroll in a Ph.D. in philosophy. 

This ranking lists 15 of the best and most affordable Ph.D. in philosophy programs available today. 

Featured Programs

Methodology

To qualify for our ranking of the best and most affordable Ph.D. in philosophy programs, the schools considered must offer the program for less than $30,000 per year in tuition costs. From there, we considered tuition, student-to-faculty ratio, ROI according to Payscale.com, and student support availability. In cases of a tie, the more affordable program was awarded the higher ranking.


Affordable Doctoral Programs in Philosophy

#1 — Purdue University-West Lafayette

West Lafayette, Indiana

  • Tuition: Resident: $4,996 flat rate for eight or more credits; nonresident: $14,397 flat rate for eight or more credits
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Purdue University offers an affordable Ph.D. in philosophy on campus in West Lafayette.

Students complete 12 courses during the first two years of the five-year program. The courses cover four areas: the history of philosophy; value theory; formal methods; and metaphysics, epistemology, and science. Students engage in specialized dissertation research beginning in the third year. They also must pass a written and oral exam on their dissertation topic.

This program offers funding to incoming Ph.D. students through an assistantship that provides a $16,000 annual salary and tuition remission. Alternatively, students may qualify for competitive fellowships that pay about $20,000 and tuition remission. Admission requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree and a minimum 3.4 GPA.

#2 — Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

  • Tuition: Resident: $837 per credit; nonresident: $1,308 per credit
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Arizona State University offers a newly redesigned Ph.D. in philosophy. Students complete the degree on the Tempe campus. The 84-credit program focuses on applied philosophy and offers an interdisciplinary curriculum.

Students complete core coursework in areas such as applied philosophy, epistemology, formal methods, and the history of philosophy. They learn how to apply philosophy theories to address everyday challenges and phenomena. Students also use research findings to address philosophical questions.

Students design dissertation projects in philosophy subfields, and culminate the program with a dissertation. The department’s graduate teaching assistantships offer full tuition and half tuition remission. Learners can enroll with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in any major, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and GRE scores.

#3 — University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

  • Tuition: Resident: $12,740 per year tuition and fees; nonresident: $30,134 per year tuition and fees
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

At the University of Florida, students complete a 90-credit Ph.D. in philosophy on campus in Gainesville. The program offers a unique concentration in the ethics of technology. Students entering the program without a master’s complete a 36-credit MA as part of the degree. The MA constitutes the first two years of the 4-5-year Ph.D.

Once students pass a final MA exam, they proceed to the Ph.D. curriculum. They explore epistemology, ethical theory, and the foundations of analytic philosophy. Students complete 12 hours of research for the doctoral dissertation. All participants complete two semesters of teaching that helps pay for their education. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and school transcripts, but GRE scores are not needed.

#4 — University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Tuition: Residents: $336 per credit; nonresidents: $1,078 per credit
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

The University of New Mexico’s Ph.D. in philosophy offers a curriculum with various concentrations. The philosophy department lists particular strengths in areas such as the philosophy of mind, phenomenology and existentialism, and the philosophy of psychology/psychoanalysis. The 4-6-year program requires 48 credits of graduate coursework. Students complete required courses in four main areas: ethics, the history of philosophy, metaphysics, and the theory of knowledge.

Students must pass both comprehensive and dissertation prospectus exams. They must also pass an oral dissertation defense. The department provides financial support through teaching assistantships and other financial aid. Students enter the program with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and no GRE scores are needed.

#5 — Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, New York

  • Tuition: Residents: $471 per credit; nonresidents: $963 per credit
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Stony Brook University’s Ph.D. in philosophy features interdisciplinary research and the development of advanced foreign language skills. The department enjoys renown for its continental philosophy concentration, which emphasizes French and German thought.

The curriculum includes required seminars in three categories: the history of philosophy, contemporary philosophy, and interface studies. A required teaching practicum develops students’ pedagogical skills.

Students spend their fourth year on dissertation research and writing. A unique fellowship opportunity funds one year of dissertation work at a college in Germany. Admitted students receive a teaching assistantship that pays tuition and a stipend for five years. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree, some philosophy coursework. No GRE scores are required.

#6 — SUNY-Binghamton

Binghamton, New York

  • Tuition: Residents: $5,655 per semester; nonresidents: $11,550 per semester
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

SUNY-Binghamton’s philosophy department offers a traditional education in philosophy. Students study Anglo-American, continental European, and emerging philosophical traditions. The Ph.D. in philosophy offers specializations in political, social, ethical, and/or legal philosophy. Students complete a 32-credit MA in philosophy as part of this degree; the program also accepts students who already earned an MA in philosophy.

The MA requires seminars on ethics, Anglo-American tradition, and social and political philosophy. The Ph.D. curriculum requires at least 24 additional credits. Students complete a qualifying exam and their dissertation.

Philosophy students may enter this program with or without funding. They may receive a teaching assistantship, which includes a tuition scholarship and stipend. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

#7 — Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

  • Tuition: Residents: $479 per credit; nonresidents: $1,110 per credit
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

About 40 students enroll in Florida State University’s graduate program in philosophy. Students can enroll in the MA in philosophy track and then continue onto the Ph.D. program. Alternatively, they may enter the Ph.D. in philosophy with an MA and receive credit for their previous education.

Coursework explores topics such as philosophical logic, the philosophy of language, ethics, and metaphysics. Students must pass a preliminary doctoral examination and subsequently defend their thesis. Teaching assistantships provide classroom experience.

Traditionally, students in both the MA and Ph.D. tracks receive full funding, which includes a tuition waiver and a stipend. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree in any major and GRE scores for the Ph.D. track.

#8 — Temple University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Tuition: Residents: $942 per credit; Nonresidents: $1,297 per credit
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

One of the nation’s top research colleges, Temple University offers a 42-credit Ph.D. in philosophy. The degree stresses both knowledge breadth and application in real-world contexts. Students complete the Ph.D. on Temple’s main campus and the Center City campus.

Students take coursework exploring subjects such as the theory of knowledge, Kant/post-Kantian European philosophy, and feminist epistemology and the philosophy of science.

They develop essays that build their research and publishing expertise. They culminate the program with a dissertation. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and GRE scores.

#9 — SUNY at Albany

Albany, New York

  • Tuition: Residents $5,655 per semester; nonresidents: $11,550 per semester
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

The University at Albany’s Ph.D. in philosophy requires 60 credits for completion. Degree-seekers may also earn an MA in philosophy on their path to the Ph.D. Required Ph.D. courses explore the theory of knowledge, metaphysics, ancient ethical theory, and the history of political philosophy.

Students complete 12 credits in one of two specializations: knowledge and representation or values and society. Doctoral students develop a dissertation on their chosen topic. They must pass both a comprehensive examination and Ph.D. topical examination. The department’s limited number of fellowships and teaching assistantships help doctoral students pay for their education. In exchange for either, participants may receive full or partial tuition waivers. Admission requires at least a bachelor’s degree.

#10 — University at Buffalo

Buffalo, New York

  • Tuition: Residents: $5,655 per semester; nonresidents: $11,550 per semester
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

At the University at Buffalo, the department of philosophy offers coursework in most of philosophy’s subfields. The curriculum includes seminars, tutorials, and dissertation credit. Required courses explore topics such as the history of philosophy, value theory, and metaphysics/epistemology.

Enrollees must pass an examination on their research topic before they write a dissertation. The department offers limited financial assistance that may include assistantships and fellowships. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and minimum 3.0 GPA, but no GRE scores are needed.

#11 — University of Missouri-Columbia

Columbia, Missouri

  • Tuition: Residents: $414 per credit; nonresidents: $1,135 per credit
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Philosophy students at the University of Missouri receive extensive training in research and teaching from renowned faculty. They enter the program with a bachelor’s degree and earn an master’s in philosophy as part of the overall Ph.D. program. Students study key areas such as ethics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and various specialties.

They develop a dissertation and build a strong professional network through the department’s colloquia and conference series. Assistantships provide teaching experience and tuition funding. Fellowships may also provide tuition waivers and a modest stipend. Admission requires a bachelor’ s degree and competitive GPA scores, but no GRE scores are needed.

#12 — University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida

  • Tuition: Residents: $7,840 tuition and fees per 18 credits; nonresidents: $15,864 tuition and fees per 18 credits
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

The University of South Florida’s Ph.D. in philosophy produces teachers and scholars with a deep understanding of the field. The degree requires 90 credits that students complete on campus in Tampa.

Students complete two core seminars and choose a general concentration or concentration in philosophy and religion. The philosophy and religion concentration explores subjects such as religion in America, modern Christian thought, and studies in biblical archeology.

All students complete a comprehensive exam and a research dissertation. Teaching assistantships provide tuition waivers and stipends. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and competitive GRE scores.

#13 — University of Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee

  • Tuition: Residents: $521 per credit; nonresidents: $723 per credit
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

The Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Memphis prepares students to apply their advanced training in fields outside of academia such as law, medicine, and secondary education.

The curriculum requires core courses in subjects such as the history of philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology. A seminar develops teaching skills. Students complete a dissertation proposal and research dissertation and must pass a comprehensive exam.

Teaching assistantships help students fund their education. TAs serve as tutors, graders, and discussion leaders in the first year. In the second year, they teach introductory courses. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

#14 — University of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Tuition: Residents $1,205 per credit; nonresidents: $4,281 per credit
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Founded in 1850, the University of Utah is the state’s flagship college. The Ph.D. in philosophy provides training in philosophy and complementary disciplines such as law, computer science, and health specialties. Students can earn a master’s in philosophy as part of the program if they enter the program without one.

The curriculum requires core coursework in the history of philosophy, ethics and value theory, formal methods, and metaphysics and epistemology. Students must develop a dissertation and pass a qualifying exam.

Teaching assistantships provide both experience in the classroom and financial support. The position provides a tuition waiver and health insurance. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA, but GRE scores are not needed.

#15 — Wayne State University

Detroit, Michigan

  • Tuition: Residents: $678 per credit; nonresidents: $1,469 per credit
  • Delivery Format: Classroom

Wayne State University offers a Ph.D. in philosophy with coursework in key areas such as logic, value theory, and metaphysics/epistemology.

Students complete two preliminary essays by their fourth year, and pass an oral dissertation prospectus examination by their fifth. Doctoral students give classroom lectures under faculty supervision. Teaching assistantships and fellowships provide tuition waivers and stipends. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.


About Doctor of Philosophy Degree Programs

Philosophy Ph.D. programs represent the apex of academic study in the discipline. These highly involved and challenging degree paths prepare graduates for high-level positions in academia as professors, scholars, and researchers.

Students enrolled in a Ph.D. in Philosophy program can expect to attend classes, write scholarly papers, pass examinations, participate in lecture series, conduct research, and prepare and defend a doctoral dissertation. Those who plan to teach philosophy at the college level after graduation may also be asked to participate in a teaching practicum.

Frequently Asked Questions

Asking the right questions is an important part of any graduate program in philosophy. It’s also pertinent to finding the right doctoral plan of study in the field. Below we will address some of the most commonly posed questions about philosophy Ph.D. programs. Keep in mind that the information we provide is very general. If you have specific questions about a particular Ph.D. philosophy program or school, it’s best to direct those to an admissions counselor at the college or university you’re interested in attending.

Q: Can I apply to a doctoral program in philosophy without a master’s degree?

A: Yes. Integrated MA/Ph.D. in philosophy programs are available that allow you to earn your master’s degree in philosophy while simultaneously working toward your doctoral degree.

Q: How long does it take to earn a Ph.D. in Philosophy?

A: Completion time for a doctorate in philosophy will vary depending on a number of different factors, including specific program requirements as well as your academic background. Typically, though, you can expect to spend between 5-7 years on your graduate coursework and dissertation.

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