Graduate Admissions

Graduate Admissions

Application Deadlines

The Department of Philosophy has both spring and fall admissions cycles. Currently, the Department is accepting applications for the spring semester. The final deadline to apply for SP21 matriculation is November 1st 2020. The priority deadline to apply for FA21 matriculation is March 1st 2021.

Application Process

The application process has two parts.

First, apply to the University. To do so, submit the following:

1. a Cal State Apply application
2. all official transcripts to Enrollment Services

Second, apply to the Department. To do so, submit the following:

3. a copy of your Cal State Apply application
4. a curriculum vita or résumé
5. a statement of purpose
6. a writing sample
7. a minimum of two letters of recommendation

These latter five items should just be e-mailed as .pdf attachments to the Director of the Graduate Program, Prof. Cory Wright. (Do not send physical paper copies by post.)


Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Students are highly encouraged to submit a FAFSA application at their earliest convenience by or before the priority deadline. Normally, the priority deadline is on or around March 1st for the following academic year. FAFSA eligibility is important and necessary when applying for a variety of fellowships, research assistantships, and federal work/study positions. For additional information, visit the program’s funding page or the university’s Office of Financial Aid.

For the last half decade, Cal State Long Beach has been receiving >100,000 applications for each academic year (e.g., see here and here). Processing all of these transcripts takes an enormous amount of time. Consequently, applicants should strive to have their transcripts sent and received as quickly as possible, and to complete the first part of the application process as early as possible.

Letters of recommendation should be e-mailed directly from the letter writer using his or her university account to the Graduate Advisor. Whenever possible, letters should be properly signed, and composed on university or official letterhead. Letters of recommendation are securely held in strict confidence per university regulations. By default, students are assumed to have waived their rights to access.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
The Department does not require the GRE for admission. Applicants may submit their scores at their discretion, however, and stronger scores may help students secure admission and funding. (The ETS institution code for Cal State Long Beach is 4389, and the sub-code for Philosophy is 2804.)

Vitae, Statements, Writing Samples
Curriculum vitae vary widely in style and formatting, but allow students to provide additional information about their academic experiences. Statements of purpose are approximately one to two pages (500–1000 words). We are keen to hear why you want to study Philosophy at the graduate level, what you want to study in particular, and with whom. Writing samples vary in length, but are typically at least 12–15 pages. Preferably, one's writing sample should relate to philosophical issues and arguments; ultimately, though, the department wants to see the work that best represents the applicant's skills in composition, analysis, argumentation, and scholarship.

Admissions and Entrance Requirements

General Considerations
Applicants must, in addition to satisfying the University requirements, have an academic background that provides evidence of philosophical promise in order to be admitted. Such evidence may include strong GRE scores, a significantly high GPA over the last two years, advanced or honors coursework, or demonstration of research abilities or scholarly commitment. Applicants need not have majored in Philosophy; indeed, high quality students from various backgrounds are encouraged to apply. However, admission is competitive, and each applicant is evaluated on the merits of her or his own application. In some cases, the Department may recommend or require additional coursework in Philosophy prior to advancement to candidacy.

Conditionally Classified and Classified Status
All admitted students enter the program with conditionally classified status, and must enroll in the Department’s proseminar in the first semester in which it is offered. Normally, students achieve classified status upon satisfying two conditions: passing the proseminar, and passing the basic qualifying exam.

Area/Unit Deficiencies
Many applicants have a prior program of study that includes more than 15 units of upper-division Philosophy courses. Applicants whose records and transcripts to date do not demonstrate this amount of upper-division coursework may still be admitted if their records evince a high level of academic performance. Such applicants may still have some deficiencies in their background knowledge of Philosophy, however. Typically, these are one of two sorts: (1) unit deficiencies, or (2) area deficiencies. Applicants have unit deficiencies if the number of units in Philosophy is insufficient to succeed in the program. Applicants have area deficiencies if they have not yet demonstrated proficiency in a diverse range of core areas, such as coursework covering the logical, theoretical, practical, or historical areas of philosophy. (A grade of ‘B’ earned in an upper-division course is sufficient for such demonstration.) Courses taken to rectify a deficiency do not count toward the minimum unit requirement for the MA degree. Students who anticipate being admitted with deficiencies should contact the Graduate Advisor early in the admissions process and upon beginning the MA program in order to plan their program of study.