The graduate program in philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder is designed to provide students with a broad and intensive training in philosophy. It focuses on the careful philosophical development and professional preparation of its students. The department is also one of a few elite programs in the country that balance strength in contemporary philosophy with a serious interest in the history of philosophy, with faculty spanning the whole history of Western thought, from Plato and Aristotle, through the middle ages, to Kant and his successors. In the 2014-2015 Philosophical Gourmet Report, the department was ranked #31 among PhD programs in the United States.
The graduate program contains separate tracks for MA and PhD students. The MA program is intended for students who wish to explore advanced study in philosophy in a two-year graduate program, which will prepare students for further study at the doctoral level. The MA program intends to provide students with a solid foundation in all the core areas of philosophy, together with a thorough grounding in the history of philosophy, in preparation for more advanced and specialized work at the doctoral level; to provide philosophical training for those who intend to go on to work in interdisciplinary areas bordering with philosophy, such as cognitive science or applied ethics and public policy; to provide an opportunity for those who wish to explore more advanced study of philosophy for personal enrichment and satisfaction; and to provide the education needed for teaching philosophy at the secondary school level or at a community college. The department offers MA students not only an outstanding education in philosophy, but also all the benefits of being in a large, active and collegial department, with numerous colloquia, conferences, workshops and reading groups in many areas of philosophy.
The PhD program is intended for those who aspire to a career of teaching and research at the college or university level, and has good success placing PhD students. Recent graduates have received tenuretrack jobs at both leading research universities and smaller colleges, and it has been rare for a graduate not to receive any offers (tenure-track or temporary) at all. Graduates have also gone on to successful professional careers outside academia.
The department’s Center for Values and Social Policy engages in research and sponsors lectures, conferences and programs. Convinced that philosophy can make important contributions to ongoing debates about issues and public policy, the center’s activities bring the methods and insights of philosophy to bear on critical issues of public concern. Quality of life, environmental ethics, energy policies and human rights are among the topics of interest.
Every week, there are numerous events sponsored by the department, including talks in the department colloquium series, lunchtime talks hosted by the Center for Values and Social Policy, talks hosted by the Center for History and Philosophy of Science, as well as talks in the WorksInProgress series. In addition, there are numerous reading groups organized informally by faculty and graduate students on topics of common interest, ranging from Kierkegaard and nonconceptual content, to philosophical works in Latin and Greek.
The Rocky Mountain Graduate Student Philosophy Conference is an opensubmission conference held each spring, run by graduate students in the department. It is one of the longest running graduate student conferences in the country. Student organizers gain valuable experience not only in running a conference, but they also develop connections with fellow PhD students across the country.
The department also sponsors the Morris Colloquium, which is a multiday conference that has focused on topics such as human rights, environmental ethics, human nature, philosophy and film, human cloning, consumerism, global justice and balancing liberty with security (in the wake of the Patriot Act).
Each year, the department is home to the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress, an international conference geared to offer the highest quality, highest altitude discussion of ethics, broadly conceived.