Who to get letters from for grad school applications?




In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, a reader asks:

I’m a student preparing to apply to PhD programs in philosophy. Many programs specify that they want letters of recommendation from philosophers. My question is: for the purpose of recommendation letters, who counts as a “philosopher”?

Does “philosopher” solely supervene over individuals with PhDs in philosophy? Would individuals with PhDs in, say, Ethics or Theology qualify? Does it matter if an individual with a PhD in these philosophy-adjacent fields teaches in a philosophy department, or publishes in philosophy journals? Or is this too far into the weeds, and students should ask the faculty most acquainted with their work and research capabilities to serve as recommenders?

Good questions. I’m not 100% sure, but I expect that admissions committees at philosophy PhD programs will want letters from people with philosophy PhDs who are able to comment in a well-informed manner on one’s philosophical abilities and work. Although people in philosophy-adjacent fields (such as Theology) may be able to write on an applicant’s general academic abilities and ability to put together well-reasoned work, my guess is that people on philosophy PhD admissions committees will be more likely to trust the judgment of someone who has a PhD and publishes in the field.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More



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