PHD History and Philosophy of Science

Program Description

Degree Awarded: PHD History and Philosophy of Science

In the history and philosophy of science PhD program, you’ll receive foundational training in philosophy, history and the study of science —all together in one, innovative degree.

This program emphasizes interdisciplinary studies of the sciences and their conceptual structure, epistemology, history and impacts on society. You’ll be learning from the very best at ASU – award-winning faculty who are recognized locally, nationally and internationally for excellence in their fields.

Our students can participate in an intensive summer school experience at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts as part of the ASU-MBL History of Biology Seminar. Or, you can help bring big data to bear on history and philosophy of science questions as part of the Digital Innovation Group.

Applicants typically come from undergraduate programs that have included some philosophical, historical, or life science training, or with a master's degree in one of these fields. Our students have an outstanding record in national fellowship competitions including the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship program, USAID Fellowship Programs, and Ford Foundation Fellowships.

Most of our graduates seek careers based in philosophical or historical analyses of the sciences including research and administrative careers in higher education, science communication and other areas related to the life sciences.

History and Philosophy of Science (PhD) Faculty

Courses and electives

Some options for elective study, listed by focus
History of science (6 credit hours)
  • BIO 518/HPS 516 History of Biology
  • BIO 591 Embryo Project
  • HPS 511 History of Science
Philosophy of science (6 credit hours)
  • BIO/HPS/PHI 598 Philosophy of Biology and Medicine Advanced
  • HPS 512 Philosophy of Science
  • HPS 591 Human Well-Being and Sustainability
History of philosophy (3 credit hours)
  • HPS 591 Carnap and Quine
  • PHI 581 Studies in Ancient Greek Philosophy
Value theory (3 credit hours)
  • BIO 516 Foundations of Bioethics
  • BIO 527 Environmental Ethics and Policy Goals
  • BIO 610 Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) in Life Sciences
  • BIO 611 Current Topics in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) in Life Sciences
Advanced logic or other advanced methods (3 credit hours)
  • HPS 598 Studying Science: Theory and Methodology
  • PHI 525 Rational Choice
  • PHI 532 Experimental Philosophy
  • PHI 556 Advanced Symbolic Logic
  • PHI 565 Probabilism
Approved courses in philosophy, history or life sciences (9 credit hours)
  • BIO 522 Populations: Evolutionary Ecology
  • BIO 530 Scientific Teaching
  • BIO 570 Fundamentals of CAS (Complex Adaptive Systems) Science
  • BIO 591 Embryo Project Editing Seminar
  • BIO 591 Embryo Project Illustration
  • HPS 520 Masters of Nonfiction
  • HPS 591 Literary Nonfiction

At a Glance: program details

Degree Requirements

Required Core (6 credit hours)
  • HPS 615 Biology and Society Lab (This course is required 3 times during duration of study)
  • HPS 620 Research Prospectus Writing (3)
Electives (30-54 credit hours)
  • See below for examples of courses in focus areas
Research (12 credit hours)
  • HPS 792 Research (12)
Dissertation (12 credit hours)
  • HPS 799 Dissertation (12)
Additional Curriculum Information

An individual student program is developed in consultation with the student's advisor and committee.

HPS 615 Biology and Society Lab is a one credit hour course focused on student presentations of works-in-progress. Students must register for it three times during their graduate study.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited institution of recognized standing in a related field such as history, philosophy, or history and philosophy of science as well as a demonstrated background and interest in one or more sciences.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts 
  3. academic record form
  4. personal statement
  5. curriculum vitae or resume
  6. writing sample
  7. three letters of recommendation
  8. proof of English proficiency (if applicable)

Application Deadline

  • Applications are accepted between the open date, September 1st and close date, December 1st for consideration for the following August
Application deadline
  • The History and Philosophy of Science PhD program admits one group of students annually to start their program the following August
  • There is no guarantee that applications received after December 1st will be reviewed
  • In January, the top applicants will be invited to a recruitment event scheduled in mid-to-late February 
  • You'll be notified of your admissions status by April 15th
  • Review tips for applying
Desired Qualifications
  • Research experience
  • International students: TOEFL score of 100, or IELTS score of 6.5

To apply, follow the Apply Now link.

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Program Contact Information

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