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 591 Embryo Project
  • BIO 591 Embryo Project Editing
  • BIO 598 Big Data in Context: Ethics, Policy, History and Philosophy
  • HPS 598 Advanced History of Science
Philosophy of science (6 credit hours)
  • BIO 598 Advanced Philosophy of Science
  • BIO/HPS/PHI 598 Philosophy of Biology and Medicine Advanced
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 598 Advanced Bioethics
  • BIO 598 Big Data in Context: Ethics, Policy, History and Philosophy 
  • 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
  • PHI 521 Bioethics
  • PHI 591 Human Well-Being and Sustainability
  • POP 633 Population Health Ethics
Advanced logic or other advanced methods (3 credit hours)
  • BIO 532 Recent Papers in Discipline-Based Education Research
  • BIO 591 ESSA Reading and Reflection
  • BIO 591 Innovations of Conservation Lab
  • BIO 591 Papers in Inclusive Teaching in College
  • BIO 598 Biology Education Research
  • BIO 598 STS Reading Group
  • BIO 791 Science Education Research Seminar
  • HSD 601 HSD I: Human Dimensions of Science and Technology
  • PHI 570 Higher Order Modal Logic
Approved courses in philosophy, history or life sciences (9 credit hours)

These courses provide expertise in your individual research area. Any courses offered under one of the prefixes BIO, ELS, EVO, HPS, MCB, MIC, and PLB, or any courses taught by biology and society graduate faculty members fulfill the requirement.

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)
  • Restricted electives (30 credit hours)
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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