PhD in Philosophy
Field of Concentration
Candidates plan their own programs in consultation with their major professors.
Post-bachelor’s PhD candidates must take a minimum of 16 graduate-accredited semester courses, of which at least 12 (44 credits) must be in philosophy, including at least four at the 800 or 900 level.
Post-master’s PhD candidates are required to take eight graduate-accredited semester courses (32 credits), of which at least five (20 credits) must be in philosophy, including at least three at the 800 or 900 level.
Note, however, that no more than three directed studies may be taken toward course requirements.
By the end of the third year of graduate study, every graduate student must demonstrate a high level of proficiency in at least one language other than English. The language should be French, German, Greek, or Latin. If the student’s native language is French or German the requirement may be waived at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies. Any language other than English may fulfill the requirement if (a) it is needed for dissertation work and (b) approval is granted by the Director of Graduate Studies. Competence may be demonstrated by passing an examination administered by the department, by achieving a B+ or higher in an approved intermediate course (normally a translation course) administered by another department and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, or by passing the Graduate School Foreign Language test with a score of at least 600. Candidates are strongly advised to satisfy the language requirement as early as possible. Language courses offered at the graduate level will be given graduate credit. Two such courses may count toward the coursework requirement of 16 courses.
Students must possess a good reading knowledge of any language that is important for their dissertation work (e.g., students writing a dissertation on Plato must at least satisfy the requirements of an intermediate Greek course, with the expectation that the study of the language will be an ongoing activity). A dissertation proposal will not be approved until the relevant mastery has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the dissertation director. The director will have the discretion of accepting a B+ or higher in a relevant language course as evidence of competence; or adequate performance on a translation examination; or any reasonable means of determining competence.
The candidate must demonstrate competence in logic by passing a designated logic course with a B+ or higher, or by passing a logic examination administered by the department.
Before proposing a dissertation topic, the student must qualify for dissertation work, as follows. At some point after their first year of study, and before they submit a Prospectus of their dissertation, all PhD students must submit two qualifying papers that will be examined by a committee of two professors. These papers must be substantial pieces of philosophical work, demonstrating a strong knowledge of the relevant topic and a good deal of original thought. The papers may (but need not) be derived from papers originally written for course credit. It should not be assumed that a paper that receives an “A” in a course will be of sufficient quality. The papers must be “self-standing” works. In other words, each must be intelligible to philosophers other than those who may have participated in a seminar on the topic of the paper. The papers must be on topics in substantially different areas of philosophy; for example, it is not acceptable to submit two metaphysics papers, or two papers on ancient figures, or two papers in ethics. The Director of Graduate Studies will determine what qualifies as a “substantially different” area of philosophy. Papers should not be longer than 35 double-spaced pages (12-pt font).
The examining committee will be appointed by the Chair of the department in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Before consulting with the Chair, the Director of Graduate Studies will meet with the student for whom the committee is being formed.
Students must communicate to the Director of Graduate Studies in writing their intention to submit the qualifying papers within the first two weeks of either semester. They must then submit the papers within the first eight weeks of the semester. The committee will deliver its evaluation and a written report on the papers within three weeks of their submission. Papers will receive one of two grades: “pass” or “not-pass.” If a paper does not pass, the committee will offer one of two directives: either to revise the paper based on comments contained within the report, or to submit an entirely new paper. The committee may request a meeting with the student. Students will have three opportunities to submit each paper.
Dissertation Prospectus and Dissertation
After the candidate has passed the qualifying examination and has met the language and logic requirements, a dissertation prospectus must be submitted to the major professor, who will arrange for a preliminary oral conference on the proposal.
Upon satisfactory completion of the dissertation, the candidate will present it for defense in a final oral examination. (See General Requirements for the PhD for more information on the final oral examination.)
Get more details and a copy of the department’s Regulae from our department site.