Degree Requirements for the Ph.D. Program
1. All Ph.D. students are required to take 48 hours of course work (16 courses) or, if entering with an M.A. in philosophy, 30 hours of course work (10 courses).
- These courses must include nine courses in the four major areas of the history of philosophy:
a. Ancient Philosophy: two courses
b. Medieval Philosophy: two courses.
c. Modern Philosophy: two courses.
d. Contemporary Philosophy: three courses, one in “analytic” philosophy, one in “continental” philosophy, and one in an area of contemporary philosophy other than analytic or continental philosophy, e.g., American philosophy or contemporary Thomism or feminist philosophy.
2. Students must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.5 in course work.
- Students should consult with their academic advisors and must obtain the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies in selecting the courses that will satisfy these requirements. Students are encouraged to diversify the figures and trends studied in fulfillment of the requirements. Each semester the Director of Graduate Studies will identify those courses satisfying each of these requirements.
- Students entering with an M.A. will have their graduate transcripts evaluated by the Director of Graduate Studies in order to determine which of these course requirements have already been satisfied at the graduate level.
- No more than three 5000-level courses may be taken toward the satisfaction of the 48-credit requirement for the Ph.D. Students entering with an M.A. must take all their courses at the 6000-level or above.
- In addition, all students must take the course "Proseminar: Philosophical Research and Writing" in their first semester, and all students interested in teaching in the department or required to teach by the terms of their financial aid awards must take the course "Seminar in Philosophical Education" in their fourth semester (second semester for students entering with an M.A.). While these courses carry credit, the credits earned therein do not count toward the satisfaction of the 48-hour requirement. These courses are typically taken as a fourth course.
3. All Ph.D. students must demonstrate, either in course work or by departmental exam, a reading knowledge of two languages other than English, normally French and German, though substitutions (e.g., Greek or Latin) may be approved in light of a student's research needs. The courses satisfying the language requirement are FREN 5090 (French) or GERM 5002 (German), or above.
4. All Ph.D. students must demonstrate, either in course work or by departmental exam, an understanding of the elements of symbolic logic. The course satisfying the logic requirement is PHIL 5100. For more information regarding the departmental logic exam, click here.
N.B. The following four requirements have time limits for completion. Students who fail to maintain satisfactory progress toward the degree as defined by this schedule are at risk of probation and loss of financial aid.
5. All Ph.D. students must submit two qualifying papers of publishable quality dealing with two different thematic areas (including at least one paper in metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics). A paper will be deemed publishable just in case a reader judges that it is worthy of submission to a professional journal (click here to see the kinds of questions readers have in mind when evaluating papers). The qualifying papers must contain a minimum of 5000 words and must not exceed 7500 words.
- The papers are to be prepared for blind reviewing, and must include a word count on the first page of the paper. Each paper will be read by a board of two readers chosen by the Director of Graduate Studies. Students must receive a grade of at least High Pass from both readers on each paper. A paper will be graded High Pass just in case it is of publishable quality as defined above. Each reader will prepare a statement regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the paper and, if necessary, of what needs to be done to improve the paper so that it is of publishable quality.
- If one reader assigns a grade of High Pass (or higher) and the other assigns a grade lower than High Pass, a third reader will be assigned, and the student must receive a grade of High Pass (or higher) from the third reader. Students receiving an overall grade below High Pass on one or both papers will receive the readers’ statements regarding their papers. Students receiving an overall grade below High Pass on one or both papers may resubmit a revision of that paper only once for reevaluation.
- Students receiving a grade below High Pass on any resubmitted paper will not be allowed to continue in the program. If both papers have earned a grade of at least Pass, the student will receive a terminal M.A. degree.
- This requirement must be completed by the end of the fourth semester (second semester for students entering with an M.A. in philosophy). This does not mean merely that the papers must be submitted by that time. Hence, students should plan accordingly and allow themselves time to revise their submitted papers and have them evaluated before the end of the fourth term. Students are strongly encouraged to have one paper completed in the first year or certainly no later than the fall semester of the second year. Students wishing to have the review of qualifying paper completed by the end of a fall semester must submit the paper by October 15 and students wishing to have the review of a qualifying paper completed by the end of a spring semester must submit the paper by March 15.
6. All Ph.D. students must develop a comprehensive reading list tied to the student's dissertation research area broadly construed. The reading list is to be developed in consultation with the area reading list committee comprising the student's chosen mentor and two examiners appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the mentor, and the list must be approved by the area reading list committee and by the chair of the department (or, if designated by the chair, the Director of Graduate Studies). The student is responsible for having a Reading List Approval Form signed, once the reading list is approved, by all the members of the committee and by the chair (or, if designated, the Director of Graduate Studies).
7. All Ph.D. students must pass an oral comprehensive examination based on the reading list.
- The reading list must be both substantial and manageable.It should have three areas: essential primary and secondary works in the dissertation research area plus relevant works in two others areas. The three areas should include either (a) one historical period (i.e., ancient, medieval, or modern) and two contemporary approaches (i.e., analytic, continental, or some other contemporary approach such as American philosophy, contemporary Thomism, or feminist philosophy) or (b) two historical periods and one contemporary approach.
- A list is "substantial" insofar as it includes readings that present major alternative positions that characterize the research area. The list should be ordered toward the area rather than some problem or topic within an area of philosophy. In this way, the area reading list is distinct from a dissertation bibliography.
- A list is "manageable" insofar as it limits itself to the most important representatives of the alternative positions within the area. It might be the case, for example, that a work would be included in a dissertation bibliography because it was an important commentary on a work that had originally stated an alternative for that field, even though the commentary does not delineate an alternative position. But such a work would not be included in the area bibliography.
- Students must gain approval from the reading list committee by the end of their fifth semester (third semester for students who enter with an M.A. in philosophy).
- There is no presumption that the reading list committee will become the committee to examine the student's dissertation proposal.
8. All Ph.D. students must obtain approval of a dissertation proposal; topics for dissertation are approved upon the student's successful defense of a proposal before a panel of four faculty members. The dissertation proposal will normally by defended by the end of the eighth semester (sixth semester for students who enter with an M.A. in philosophy). A date for the dissertation proposal defense must be set by October 15 for a defense in the fall semester and by March 15 for a defense in the spring semester. This will qualify a student to complete the requirement in that semester even if scheduling conflicts dictate that the defense by moved into the early part of the following semester. It is strongly recommended that students work to set a date with their committee as early as possible in the semester (for the fall, in September, and for the spring, in January) so that the date can be set before faculty calendars are filled.
- The oral exam will be administered by the area reading list committee that approved by reading list. After the exam each member of the committee will write a report detailing the reasons for the grade he or she assigns. These reports must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies within three days of the examination.
- Students must earn a grade of at least High Pass on the exam by earning a grade of High Pass or higher from at least two of the examiners. No student receiving a grade of Fail from any examiner can achieve an overall grade of High Pass for an exam. Students may retake this examination no more than once, and a retake must be completed in the semester following the original examination.
- Students must sit for their area reading list exam by the end of the seventh semester (fifth semester for students who enter with an M.A. in philosophy). A date for the oral examination must be set by October 15 for an examination to occur in the fall semester, and a date for a retake (if necessary) must be set by March 15 for an examination to occur in the spring semester. This will qualify a student to complete the requirement in that semester even if scheduling conflicts dictate that the examination be moved into the early part of the following semester. It is strongly recommended that students work to set a date with their committee as early as possible in the semester (for the fall, in September, and for the spring, in January) so that the date can be set before faculty calendars are filled.
9. All Ph.D. students must complete a dissertation (normally of no more than 350 pages).
10. All Ph.D. students must publicly defend the dissertation before a panel of five faculty members, which includes the mentor and two readers and two examiners. A date for the dissertation defense must be set by October 15 for a defense to occur in the fall semester and by March 15 for a defense to occur in the spring semester. Students should remember that the GSAS will not guarantee May graduation for students defending their dissertations after April 15. After the defense and after all corrections are made to the dissertation, the student must submit an electronic copy to the GSAS; any student wishing a hard copy stored in the departmental library must arrange for the submission of an appropriately bound and formatted hard copy. For more information regarding the dissertation stage, please see the "Departmental Guidelines for the Dissertation Proposal, the Dissertation, and the Dissertation Defense."
Click here to see a chart with the typical requirements distribution for PhD students entering without an M.A.
Click here to see a chart with the typical requirements districution for PhD students entering with an M.A.
(By agreement with the medieval studies program, a special qualifying examination must be taken by doctoral students enrolled in that program).