PhD Requirements

Distribution/Course Work Requirements

Logic requirement

Each student must demonstrate proficiency in logic by successfully completing the graduate seminar PHIL 2500 (Advanced Logic) or a more advanced graduate seminar in logic.

Language Requirement

Each student must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one of the following languages: ancient Greek, Latin, French, or German. Proficiency is demonstrated by passing a departmental language exam or by completing course work in the language of choice.

Proseminar Requirement

Each student must enroll in the two-term Proseminar sequence in his or her first year. The fall term Proseminar, open only to philosophy first-years, aims to introduce students to graduate work in philosophy by way of reading and writing about core texts. The spring term Proseminar, open to philosophy first-years as well as to qualified students from outside the department, shares this aim. Each year one Proseminar will address topics in metaphysics and epistemology, and the other will address topics in ethics.

Area and History Requirements

Each student must successfully complete a graduate seminar in each of the following areas: (i) metaphysics and epistemology, (ii) ethics, (iii) philosophy of science. Area requirements (i) and (ii) are typically satisfied by completing the Proseminar sequence. Each student must also complete three graduate seminars in the history of philosophy, including at least one in ancient philosophy and at least one modern/19th century philosophy. No two of these seminars can cover the same historical figure. (For the purposes of this requirement, any philosopher whose major work was mostly completed by the middle of the 20th century counts as historical.)

Course-Number Requirement

Each student must successfully complete at least 12 graduate seminars in philosophy or closely related fields.

Dissertation Requirements

Comprehensive Evaluation and Examination

Each student is expected to satisfy the logic requirement and complete 10 graduate seminars, including all but at most one of the seminars needed to satisfy the area and history requirements, By the start of the fifth term, at which point he or she is comprehensively evaluated, first with regard to actual satisfaction of requirements, and then with regard to demonstrated ability and philosophical promise. The materials reviewed include a dossier consisting of three papers submitted by the student for graduate seminars taken while in residence, along with any available instructors’ comments on that work.  Once the comprehensive evaluation takes place, the student proposes a topic for his or her comprehensive examination paper and is assigned a committee to oversee both the writing and the examination of this paper, which should take place by the end of the seventh term. Once the comprehensive examination is passed, the student may form a and submit a prospectus for approval.

Prospectus and Dissertation

The prospectus document is a short (no more than 5 page) description of a proposed dissertation topic. It is normally written by the start of the student's eighth term of residence and under the guidance of a faculty advisor or advisors, in consultation with whom the student assembles a dissertation committee. Such a committee consists of a director and second reader, drawn from the primary faculty of the department. The director and second reader have principal responsibility for supervising the dissertation project. A dissertation committee has at least two other members, one of whom (the outside reader) is not a primary member of the department. At the prospectus meeting, the dissertation committee meets with the student to discuss the project proposed in the prospectus document. Should the committee approve the project, the student’s next task is to write a dissertation under the committee’s direction. The dissertation may not exceed 250 pages (of main text) in length. Upon its completion, the student must pass a final oral exam conducted by the committee.

General Requirements

Teaching Requirement

Each student must teach or TA for at least two different courses offered through the department.

Residence Requirement

The University requires a minimum of 24 courses for the PhD degree. At least 12 of these are needed to satisfy the distribution/course work requirements detailed above; the remainder will typically take the form of repeated registration for PHIL 3000 (dissertation research).

Course Enrollment Requirement

Students are required to maintain full-time status, that is, to be registered for at least three courses during each semester of the regular academic year. During semesters in which a student neither teaches nor pursues dissertation work, he or she must register for at least four courses.