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PhD in Philosophy

The graduate program has been innovative since its beginning. We have always placed an emphasis on interdisciplinary research and the acquisition of skills needed to work with texts in foreign languages, and students are required to develop a broad knowledge of the history of philosophy. There is also an important teaching skills component. Other new directions in the study of philosophy initiated by the department include the availability of Graduate Certificates attesting to a student's intensive course work and qualifying the student to teach at the interface of a related discipline. Currently, the department is affiliated with Graduate Certificate Programs in Cultural Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies.

The purpose of the Doctoral Program is to prepare students for independent research and scholarship in the field, and to help them develop the necessary intellectual and pedagogical skills for teaching philosophy. The requirements and review processes are designed so that all seminar and non-seminar work will be completed by the end of the third year, leaving the fourth year for dissertation research and writing.

The Program includes seminars from these categories: History of Philosophy, Interface Studies, and Contemporary Philosophy. Each student then selects additional seminars in one category to form a concentration. In addition to twelve seminars (36 credits), there is a Teaching Practicum (3 credits) and several non-seminar units: logic and language requirements, two research papers, a History of Philosophy Exam, and a Prospectus Program. Here is a summary of the progress anticipated each year:


First Year

Second Year

Third Year

3 Seminars each Term 2 Seminars each Term 1 Seminar Each Term
1 Non-Seminar Unit History of Philosophy Exam Remaining Non-Seminar Unit
  Teaching Practicum Prospectus Program
  2 Additional Non-Seminar Units  


The department conducts its pedagogical training through the Teaching Practicum and the courses taught by graduate students which form an integral part of the undergraduate curriculum of the College of Arts and Sciences. Many doctoral students in the department have won Stony Brook's President's Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student, and we are proud of the outstanding reputation our doctoral students have earned as undergraduate teachers. Currently, there are over sixty graduate students enrolled in the Doctoral Program, many from other countries including, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Sweden and and from a wide range of liberal arts colleges and universities in the United States. A significant number participate in conferences and publish articles in philosophy journals prior to the completion of their doctoral degrees.

Considering applying? Click on  Admissions for more detailed information.

More questions? Contact the Graduate Program Director for the Philosophy Department, Anne O'Byrne, at (631) 632-7590.