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PhD Requirements

The doctoral program is designed to be completed in four years of full-time work. The Graduate School regulations prescribe a minimum of two semesters of full-time enrollment. In addition to the minimum degree requirements of the Graduate School, the following are required:

A. Seminars

Seminar coursework will be required from the three following areas: history of philosophy, interface studies, and contemporary philosophy. Each of the three areas has a minimum number of required courses. The student will also take at least two additional seminars in one of the three areas to fulfill the concentration of studies requirement.

  1. Three seminars in the history of philosophy from among four groups of courses concentrating on ancient philosophy, medieval and/or Renaissance philosophy, modern philosophy and 19th-century philosophy. These courses will feature an intensive writing component. For those students wising to pursue a concentration of studies in the history of philosophy, a minimum of two additional courses may be taken from these areas or from seminar studies directed to special topics in the history of philosophy (which draw upon specific authors, texts, themes, or problems from the history of philosophy).
  2. Two interface seminars in interdisciplinary areas between philosophy and another discipline pertaining to the natural sciences, to the social sciences, or to the humanities. The requirement may be satisfied by taking two seminars within the department that focus on an interdisciplinary area or by taking one seminar in the department that focuses on an interdisciplinary area and one course in another discipline. Two additional departmental seminars from this category may be taken to fulfill concentration requirements.
  3. Five seminars in contemporary philosophy. Two seminars in the preeminent styles or modes of philosophy are required: one in continental philosophy (PHI 630), and one in analytic philosophy (PHI 631). These seminars will explore the methods, presuppositions, and operational modes of the contemporary philosophy involved. Three additional seminars, chosen from a list of subjects, must be taken to fulfill the basic requirement. Two more seminars from the contemporary category may be taken to fulfill concentration requirements.
  4. A practicum in the teaching of philosophy. This involves a supervised teaching seminar, along with additional teaching experience in the undergraduate program.
  5. An overall average grade of B or better is required, with no more than six credits of C grades counting toward the degree.

b. General Requirements

  1. The student must pass an examination in the history of philosophy. The exam is offered twice yearly in January and May. Although the student may take the exam any number of times prior to the deadline, the examination must be passed by the end of the second year. The history of philosophy examination is constructed and assessed by the faculty of the History of Philosophy Committee.
  2. Style Essay: The student must submit an essay, judged acceptable by a committee, in any area of philosophy.
  3. Interface Essay: The student must submit an essay, judged acceptable by a committee composed of at least one Philosophy faculty member and a faculty member from the relevant second discipline, in one area of interface studies.
  4. General reviews of student progress based upon a portfolio (courses taken, courses completed, grades, sample papers, and performance in the above general requirements) will be undertaken at the end of the first and third years. The second year review will take place in early summer, after the deadline for passing the May sitting of the history of philosophy examination; this review is the milestone requirement of the program. These reviews will assess the progress of students and determine qualifications for continuance or noncontinuance in the program.
  5. The student must participate in the Prospectus Program in preparing for the dissertation proposal defense.

C. Ph.D. Candidacy

Official Ph.D. candidacy is attained when, in addition to the requirements listed above, a student fulfills the following competency requirements:

  1. Competence in symbolic logic. Sufficient knowledge of concepts and notations of first-order logic for understanding and applying them to problems in philosophy. A grade of B or better in a undergraduate symbolic logic course is normally adequate evidence of competence.
  2. Competence in a foreign language. This is shown by translating a previously untranslated philosophical article (or the equivalent)  or by writing a research paper including a translation of substantial philosophical passages.
  3. Competence to undertake a dissertation project. This is shown by (a) a prospectus (10-15 pages) outlining projected study, expected findings, and relevant arguments and evidence (e.g., bibliography), and (b) an oral defense of the projected study before a faculty examining committee. Upon the recommendation of the examining committee and the dissertation project be initiated, the student becomes a candidate for the Ph.D.

D. Dissertation

After advancement to candidacy, the student will concentrate on a dissertation (the written results of specialized study and research) under the supervision of a dissertation committee. After the dissertation is completed, it is read by a committee of four members, consisting of the director, one or two other members of the philosophy faculty, and one or two faculty members from outside the department who have specialized in related areas. Before final approval can be granted, the student must present the results of the dissertation research at an oral examination convened for that purpose by the department and open to interested faculty members and graduate students. If the dissertation defense is successful, the candidate is recommended to the University for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

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