Graduate Program Overview

The graduate program in the Philosophy Department offers a wide range of courses in various traditions of philosophy, with strengths and a well-established reputation in the history of philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of art, as well as other central topics. The Department offers combined programs with the Classics and Psychology Departments.

Overview of Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree


In the first two years all students must complete a total of twelve term courses. The First Year Seminar, Philosophy 705a, must be taken by all students in their first year.  Graduate courses are grouped as follows:

(1) metaphysics, theory of knowledge, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of science.

(2) ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of religion, political philosophy, philosophy of law, and theory of value.

(3) history of philosophy.

No more than six of the twelve and no fewer than two courses may be taken in each group.

At least one of the twelve courses taken must be logic (unless the logic requirement is satisfied in some other way) and this course does not count towards the required minimum of two within any of the three categories.

Qualifying Paper:

Two qualifying papers must be submitted, one in the history of philosophy, and the other in another distribution area. One qualifying paper would normally be submitted at the end of the fourth semester, and the other at the beginning of the fifth semester.

Skills requirement:

Before the dissertation defense students must take at least one class that is not listed in Philosophy on a subject that is relevant to their research. The class should be selected in consultation with the committee and must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. This requirement cannot be waved for work done before starting the PhD program.


Students in Philosophy will teach in the third and fourth (and possibly sixth) years. They must have teaching experience in at least two distribution areas.

Admission to Candidacy and Dissertation:

Approval of the dissertation prospectus is expected by the end of the sixth term. Upon completion of all predissertation requirements, including the prospectus, students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. Admission candidacy, which must take place by the end of the third year of study. The norm for completion of the Ph.D. degree is five to six years.

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