PhD Program

Requirements for the PhD

  1. A minimum of 45 credits with the following distribution:
    • Completion of the Ethics, Epistemology, and Metaphysics Proseminars
    • Three courses in the history of philosophy, including one from Ancient, Medieval, or Renaissance Philosophy and one from Modern Philosophy.  An appropriately historical course in 20th century philosophy may be counted as well. 
    • One course at least in a systematic normative area of philosophy, one in a non-normative area. These courses must be taken at the 500+ level. 
    • Satisfaction of the Logic Requirement, either by completing Intermediate Logic (551) with a grade of B or higher, or passing a test administered by the Department.
    • No more than 1/5 of credits earned towards the degree may be from courses below the 500 level, and courses below the 350 level may not count for graduate credit.
  2. Further, to earn a PhD, a student must successfully defend a doctoral dissertation.
  3. Language proficiency may also be required depending upon the area of concentration of the student's dissertation.

Timeline for the PHD Program

Year One
  • Complete two Proseminars (Ethics, Epistemology, and Metaphysics are taught on rotation), PHIL 378 (unless you are exempt from the logic requirement), and three courses of your choice.
  • Serve as a Grader for an introductory philosophy course of 65 students each semester, spending approximately 15 hours per week on grading and office hours.
  • Participate in the First Year Seminar, an informal seminar where you will learn about the department’s expectations for graduate students and how to navigate life as a grad student.
Year Two
  • Complete the third and final Proseminar and five courses of your choice.
  • Serve as a Teaching Assistant for a large introductory course each semester. You will be responsible for leading two weekly discussion sections of approximately 20 students each, grading your students’ papers, holding office hours, and other duties as assigned.
Year Three
  • Complete your final three courses. 
  • T.A. responsibilities resemble those of second-year students, with the additional possibility of serving as a TA for Political and Social Thought, the introductory philosophy course for students in the School of Foreign Service. (One applies for this position during the second year in the program. Three students are chosen each year. The position comes with summer preparation and a summer stipend.)
  • Participate in the Third Year Seminar, where you will begin to think about your dissertation proposal with fellow third-year students, the leader of the seminar, and perhaps with other faculty.
  • Begin the CNDLS Apprenticeship in Teaching Program.
Year Four and beyond
  • Assemble your committee, defend your dissertation proposal, and begin dissertation writing in earnest.
  • Serve as a Teaching Associate: you will design and teach one bridge course course of 30 students each semester. You may also have opportunities to request to serve as a Teaching Assistant for a large introductory class, apply for an external dissertation fellowship, or serve the department in other capacities.
  • Complete the CNDLS Apprenticeship in Teaching Program.
  • Write, revise, repeat until you are ready to defend your dissertation. Defend and get your PhD.
  • When your dissertation is realistically within one year of completion, begin working in earnest with the Placement Committee on applying for positions in Philosophy.