PhD Program

Requirements for the PhD

In order to be admitted to candidacy for the PhD, students complete the following requirements within six (6) semesters from beginning the PhD program.

  1. Earn 45 credits, distributed as specified below;
  2. Pass all required comprehensive exams;
  3. Satisfy the logic requirement;
  4. Complete the Dissertation Transition Seminar;
  5. Hold pre-proposal meeting

At least 15 courses (45 credits) are required and are to be distributed as follows:

  1. Proseminars
    During their first year of residency in the PhD program, all students are required to pass
    the Ethics Proseminar and a year-long proseminar covering selected issues that arise in
    metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of language, and the
    philosophy of science (LEMMS Proseminar 1 & LEMMS Proseminar 2).
  2. History Courses
    All students must take three history courses, including one in Ancient, Medieval, or
    Renaissance philosophy, and one in Modern philosophy. An appropriately historical course
    in 20th Century philosophy may count as a history course, but not a Modern course. In order
    for a graduate course to count as satisfying a history requirement, it must:
    • Be focused on an historical figure(s), movement(s), or period(s)
    • Approach its material with a primary learning goal to understand, interpret, reconstruct,
      and critically evaluate the texts.

      Whether a particular course satisfies these requirements, and whether it counts as Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, or Modern, will be determined by the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with appropriate faculty.
  3. Advanced Topical Courses
    Students must take two topically oriented courses at the 8000-level, one in a
    normative area and one in a non-normative area.
  4. Logic
    The logic requirement must be satisfied during the first year in the program. Students may
    satisfy the logic requirement in one of three ways:
    • Taking PHIL-5001, Intermediate Logic, and earning a grade of B or higher;
    • Taking and passing an examination administered by the Department on the material
      covered in PHIL-5001; or
    • By receiving a final grade of B+ or higher in an equivalent or more advanced course at
      another institution.

      Under (i) above, with approval by the Director of Graduate Studies as well as the faculty
      who teach PHIL-5001, an equivalent or more advanced course at Georgetown may
      be substituted for PHIL-5001. Under (iii) above, the Director of Graduate Studies a
      well as the faculty who teach PHIL-5001 must approve the proposal to certify a course
      from another institution as equivalent to or more advanced than PHIL-5001.
      Students who fail to pass the Logic requirement during their first year in the program may
      have one further opportunity to pass the requirement.
  5. 4000–4999 Level Courses
    No more than one fifth (⅕) of the credits required for one’s degree may be earned in
    courses below the 5000-level. Courses below the 4000-level may not be taken for
    graduate credit

Timeline for the Ph.D. Program

The timeline below assumes that students are on financial aid. Those who are not should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies and develop a personalized plan of study that is realistic given the student’s other commitments. Additionally, this timeline applies (only) to students who matriculated in the Ph.D. program in or after Fall 2018. Finally, there are variations on this pattern in virtue of alternative funding plans (special or outside fellowships, research assistantships tied to faculty grants) or advanced standing.

Year One

  • You will take four courses per semester and so complete 8 of the required 15 courses (24 of the required 45 credits).
  • Complete eight (8) courses or 24 credits, including the two Proseminars (Ethics and the year-long LEMMS Proseminar); two comprehensive examinations based on the Ethics and LEMMS Proseminars; and the Logic requirement (PHIL-551or its equivalent and PHIL-350 if needed). Students will have a non-service Fellowship during Year 1 (see IV.A.2 below).
  • Participate in the non-credit 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.
  • Financial aid: first-year students on financial aid have a non-service “fellowship” year. This means that they are supported to devote themselves full-time to their coursework.

Year Two

  • You will take three courses per semester, and so complete an additional 6 of the required 15 courses (18 of the required 45 credits), for a running total of 14 of the 15 required courses (42 of the required 45 credits).
  • Course selection is at your discretion, but you must have a plan to satisfy the requirements in the history of philosophy and the two required systematic courses at the 500+ level, one in normative philosophy, and one in non-normative philosophy. You should consult with the DGS on this plan.
  • Financial aid: the second year in the program is a service stipend year. This typically entails serving as a Teaching Assistant for a large introductory course in both semesters. You will be responsible for leading two weekly discussion sections of 22–25 students each, grading your students’ work, holding office hours, attending the course plenary lectures, and other duties as assigned.

Year Three

  • Complete your final course, ensuring that all coursework requirements for the Ph.D. have been completed.
  • Participate in the non-credit 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.
  • You must hold a “pre-proposal” or dissertation organization meeting by the end of the third year. In this meeting, you will plan a path toward a formal dissertation proposal with a proposed dissertation committee and mentor.
  • Financial aid: service responsibilities resemble those of second-year students, with the additional possibility of serving as a teaching assistant for PHIL-099, Political and Social Thought, the introductory philosophy course for first-year students in the School of Foreign Service. (You may apply 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.)

Year Four

  • You must defend a formal dissertation proposal by the end of the fall semester of the fourth year (your seventh semester in the program). This requires writing a formal proposal according to the regulations of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and defending that proposal in a formal oral defense. Students who do not pass the oral defense may try a second (and final) time during their eighth semester in the program.
  • Financial aid: during your fourth year, you will begin to teach your own courses as an instructor of record (a “Teaching Associate”). You will choose a Teaching Mentor, who along with the Department’s Coordinator of Teaching Associates will guide you through the process of designing and teaching courses. There is also substantial teacher training available through the University’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship.

Year Five

  • Financial aid: your fifth year in the program will be a second non-service fellowship year. You will devote yourself entirely to writing your dissertation, with the goal of putting yourself in a position to complete and formally defend the dissertation during the sixth year

Year Six

  • Financial aid: funding is not guaranteed for the sixth year, but it has usually been available to students who have made good progress through the program. If funded, you will teach again as a Teaching Associate, gaining additional valuable experience as an instructor.
  • You should defend your doctoral dissertation during this sixth year, as well as prepare for seeking post-doctoral employment.

Years Seven and Eight

  • You may, if needed, take a seventh year to complete and defend your dissertation, and it is permissible to apply for an eighth year in the program if necessary.
  • However, no financial aid is likely to be available for the seventh and eighth years.