Requirements for Graduate Degrees in Philosophy

Master of Arts (MA)

The graduate program in Philosophy is a PhD program. However, the MA is a part of the PhD program and is awarded upon Advancement to Candidacy for the PhD. In addition to the graduate division requirements, the master’s degree candidate will take courses so that the total course work will satisfy the Course and Seminar Requirement of the PhD program.

Graduate Division thesis and examination requirements under Plan 1 and Plan 2 may be satisfied as follows.

Plan 1

A Qualifying Paper, as specified in the PhD Program requirements, that is passed at the PhD or MA level. (Usual choice of this department.)

Plan 2

A comprehensive examination in a major area of philosophy, administered by a committee selected by the Graduate Advisor.

Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil)

The degree of C.Phil is awarded when students have satisfied requirements 1-3 of the PhD Program and are thereby advanced to Candidacy for the PhD.

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)

Course Requirements

A total of 14 graduate courses and seminars must be taken (for letter grades, not S/U) and these courses must be distributed as follows:

  1. PHIL 284G (Intermediate Modern Logic).

  2. At lease five seminars.

  3. At least three courses in the history of philosophy.

  4. At least three courses chosen from: metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.

  5. At least two courses from: ethics, social and political philosophy, and value theory (broadly construed).

Requirements (3)-(5) may be satisfied by either seminars or lecture courses listed as graduate courses. A given course may be used to satisfy at most one of the requirements (3)-(5).

A student may be exempted from requirement (1) by passing an examination (given only at the time of entrance into the PhD Program) designed to demonstrate training in logic equivalent to that provided by 283G and 284G.

A maximum of one Independent Study course may count towards the 14 course requirement provided that the content of the independent study does not significantly overlap the content of any other course used to satisfy the 14 course requirement.

Undergraduate courses will not count towards the 14 course requirement. Graduate students may be allowed to take undergraduate courses, but only in their first year and only on the recommendation of the Graduate Advisor, with the permission of the Instructor.

Students who pass the Qualifying Paper Requirement (see below) prior to completing their course requirements must complete the course requirements by the end of their third year.

Qualifying Paper

A student must write a successful qualifying paper of at most 35 pages. The paper is to be an original work and should present a philosophical thesis and defend it by argument. A successful qualifying paper is a paper that is judged by a majority of the faculty to demonstrate the ability to write a successful dissertation. The faculty will meet at the end of each term to evaluate the papers submitted that term. To be eligible for consideration in a given term, a paper must be submitted by the end of the ninth week of the term. Any paper written while its author was a student in the graduate program may be submitted as a qualifying paper, and the paper may be submitted at any time after enrolling. However, a student is allowed no more than two submissions (that is, two chances to pass). Except for the rare student who writes a successful qualifying paper prior to the completion of the course requirements, the following regulations apply:

  • Upon completion of the course requirements (or the completion of an Independent Study Course 596 approved by the Graduate Advisor for the term after the completion of the course requirements), students must register in PHIL 597 for the purpose of writing a qualifying paper.

  • Though the choice of topic for the qualifying paper is not subject to formal approval, prior to registering in PHIL 597 a student must submit a short topic proposal (of about one page) and the following statement which is signed by at least one faculty member: “I have discussed the suitability of this topic proposal and the student’s qualification in the proposed area.”

  • Students must write a successful Qualifying Paper upon the completion of the second quarter in which they are enrolled in PHIL 597 or by the end of the first quarter of their fourth year, whichever occurs earlier.

While a term paper written for a course may be submitted as a qualifying paper, only rarely will an unrevised term paper be good enough to meet the standard the faculty applies in evaluating qualifying papers. Thus it will be advisable for most students who want to submit a term paper as a qualifying paper to revise and expand it. Normally, this is done by registering for PHIL 597 upon the completion of the course requirements. Furthermore, an Independent Study course (in addition to or as part of the 14 course requirement) may be advisable in some cases as a preparation for attempting the qualifying paper. Students may consult with faculty during the preparation of a qualifying paper, but a successful paper must demonstrate the capacity for independent work.

Oral Examination

The University requirement of a Qualifying examination is satisfied by passing the Oral Examination upon passing the qualifying paper requirement. This exam will be administered by a committee chosen by the student and shall be scheduled immediately after the Qualifying Paper has been passed. The Oral Examination is forward-looking towards the dissertation, and its purpose is to help the student, and the committee, to decide on the feasibility of the proposed topic, as arising either out of the recently completed Qualifying Paper, or out of a brief proposal separately submitted for the Oral.

The Dissertation

Satisfactory completion of a dissertation (and the possibility of an oral defense thereof) will conclude the requirements for the PhD.