Philosophy (PhD)

The department offers a graduate program leading to the master of arts (MA) and the doctor of philosophy (PhD) degrees. The program, which is pluralistic in orientation, requires students to develop a broad knowledge of the history of philosophy, major fields, and various approaches and methods. Students are urged to concentrate in a specific area at the advanced level. Specializations are supported in American philosophy, Continental philosophy, feminist philosophy, Latin American philosophy, philosophy of race, philosophical psychology, and environmental philosophy.

Our program is known for its pluralism, close mentoring relationships between graduate students and faculty, a faculty committed to teaching excellence as well as research, supportive rather than competitive relationships among graduate students, and professionally active and successful graduate students.

The department and faculty have particular strengths in a range of traditions and fields of focus. The program requires students to develop a broad knowledge of the history of philosophy, major fields, and various approaches and methods. We also welcome interdisciplinary approaches. Students are expected to concentrate in a specific area at the advanced level.

Each student designs a program in consultation with a faculty adviser. Two or more years are typically required to complete the master’s degree and five years for the doctorate.

Program's Admission Requirements

Please visit the program's website.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Represent the pluralistic orientation of philosophy including the four major traditions of inquiry: Continental European, American, Feminist, and Analytic.
  • Delineate the history of Western philosophy, including the main eras: Ancient, Modern, 19th C., 20th and 21st C.
  • Develop expertise in any combination of the sub-disciplines within the field of philosophy, such as ethics, data ethics, bioethics, metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, philosophy of language, philosophy of race, decolonial philosophy, social and political philosophy, critical theory, philosophical psychology, environmental philosophy, and others.
  • Students must explore emerging and engaged areas of philosophical work.
  • Develop proficiency in a second language relevant to their area of research.
  • Develop proficiency in logic.
  • Deepen the knowledge of main topics in the history of philosophy by producing an independent research paper (PhD students).
  • Specialize in specific philosophical areas at an advanced research level by researching relevant primary and secondary literature, designing, and writing a doctoral dissertation or a master's thesis.

Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy

Students must complete at least 81 graduate credits, of which at least 18 must be dissertation research credits. As part of the requirements for completing the PhD, students must also take at least twelve 4-credit graduate courses within the department of philosophy. Students must complete the course distribution requirements, demonstrate proficiency in a second language and pass two comprehensive examinations, which in our program are extensive research projects — one in the history of philosophy (the ‘history paper’) and one in the student’s intended area of research specialization (the literature review). Most students finish their doctoral degrees within five to six years. The Division of Graduate Studies imposes a limit of seven years for completion of the PhD degree.

The distribution requirements may be satisfied by receiving a mid-B or better in

  • History Requirements (3 courses)
  • Traditions Requirements (4 courses)
  • Emerging and Engaged Philosophies Requirements (3 courses total)
  • Logic Requirement (1 course)
  • In the first year of employment as a GE, graduate students must also complete a total of 3 credits by enrolling in a one-credit professionalization pro-seminar on teaching for all three terms of the regular academic year.

History Requirements *12
One course from each of the following:
Course from ancient period (PHIL 521)
Course from modern (16th-18th centuries) period (PHIL 533)
Course from 19th century (PHIL 553)
Traditions Requirements
One courses about continental philosophical traditions 14
One courses about analytic philosophic traditions 14
One courses about American philosophical traditions 14
One courses about feminist philosophical traditions 14
Engaged and Emerging Philosophy *
Two courses in Emerging Philosophies8
Native American Philosophy
Feminist Philosophy: [Topic]
Philosophy and Race: Contemporary Issues
One course in Engaged Philosophies4
Data Ethics
Environmental Philosophy: [Topic]
One course in advanced symbolic logic (PHIL 526)4
Teaching Seminar
Three one-credit teaching seminars3
PHIL 603Dissertation18
Total Credits81

The traditions requirement is usually fulfilled by completing the Advanced Introductory course in the area (571, 572, 573, 574).


May be filled by topics courses.

Note on criteria for multiple fulfillment:

Graduate courses may be listed as counting toward the simultaneous fulfillment of multiple categories of distribution simultaneously, though this is possible for only some of the categories. A course may count toward one Historical Period while also fulfilling a Philosophical Tradition or a course in Emerging and Engaged Philosophies. Courses may count toward either a Philosophical Tradition or the Emerging and Engaged requirement, but no course may count toward both of these requirements at once. For example, a course in nineteenth-century feminist philosophy can count toward either the requirement in the Feminist Tradition or in Emerging and Engaged Philosophies (but not both) and at the same time fulfill a requirement for Historical Periods. When a course is listed so as to provide an option for fulfillment of either the Traditions or Emergent & Engaged requirements, students must choose which requirement the course is to fulfill.

Additional Requirements

The comprehensive examinations are passed by completing two substantial research papers under the supervision of faculty members. Students are advanced to candidacy upon completion of the comprehensives. A dissertation prospectus must be accepted by the candidate’s committee after a preliminary oral examination. The written dissertation must receive the approval of the dissertation committee after a final oral examination.