College of LAS > Academics > Philosophy > Graduate Program > Philosophy (PhD)

Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy program offers courses, seminars and dissertation direction culminating in the award of a PhD. While the program touches diverse areas of philosophy, its chief orientation is toward Continental Philosophy, with many members of the department concentrating on issues in ethics and values studies within this tradition or in relation to the broader philosophical tradition.

Real-World Experience

Both the content of our offerings and the style in which we pursue our studies differ from those of most other schools in the English-speaking world. You are strongly encouraged to refer to texts in the original language, in addition to translations, and are expected to acquire reading abilities in the foreign languages relevant to your research.

We emphasize:

  • Focused research seminars rather than broad survey
  • Research papers rather than exams
  • Guided research rather than comprehensive examinations
  • Close reading of texts rather than distant talk
  • Careful and disciplined research to pedagogical rites of initiation

Competence in two of French, German, Latin or Greek is required. Competence in other languages may be used if deemed appropriate to the research undertaken.

Program Highlights

The department offers courses, seminars, mini-courses, directed research and colloquia to stimulate your investigation of various philosophies and philosophical problems. The philosophy program includes a regular Graduate Student Seminar, a student-organized forum in which students present papers and discuss their work. In addition, the department hosts a national conference for graduate students each spring.

Program Structure

Most graduate courses are taught in a series of streams organized each year under generic titles, such as German Idealism, Ethics, Society and Politics, or Contemporary French Philosophy. These are all research courses, with no distinction being made between MA and PhD course levels. PhD students are free to move in and out of streams as their research and interests dictate.

Completion of the doctoral dissertation, ordinarily 200-275 pages including scholarly apparatus, and a public defense of this work before the dissertation committee is required for PhD candidates. 

Program Length

A total of 80 hours are required for a PhD degree; 16 hours (4 courses) must be taken in history of Western philosophy, contemporary European philosophy and normative philosophy.

The university has set a time limitation of four years between admission to the doctoral program and admission to doctoral candidacy. The time between admission to candidacy and dissertation defense should not be less than eight month or more than five years.

Certificate Options

The Philosophy PhD program may also be expanded to include select graduate certificate programs. The combined programs require either the completion of additional coursework or careful elective selection to fulfill all requirements. A certificate is available in:

  • Business Ethics
  • Womens and Gender Studies

If you're interested in a certificate, a separate application process is required. Contact the program office for additional information.