The Philosophy Department offers programs of advanced coursework and individual research leading to the MA and the PhD degrees. Our programs allow students latitude in pursuing their interests, but are designed to emphasize the Department’s principal areas of strength:
· Environmental Philosophy
· Epistemology and Philosophy of Mind
· Ethics and Political Philosophy
Admission is granted on a competitive basis to applicants with an undergraduate background in philosophy—usually a major. Applicants with an MA or graduate coursework in philosophy from another institution are also very welcome to apply. Applicants with little or no formal background in philosophy, should consult with the Graduate Coordinator before applying.
Completion of our MA program is not a prerequisite for admission to our PhD program. Applicants interested in earning a PhD should apply directly to the PhD program. Applicants interested only in a terminal MA should apply to the MA program. Students in the PhD program who decide to leave may take a terminal MA before doing so.
The Department typically offers ten graduate courses each semester—four 8000-level seminars open only to graduate students and six 6000-level graduate/undergraduate courses open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Graduate courses in philosophy are not offered during the summer, but language courses satisfying the foreign language requirement normally are.
PhD students take 15 courses, including the logic requirement—PHIL 6510 (Deductive Systems)—and at least 10 seminars. These seminars must include the two seminars that satisfy the history requirement—PHIL 8000 (Seminar in History of Philosophy: Ancient and Medieval) and PHIL 8010 (Seminar in History of Philosophy: Modern and Contemporary). In addition, there is a foreign language requirement. PhD students must also pass two written and one oral qualifying examination before they are allowed to defend their prospectus and start writing their dissertation. MA students take 8 courses. At least four of them must be seminars and one of the seminars must be PHIL 8000 or PHIL 8010. MA students must write a thesis. Both PhD and MA students choose a major professor and advisory committee during their first year, who will advise and encourage them throughout this process. Complete details about departmental policies and procedures regarding graduate students can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.
The Department is committed to training students to be effective undergraduate teachers of philosophy. Our graduate students regularly win Outstanding Teaching Assistant awards from the University. This training is available to graduate students through departmental assistantships, for which all applicants are advised to apply. Students usually assist faculty members in large, introductory courses for their first two years. During their first semester, they are also required to take our Teaching Philosophy course (PHIL 7010). After students have passed their written qualifying examinations, they may teach courses on their own, as the instructors of record. They are assigned a faculty teaching mentor to whom they may turn for information and advice. Further details about departmental teaching assistantships are available in the Graduate Student Handbook.
In addition to these departmental teaching assistantships, there are some research assistantships available through the Graduate School for entering students. The Department must compete for these every year, and will automatically select the most highly qualified applicants to put forward as candidates. Successful candidates will serve as research assistants to faculty members for two years, and then will have a departmental teaching assistantship for the remainder of their eligibility period. More information about Graduate School assistantships can be found here.
The Department sponsors a colloquium series that brings in well-known philosophers from around the world, and also holds occasional conferences and other special events. In addition, the Philosophy Graduate Student Association hosts a graduate student conference on a regular basis as well as a film series. There are occasional reading groups involving graduate students and faculty, depending on interest.