Each graduate student is required to concentrate in at least one area and satisfy distribution requirements in all four. Some exceptions are possible for students pursuing an interdisciplinary track. Unless stated otherwise, courses used to satisfy the distribution requirements in an area will count towards the concentration requirements for that area.
Automatically approved courses
All of the following courses automatically count towards the distribution and concentration requirements for the area and subarea under which they are listed, subject to the general description of the requirements in each area.
Courses on the list may also satisfy the distribution and concentration requirements for areas or subareas other than the ones under which they are listed. Approval for satisfying the distribution or concentration requirements in an area or subarea other than the one for which the course is listed must be sought from the relevant area committee, either prior to taking the course or afterward.
Metaphysics and Epistemology
- Metaphysics: P560, P571
- Epistemology: P562
- Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Logic, and Philosophy of Mathematics: P520, P551, P552, P720
- Philosophy of Mind: P561, P570
- P730 and P760 would count toward metaphysics, epistemology, or either, depending on content.
- P750 counts as either logic or philosophy of mathematics, depending on content
History of Philosophy
- Ancient: P511, P512
- Medieval: P515
- Modern: P522
- Recent: P526, P530, P531, P535
- Logic: P505 (counts toward the Distribution Requirement in Logic, but not the Concentration Requirement), P506, P550, P751
- P750 counts as either logic or philosophy of logic and mathematics, depending on content
- Ethics: P540, P541, P740
- Social and Political Philosophy: P543, P544, P743
- Legal Philosophy: P545
- Aesthetics: P546
The role of the area committee
Approval for satisfying the distribution or concentration requirements for any course not on this list, including the P590 course and courses given in other departments, must be sought from the relevant area committee, either prior to taking the course or afterward. Approval after the fact will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. No course may be counted as satisfying more than one unit of one distribution or concentration requirement.
Area committees decide whether to approve outside courses in part on the basis of whether the student has acquired a grounding in the area by taking the sum total of the courses proposed to satisfy the requirement. Because of this, it could happen that one student receives approval for a course and another student is denied approval for the same course.
Regarding P590 courses that are taken concurrently with an undergraduate course, it is expected that a graduate student will use no more than two such courses to satisfy the distribution and concentration requirements as a whole, and no more than one such P590 course in any given area.
No course (understood as a particular course, not a course number) may be counted as more than one unit of one distribution or concentration requirement.
Qualifying exam and dissertation prospectus course
The qualifying exam consists of an essay of roughly 25 pages, together with an oral exam, on a topic that the student plans to pursue further in the dissertation. The qualifying exam will test whether the student is ready to write a dissertation on the chosen topic. Passing the qualifying exam is the final step before advancing to candidacy. To schedule the qualifying exam in a term, the student must be enrolled concurrently in the dissertation prospectus course, P804.
Successfully passing both the oral and written components of the qualifying exam is necessary and sufficient for passing the dissertation prospectus course. The dissertation prospectus course and qualifying exam should be taken no later than the second semester of the third year of fulltime study. This may be postponed only with the approval of the qualifying exam committee chair and the director of graduate studies.
If a student fails to pass the qualifying exam during the term in which he or she is first enrolled in P804, he or she will be placed on academic probation. He or she may retake the exam in conjunction with the prospectus course in the immediately following semester, excluding summer terms. If the student does not pass the qualifying exam on the second try, the student will be dismissed from the doctoral program.
If a student fails to enroll in the dissertation prospectus course (and hence fails to take the qualifying exam) by the end of the third year of fulltime study, and a delay has not been approved by the chair of the qualifying exam committee and the director of graduate studies, the student will be placed on academic probation. The student will then be required to take the dissertation prospectus course the immediately following semester, excluding summer terms. If the student does not pass the qualifying exam in that semester, the student will be dismissed from the doctoral program, without an opportunity to retake the examination.
The qualifying exam will be administered by an ad hoc committee consisting of at least three members. This will typically evolve later into the student’s dissertation committee. A representative of the minor may be included in the exam committee, if the chair of the committee finds it desirable. Note that the University requires that a member representing the student’s minor belong to the dissertation committee.
Students should provide the members of their qualifying committee with a copy of their qualifying exam essay at least three weeks in advance of the date scheduled for the oral exam.
The dissertation is the most important and substantial piece of work completed during the candidate’s graduate student career. It is seen as a piece of apprenticeship, one that demonstrates three things: familiarity with the literature in the student’s area of concentration; an understanding of the standard tools of the area; and a substantial original contribution to the area.
The dissertation is to be completed in a timely fashion. Normal expectations are that it will be completed by the end of the fifth or sixth year. Students should provide the members of their dissertation committee with a complete copy of their dissertation at least 30 days in advance of the date scheduled for the dissertation oral exam.
Use your Graduate Academic Bulletin
Students pursuing a graduate degree in Philosophy should use the University Graduate School Academic Bulletin.