Ph.D. Program Requirements

Coursework for the Ph.D.

Students are required to take 15 quarter courses for the Ph.D. (whether they enter the program with or a B.A. or with an M.A.) These include a series of three proseminars for first-year graduate students, two in metaphysics and epistemology, and one in moral philosophy (PHIL 275A, PHIL 275B, PHIL 275C). The proseminars are designed to acquaint first-year students with the current state of discussion in central areas of contemporary philosophy and to impart the skills needed to conduct their own research.

In addition to the proseminars, there is a distribution requirement. Students must take one additional course (beyond PHIL 275A and PHIL 275B) in metaphysics and epistemology broadly construed, 2 additional courses (beyond PHIL 275C) in the area of ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics, and three courses in the history of philosophy, with 1 of these in ancient philosophy. Finally, students entering the program in Fall 2018 and beyond are required to enroll in the 3rd and 4th year research seminar, PHIL 276, during winter and spring quarters of their third year and winter quarter of their fourth year. Phil 276 should be taken for 2 units on an S/NC basis in the winter quarters of the third and fourth years, and for 4 units on a graded basis in the spring quarter of the third year. The 4 graded units of PHIL 276 count as one of the 15 courses required for the Ph.D. (Students who have advanced to candidacy are exempted from the fourth year winter quarter requirement.) 

Of the 15 courses required for the Ph.D., 10 must be seminars and workshops in the 272-285 series. (Only 4 graded units of PHIL 276 count towards the PhD course requirements). Up to 5 courses may be drawn from PHIL 125 (Intermediate Logic), courses in the PHIL 220-266 series (mixed undergraduate/graduate courses with an additional section for graduate students), or PHIL 290-292 (directed studies courses). Courses taken on a Satisfactory (S)/No Credit (NC) basis cannot be used to satisfy course requirements. Students are in addition expected to take one seminar on an S/NC basis each quarter after they have completed their course work until they advance to candidacy.

Normally students take 9 courses during their first year and 5 during their second year. Philosophy 276, the 3rd and 4th year research seminar, should be taken for 4 graded units in the spring of the third year.  This counts as the student’s 15th course.

Logic Requirement

The logic requirement for the Ph.D. is the completion of PHIL 125 (Intermediate Logic) with a grade of “B” or better. PHIL 124 (Formal Logic) is the pre-requisite for PHIL 125. PHIL 124 is waived for a student who shows sufficient knowledge of logic upon entering the graduate program, as indicated by an optional diagnostic examination administered at the start of each academic year.

Students who are unsure about the adequacy of their background are encouraged to take the test for diagnostic purposes. Depending on how a student does on the diagnostic exam, a student may be permitted to audit part or all of PHIL 124 in order to get the needed background for PHIL 125.


Upon entering the program, a student is assigned a faculty mentor who consults with the student each quarter to discuss the student’s individual course of study, progress in the program, and recent performance. Students also consult the Faculty Graduate Advisor regularly to discuss their course of study and progress in the program.

Colloquia and Professional Development Workshop Requirement

Students must register for the PHIL 270 (Philosophy Colloquia) during each quarter of their first and second years. Students must register for PHIL 400 (Research and Professional Development Workshop) during each quarter of their second and third years.

M.A. Paper

Students who enter the program with only a B.A. must complete a Master’s paper. A student selects a paper to submit to the graduate advisor as their M.A. paper by the end of the spring quarter of their second year. M.A. papers can be seminar papers, revised seminar papers, or any other paper that the student has written (of 25 pages or less). (Standard practice is to take a good seminar paper, in consultation with the instructor, and to rewrite it in response to one round of comments. Further information on what constitutes an acceptable paper is available from the Faculty Graduate Advisor.)

Upon the submission of this paper, the graduate advisor selects three faculty members to serve as the M.A. committee, which conducts an oral examination on the paper. Normally the oral examination will be completed before the end of the student’s second year, but it may be postponed until the fall quarter of the student’s third year.

Master’s Degree

Though we do not admit students only for the Master’s Degree, the students who enter the program with only a B.A. may earn an M.A., and occasionally a student leaves the program after completing the M.A. requirements. The M.A, requirements are 12 courses, with a grade of “B” or better, including the three proseminars for first-year graduate students. Of these 12 courses, 8 courses must be seminars and workshops in the 272-283 series, and up to 4 courses may be drawn from PHIL 125, courses in the PHIL 220-266 series, or PHIL 290-292. The logic requirement for the M.A, the degree is the completion of PHIL 124 with a grade of “B” or better, though this requirement may be waived for students who show sufficient knowledge of logic upon entering the graduate program, as indicated by an optional logic diagnostic examination.

Proposition Requirement

All Ph.D. students must complete an acceptable proposition normally during their third year in the program. A proposition is a paper, no more than forty pages in length, devoted to a significant problem in philosophy. It should show the ability to mount a sustained thesis and to work with the relevant primary or secondary literature. The proposition project may lead to a dissertation, but it is not required to.

Language Requirement

Students must show the competence necessary to work in one of four foreign languages: French, German, Latin, or Greek. Another language may be substituted upon approval of the faculty if it agrees better with the student’s area of their research.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations

Students must write a dissertation prospectus and pass a qualifying oral examination before advancing to candidacy. This examination, which is supervised by a faculty committee as stipulated in the regulations of the Graduate Division, concentrates on the students’ preparation for writing a dissertation as indicated by the dissertation prospectus. It must be taken after the student has passed the M.A., language, and proposition requirements and normally occurs within two-quarters of the completion of these requirements.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

A dissertation to be presented as prescribed by the Graduate Council is prepared under the direction of the candidate’s dissertation committee. After completion of the dissertation, the candidate is examined in its defense by the dissertation committee.

Normative Time to Degree

18 quarters