Below, we have laid out the following details for the Ph.D. program in Philosophy:

  • Learning Goals

And the program of study, which includes five steps for the Ph.D.:

  1. First-Year Seminar
  2. Course Work: 60 credits of course work, meeting distribution requirements, with at least a B average.
  3. First and Second Qualifying Papers
  4. Prospectus: dissertation proposal (prospectus) examination
  5. Dissertation: oral defense of a completed dissertation

Additionally, information regarding the en-route M.A. degree is available.

On successful completion of the program, students are expected to:

  1.  have breadth of knowledge of philosophy and its history.
  2.  have depth of knowledge in some areas of philosophy.
  3.  be able to present and defend a philosophical position in oral argument.
  4.  be able to write at the level of professional philosophy.
  5.  be able to conduct sustained research on philosophical topics.
  6.  be prepared for and have experience of classroom teaching, including knowledge of how to prepare a syllabus and other class materials; have developed the professional skills necessary for classroom management, effective communication of material, and elucidation of critical thinking.
  7.  be ready to enter the job market, including knowledge of how to prepare a letter of application, CV and supporting materials; have developed skills in presenting a job talk and interviewing for an academic position.
  8.  have knowledge about grant-awarding agencies and the ability to prepare proposals for grants and fellowships. 
  9. have knowledge of the norms of ethical practice within the profession.

In the Fall semester, first-year Ph.D. students are required to take an intensive seminar taught by two instructors. Its aim is to introduce students to high-level philosophical studies through detailed discussions of major philosophical texts. An approximate reading list will be sent out to incoming students during the summer. The seminar will have short weekly or bi-weekly writing assignments and regular student presentations. At the discretion of the Executive Officer, the seminar may count toward satisfying the distribution requirement with a grade of pass. The seminar is not open to other students.

Grades: Students will be graded "pass" or "fail." Students who fail may repeat once. Should a student fail twice, the Evaluations Committee will bring this to the attention of the Executive Committee and in the absence of considerations strong enough to override, will recommend that the student be dropped from the program.

A student must complete 60 credits of course work with at least a B average.

Credits in Other Fields: Up to 15 credits may, with the approval of the Executive Officer, be taken in related areas. Students admitted with an M.A. in philosophy are allowed 6 credits in related fields.

Transfer Credits: No more than 20 credits may be transferred from other programs. No transfer credits will be approved until the student completes four courses with at least a B average. The Executive Officer will determine how many credits the student may transfer.

Satisfactory Academic Progress: Students must be making satisfactory progress toward the degree in order to maintain status at The Graduate Center and to be eligible for any student financial assistance. A student is deemed not to be making satisfactory progress if he or she has a grade point average below 3.00, has accumulated more than two open grades (“INC,” “INP,” “NGR,” “ABS,” and “ABP”), has completed 45 credits without having passed the First Examination, has completed 10 semesters without having passed the Second Examination, has received two “NRP” grades in succession, or has exceeded the time limit for the degree. The Graduate Center reviews each student’s record every semester. If formal standards have not been met, a student may register (and receive financial aid, if otherwise eligible) only upon petition of the student’s Deputy Executive Officer to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Students whose petitions are approved are considered to be making satisfactory progress toward the degree and are eligible to receive financial aid.

Distribution Requirements: Courses are organized into five groups:

  • Group A: metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of logic and mathematics.
  • Group B: epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of physics.
  • Group C: ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of law.
  • Group D: history of philosophy.
  • Group E: logic.

Students are required to take two courses from each of groups A, B, C, and D, and one course from group E. The distribution areas towards which a given course counts will be determined by the faculty member in consultation with the Executive Officer. No course shall count towards more than two distribution areas. A student may count a course towards at most one area. A student must achieve a grade of at least B for a course to count toward satisfying a distribution requirement. For ways of completing the logic requirement see here.

Students will be examined on two Qualifying papers. The first, of 5,000 words, with leeway of plus or minus 500 words, is due on the day before the first day of Spring semester in the student's second year. The second, of 7,500 words, with leeway of plus or minus 500 words and on a different topic from the first, is due on the day before the first day of Spring semester in the student's third year. (The two Papers may be in the same area, however; for example, both may be in Ethics, or both in the Philosophy of Language.) No extensions will be granted except for a serious medical or other emergency. A student who does not submit a paper on time will fail the examination. Students are encouraged to base a Qualifying Paper on a course paper but this is not required.

See the full requirements for the Qualifying Papers

First Examination: Students pass the First Examination upon successful completion of the First-Year Seminar, the First Qualifying Paper, and one course in each group, A to E. The Assistant Program Officer will notify the Registrar's Office of the completion of these requirements.
Second Examination: Students pass the Second Examination upon successful completion of the Second Qualifying Paper and the remaining distribution requirements. The Assistant Program Officer will notify the Registrar's Office of the completion of these requirements.

Upon completing 45 credits with an average grade of B, passing the First Examination, and passing the Second Qualifying Paper, a doctoral student may apply for an en-route M.A. degree. Those seeking an en-route M.A. degree should have the Executive Officer and the Assistant Program Officer initiate the appropriate action. The En-Route M.A. is available only to eligible Ph.D. students.