The philosophy PhD program at CU Boulder consists of approximately 2.5 years of coursework and 2.5 years of dissertation work, with 5 years of guaranteed funding. We are both a research and a teaching department; teaching appointments are not only the principal means of supporting graduate students, but are also the way we train graduate students for a career of teaching as well as research in philosophy.
Applicants for admission to the Graduate School for work toward a doctoral degree with a major in philosophy are expected to have had 18 or more credit hours in undergraduate courses in the subject.
Students in the doctoral program must satisfy a variety of requirements, including the completion of coursework. The department has a diversified faculty that can supervise the writing of doctoral dissertations on a wide range of topics. The department makes available teaching assistantships and then graduate part-time instructorships to its doctoral students and assists with job placement.
Students wishing to pursue doctoral work in philosophy should note the doctoral degree requirements and should consult the PhD program portion and the Graduate Admissions portion of the philosophy department's website.
- Coursework: Students must take a minimum of 45 hours of approved graduate study, in addition to the 30 hours of dissertation credit hours required by the Graduate School.
- Distribution requirements: 27 hours must be devoted to satisfying specific distribution requirements.
- Language and technical requirement: Students must satisfy any language and/or technical requirements that the department judges to be necessary given the area of the dissertation.
- Logic: Students must demonstrate proficiency in propositional and first-order logic
- Diagnostic paper: Students must submit a diagnostic paper, generally at the beginning of the third semester of graduate study.
- Qualifying papers: Students must submit a qualifying paper, generally at the beginning of the fifth semester of graduate study. Students may advance in the program only if the qualifying paper is judged acceptable by the examining committee and approved by the department.
- Prospectus and oral examination: After passing the qualifying paper, students must assemble a prospectus committee of five members of the department, with a clearly designated chair. (The prospectus committee can include faculty members outside of philosophy, with, and only with, the approval of the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and the Graduate School.) Students must submit a written prospectus to this committee, who, after judging the prospectus acceptable, will conduct an oral exam concerning this prospectus and related topics.
- Dissertation and oral defense: Students must write a dissertation that is acceptable to the dissertation committee, and defend the dissertation in a public, oral defense at a time deemed appropriate by the committee.
- Students are expected to make reasonable progress toward the PhD, and will be evaluated by the department in this regard each spring.
For detailed requirements, consult the PhD portion of the philosophy department's website.
Recommended Plan of Study
Ideally, PhD students in their first two years will take and complete three courses per semester, for a total of 12 courses (36 credit hours) by the end of the second year. The minimum number of courses PhD students can take to make good progress in the first two years of the program is five courses per year.
At the beginning of the third semester in the program, students turn in a diagnostic paper, with feedback from three faculty members.
At the beginning of the fifth semester in the program, students turn in the fifth-semester qualifying paper, which will be evaluated anonymously; this is a qualifying event that the student must pass in order to be considered for advancement to candidacy in the PhD program.
In the fifth semester, students continue to take courses in order to complete the required 15 courses (45 credit hours). Ideally, students should have completed coursework by the end of their fifth semester and should begin work on the prospectus.
Students should defend their work in a prospectus oral exam sometime in their sixth semester. Students are eligible to sign up for up to 10 dissertation hours before they pass their prospectus exam. The remainder of the required 30 dissertation hours are used in the fourth and fifth years in the program while completing the dissertation.