Graduate Program Requirements

Details regarding requirements for Philosophy and PNP PhD programs

Graduate Orientations and Advising

Departmental Orientation for new graduate students
The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) coordinates a departmental orientation prior to Fall semester for incoming students, to supplement the orientation sessions organized by the Graduate School. At that time, students select a mentor other than the DGS for an additional source of advice, although of course all the faculty and graduate students serve as unofficial advisors to each other. Thereafter, students meet with the DGS at least once a semester, to authorize registration for the next term, and with their mentor regularly.

Departmental Mentored Teaching Experience (MTE) Orientation
The DGS coordinates a departmental orientation on teaching, which is required for all active students in their second year and beyond. This supplements the Graduate School's orientation for first time MTE participants.  

Annual Review
All graduate students are reviewed formally by the faculty every spring, and the DGS shares the individual results of that review in letters to each of the students. Graduate students are required to be on track by the time of this annual meeting, and summer funding is contingent on being on track, without incompletes or overdue qualifying papers. 

The department takes the training of its graduate students seriously. Students who fail as students or in MTEs may be dismissed from the program, and those who are not making satisfactory progress may be put on probation, whose terms call for specific achievements by specific dates. The probation policy is available here.

Graduate Program Requirements

Overview

Completion of the Philosophy and Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (PNP) PhD programs requires:

  1. Completion of required coursework.
  2. Completion of the qualifying paper requirement (see below).
  3. Completion of the Mentored Teaching Experience (MTE) requirement.
  4. Regular attendance at the department's Philosophy Colloquium.
  5. Completions of the department's colloquium requirement (see below).
  6. Completion and defense of a dissertation prospectus (typically during the 4th year).
  7. Completion and defense of a dissertation.

Students are not generally required to study any foreign language or fields outside philosophy, but might be individually required to pursue such studies for their particular research program. Some of our students complete considerable coursework in Classics, Political Science, or Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Students are also permitted to take courses at the University of Missouri-St. Louis or St. Louis University, both of which have strong philosophers and lively philosophical communities.

Some students need to take time off; the Graduate School's website includes information about taking leaves of absence or working as a student not in residence.

Admission to the PNP program does not require undergraduate training in philosophy; students with strong backgrounds in any academic discipline are invited to apply provided they can demonstrate strong competence in and aptitude for philosophy.

Students on special fellowship (e.g. Olin and Chancellor’s) are subject to the same requirements as all other PhD students.

Philosophy Coursework Requirements

Philosophy Coursework Requirements Entering pdf checklist

Philosophy students must complete 42 units of graduate-level (400-level or above) Philosophy coursework. Courses must be passed with at least a 'B-'. No units can be transferred from other institutions.

Philosophy students may participate in the PNP Dissertation Seminar (PNP 501) in semesters when it is offered.

Students register for twelve (12) units per semester in the first year and nine (9) per semester thereafter. So, if they take only philosophy courses, they will complete their 42 required units by the end of their second year.

Philosophy students are required to take:

  • The Philosophy Proseminar (PHIL 502), taken in the first semester.
  • At least two additional 500-level seminars.
  • At least two core surveys in theoretical philosophy (PHIL 4141 Advanced Epistemology, PHIL 4142 Advanced Metaphysics, PHIL 4065 Advanced Philosophy of Language, PHIL 4210 Advanced Philosophy of Science).
  • At least two core surveys in practical philosophy (PHIL 4315 Normative Ethical Theories, PHIL 4310 Metaethics, PHIL 4320 British Moral Theorists, PHIL 4400 Advanced Social and Political Philosophy).
  • At least one core survey in ancient philosophy (PHIL 451 Plato, PHIL 452 Aristotle, PHIL 4530 Hellenistic Philosophy).
  • At least one core survey in modern philosophy (PHIL 4550 Rationalism, PHIL 4560 Empiricism, PHIL 4575 Kant's Moral Theory, PHIL 4570 Kant's Critique of Pure Reason).
  • PHIL 301: Symbolic Logic or PHIL 405: Philosophical Logic. Completion of this requirement requires at least a 'B' in 301 or 405; alternatively, students may complete this requirement by passing a logic exam.

Students may request a waiver of up to two specific couse requirements on the basis of past work; such requests should be made to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Students who entered the program prior to 2016 are subject to different coursework requirements. Please see Philosophy Coursework Requirements Prior to 2016 entry pdf checklist.

PNP Coursework Requirements

PNP Coursework Requirements pdf checklist

PNP students must complete 33 units of Philosophy coursework and 18 units of empirical coursework/labratory work. Courses must be passed with at least a 'B-'. No units can be transferred from other institutions.

PNP students must also participate in the PNP Dissertation Seminar (PNP 501) in semesters when it is offered.

Specific course requriements are outlined on the PNP Coursework Requirements checklist (above).

Students may request a waiver of up to two specific course requirements on the basis of past work; such requests should be made to the Director of PNP.

Students who entered the program prior to 2016 are subject to different coursework requirements. Please see PNP Coursework Requirements Prior to 2016 pdf checklist.

Mentored Teaching Experience

PhD students are required to do four semesters of Mentored Teaching Experience (MTE). Doing MTEs in the department is part of their educational experience. Ordinarily, students are expected to complete the MTE requirement in their second and third year.

Qualifying Paper Requirement

Every student is required to submit two qualifying papers (QPs) by midnight on the last full business day before the beginning of classes in August of their 3rd year (i.e. at the end of the summer of their second year). QPs are supposed to bridge the gap between seminar essays and published work.

To pass, a QP must be a reasonable submission to a good journal, a submission the editor would need to send along to referees. Revise and resubmit (see below) is, for pedagogical reasons, the default judgment, since we want to help students work on the skill of revising toward strong, publishable essays.

Typically, a QP is a revised seminar essay, but it can be written from scratch. It must, however, be substantially written at WUSTL: work written elsewhere, as and MA thesis, say, is unacceptable.

Students are required to pass two QPs (see below), which must be on substantially different topics. For students in the Philosophy (i.e. not PNP) PhD program, it is preferred that papers fall into two of the following categories: theoretical philosophy (epistemology and metaphysics, broadly construed), practical philosophy, or the history of philosophy.

QPs are submitted for blind review, with no identifying marks of authorship, as an attachment to the department's Administrative Assistant, Rachel Dunaway, who forwards the submissions to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). The DGS then assigns each QP to two faculty to referee, noting one as the "chair" responsible for shepherding the two referee reports back to the Administrative Assistant. Faculty will evaluate the QPs within 2-3 weeks, so a decision will be provided to the students on their performance by mid-September. The referees are to judge the QP as high pass, pass, revise and resubmit, or fail. If the referees cannot agree on a judgement, the DGS will appoint a third.

At this stage, there are three possibilities:

  • Two passes: PP = Student stays in the program and begins work on their dissertation prospectus.
  • Two fails: FF = Student is asked to leave the program.
  • Any other combination (PF/RRRR/RRP/RRF) = Student is invited to submit a revised paper (for R&Rs) or a replacement paper (for a failed QP). Revised and replacement papers are due on November 1st.

Any QP judged "revise and resubmit" should be resubmitted with a cover letter explaining how the revision responds to the critiques of the previous draft. (We know that in practice, at lease many of the referees will know the author of the paper on the first submission, and because we want students to be able to seek out clarification and advice from the referees, most or all referees will know the author of the paper by any second submission. This is a situation in which the ideal of blind review struggles to compete with other important values.)

Students are only allowed one attempt to revise or replace QPs, so this second set of submissions can be assessed only as a pass or fail. (Again, if the referees cannot agree on a judgment, the DGS will appoint a third.) After revised or replacement papers have been evaluated, there are three possibilities:

  • Two passes: PP = Student stays in the program and begins work on their dissertation prospectus.
  • Two fails: FF = Student is asked to leave the program.
  • One pass and one fail: PF = Student is invited to write an additional QP. The additional QP is due on March 1st. The additional QP can receive an R&R, in which case a revised paper is due April 15th. If the additional QP eventually receives a pass, the student stays in the program; if it receives a fail, the student is asked to leave the program.

Students will be provided with a letter by the end of the first semester of their third year (exception: those needing to write an additional QP), with information about whether they may progress in the program.

Prospectus and Dissertation Requirements

All forms referenced here and required by the Graduate School can be found here on their website.

By the fourth year, students are working on the prospectus of the dissertation, which should be a 15 to 20 page document stating a problem, a response to the problem, a reckoning of how this response contributes to existing philosophical literature, and an overview of the case for the response. The prospectus should be accompanied by a working bibliography.

The prospectus must be successfully defended before a committee of at least three examiners from the philosophy department.

A Title, Scope, and Procedure form must be filed with the Graduate School by the end of the fourth year. Typically, this is filed when the prospectus is defended. In exceptional cases, it may be filed before the prospectus defense, and refiled with the defense.

The dissertation itself must satisfy the terms of the Graduate School's Doctoral Dissertation Guide, and it must pass the examination of a six-person committee, comprising at least four members of the department and at least one member of WUSTL faculty from outside the department. Leading up to a doctoral dissertation the Dissertation Defense Committee form is sent to and approved by the Graduate School. 15 days following approval the dissertation defense can be scheduled and the Graduate School notified of the date and time.

Colloquium Requirement

Regular attendance is expected at the departmental and PNP colloquia and the ensuing receptions. Sometimes an exception may be granted by the DGS, for example, if a student needs to take a class that is scheduled at the same time.

In addition, every student is required to deliver one colloquium before graduating. The faculty grade the colloquium and the student's performance in the question-and-answer period. Typically, students do this requirement in their last year, ideally as a practice "job talk."

Philosophy MA Requirements

Students in the Philosophy PhD program have earned the MA once they have completed the following:

  • 36 units of coursework, including at least 6 units in each of the three general categories of graduate surveys (theoretical, practical, historical) and at least 6 units of seminars, including 3 units for the proseminar; and
  • one passed qualifying paper.

Please complete a Philosophy MA Requirements form and return to the Philosophy adminstrative assistant in order to initiate the MA process with the Graduate School.

Students admitted for a terminal MA must complete the following:

  • 36 units of coursework, including at least 6 units in each of the three general categories of graduate surveys (theoretical, practical, historical), logic (either 301 or 405 or the graduate logic exam) and at least 6 units of seminars, including 3 units for the proseminar; 
  • 6 units of thesis preparation; and
  • an MA thesis, approved by a committee of three philosophy faculty, including the student's supervisor.

PNP MA Requirements

Students in the PNP PhD program have earned the MA once they have completed the following:

I. 36 units of coursework, including:

  1. 6 units of seminars including 3 units for Proseminar
  2. 3 units of logic (301, 405 or the graduate logic exam)
  3. 3 units in philosophy of psychology or philosophy of neuroscience or philosophy of mind
  4. 3 units in philosophy of language or epistemology or metaphysics or philosophy of science
  5. 3 units of value theory or history
  6. 6 units of empirical coursework/laboratory work (in psychology, biology or related areas)

II. 1 passed qualifying paper.

Please complete this PNP MA Requirements form and return to the Philosophy administrative assistant in order to initiate the MA process with the Graduate School.

Students admitted for a terminal MA must complete the following:

  • 36 units of coursework, including at least 6 units in each of the three general categories of graduate surveys (theoretical, practical, historical), logic (either 301 or 405 or the graduate logic exam) and at least 6 units of seminars, including 3 units for the proseminar; 
  • 6 units of thesis preparation; and
  • an MA thesis, approved by a committee of three philosophy faculty, including the student's supervisor.