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.
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.
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
Completion of the Philosophy and Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (PNP) PhD programs requires:
- Completion of required coursework.
- Completion of the Mentored Teaching Experience (MTE) requirement.
- Regular attendance at the department's Philosophy Colloquium.
- Completions of the department's colloquium requirement (see below).
- Completion and defense of a dissertation prospectus (typically during the 4th year).
- 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; please refer to the Graduate School's website for 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 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 course 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 students must complete 33 units of Philosophy coursework and 18 units of empirical coursework/laboratory 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 requirements 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 - Departmental Statement of MTE Policy.
Prospectus and Dissertation Requirements
All forms referenced here and required by the Graduate School can be found on the Graduate School website or the Philosophy Department Forms page.
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 five or six-person committee. The committee is comprised of at least three faculty members from the department, one member of WUSTL faculty from inside or outside the department, and at least one member from outside the department, from another WUSTL program or another university. Leading up to a doctoral dissertation the Dissertation Defense Committee Form is sent to and approved by the Graduate School. After the committee has been approved and at least 15 days before the defense, the defense can be scheduled. Title, date, time, location and a copy of candidate's CV should be sent to the departmental coordinator for use in defense scheduling.
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 administrative coordinator in order to initiate the MA process with the Graduate School.
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:
- 6 units of seminars including 3 units for Proseminar
- 3 units of logic (301, 405 or the graduate logic exam)
- 3 units in philosophy of psychology or philosophy of neuroscience or philosophy of mind
- 3 units in philosophy of language or epistemology or metaphysics or philosophy of science
- 3 units of value theory or history
- 6 units of empirical coursework/laboratory work (in psychology, biology or related areas)
- One passed qualifying paper
Please complete this PNP MA Requirements form and return to the Philosophy administrative coordinator in order to initiate the MA process with the Graduate School.