Course Requirements

The Course Requirement has seven parts concerning: (a) the number of required courses, (b) the distribution of required courses, (c) the logic requirement, (d) required progress, (e) policies concerning incompletes, (f) grades, and (g) transfer credits.

a. Number of required courses

Students must complete at least thirteen courses in their first two years of study: the first year seminar and twelve graduate courses.

First-year students must enroll in the first-year seminar. Its exact organization and scheduling of the first-year seminar varies from year to year according to the instructor's discretion. It is graded on a pass-fail basis.

In addition, twelve graduate courses must be completed with a grade of B or better.

  • at least ten of these courses must be in the Philosophy Department listings;
  • reading and research courses do not count among these twelve classes
  • at least one must be a graduate seminar in Philosophy

b. Distribution of required courses

Students are required to take one course in each of the following three areas of contemporary philosophy:

  • Value theory (listed in the course descriptions as I)
  • Philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and logic (listed in the course descriptions as II)
  • Epistemology and metaphysics (listed in the course descriptions as III)

and three courses on the history of philosophy as follows:

  • A figure or movement in either Ancient or Medieval Philosophy (listed in the course descriptions as IV)
  • A figure or movement in Modern Philosophy from the 17th through 19th centuries (listed in the course descriptions as V)
  • One additional course on a figure or movement in either IV or V.

It should be noted that not all graduate courses satisfy a field distribution requirement; those not classified in the published course descriptions as belonging to I-V cannot be used to satisfy the distribution requirement. Nor can Philosophy 30000 (Elementary Logic) be used to satisfy a field distribution requirement.

c. Logic requirement

There is a requirement in logic that can be satisfied in several ways.

  • By passing Philosophy 30000 (Elementary Logic) with a grade of B or higher.
    Philosophy 30000 is offered every Autumn quarter. It counts toward the twelve course requirement but does not satisfy the field II distribution requirement.
  • By passing a course equivalent (or better) to Philosophy 30000 (Elementary Logic), at another institution or in another department at Chicago, with a grade of B+ or higher. the equivalence of the course in question to Philosophy 30000 will be determined by the instructor in Philosophy 30000 in the year in question, on the basis of an interview with the student, and such evidence as the syllabus for the course, the textbook for the course, and any other course materials which the student can provide. Note that satisfying the logic requirement in this way will count neither towards one of the twelve required courses nor towards satisfying the field II distribution requirment.
  • By passing an advanced graduate course in logic with a grade of B or higher.
    Passing an advanced graduate course in logic would both satisfy the logic requirement and count towards the field II distribution requirement.

d. Required progress

Courses must be completed, with a grade of B or better, according to the following timetable.

  • two courses should be completed by the beginning of the winter quarter of the first year
  • four courses (at least three in the Philosophy Department) should be completed by the beginning of the third quarter
  • six courses should be completed by 30 September of the second year
  • ten courses should be completed by the end of the fifth quarter
  • all thirteen courses (twelve plus the first year seminar) must be completed by 30 September following the sixth quarter.

In addition to this timetable, students should keep in mind that because they are expected to be working on their Preliminary Essay over the summer following their sixth quarter, they would be ill-advised not to have their course requirements completed by the early part of the summer.

e. Incompletes

At the discretion of the instructor, coursework not completed on time may be regarded as an "incomplete." This means that the instructor will permit a student to complete the work for a course after the normal deadline.

The instructor sets the time period for completion of the incomplete, subject to the following limitation: all coursework must be submitted by September 30th following the quarter in which the course was taken in order to count toward fulfillment of the requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. This date is an absolute deadline and is not subject to further extensions by individual faculty members.

Note: Students in their first year in the program are not permitted to take any incompletes in their first quarter.

f. Grades

Satisfactory grades for work toward the Ph.D. in philosophy are A, A-, B+, and B.

For Philosophy faculty, those grades mean the following. A: pass with distinction; A-: high pass; B+: pass; B: low pass.

g. Transfer Credits

The following policy applies to the Philosophy PhD program. Special requirements of joint programs take precedence over this policy.

  1. Of the required 12 graduate courses, no more than 2 can be taken at the University, but outside the Philosophy Department.
  2. Of the required 12 graduate courses, no more than 3 can be transferred from other institutions.
  3. Of the required 12 graduate courses, at least 9 must be taken within the Philosophy department’s course offerings.
  4. Only courses taken while enrolled in a doctoral program in Philosophy can be counted towards the required 12 graduate courses.

For example, a student might transfer 2 courses from another institution and take one course from another department within the University, with the remaining 9 courses taken within the philosophy department.  Or a student might transfer 3 courses from another institution, with the remaining 9 courses taken within the philosophy department.
  Students wishing to obtain credit for graduate courses taken from the listings of other departments within the University toward the required 12 courses do not need to petition the department, within the two-course limit specified above.

Students wishing to obtain transfer credit for courses taken at other institutions must petition the Graduate Program Committee. Students should be prepared to provide evidence in support of their transfer application at the request of the Committee. Such evidence may include course descriptions, syllabi, assignments, written work completed for the course, and so on.  Students who are transferring from other graduate programs must make such a request upon their entry into the Philosophy Department. Students who take a course at another institution while enrolled in the PhD program should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies beforehand, but must still petition the Graduate Program Committee to have the course accepted for transfer credit upon completion of the course.
Note that elementary logic courses taken outside the department may fulfill the elementary logic requirement but may not be used to meet the 12 course requirement. See “Logic Requirement” above for further details.