The Joint Program in German Philosophy

The serious study of German philosophy requires that scholars be able to read philosophical texts in their original language and situate them in their broader intellectual, historical, and cultural context.  A student who wishes to specialize in German philosophy therefore ought to have firm grounding in German language, history, and literature.  Since both Germanic Studies and Philosophy have exacting and distinct standards of disciplinary training, we deem it inadvisable for most students to pursue a joint PhD, the sort of degree which would equip them to be hired in either sort of department.  Instead, we have sought to establish a cooperative program, one in which students will enroll either in the PhD program in Germanic Studies or in the PhD program in Philosophy but will be required to take certain courses in the department in which they are not enrolled.  The program is a cooperative program in the sense that the faculty of both departments are committed to training students in the other department in the ways specified below and in the sense that the students in both programs will develop a working relationship with each other, through participation in seminars. as well as in the new German Philosophy Workshop and in events organized by the Chicago Area Consortium on German Philosophy.The Joint Program is also designed to help create and facilitate opportunities for graduate students who wish at some point during their graduate career to spend some months studying German Philosophy at a German university.

Faculty of the Joint Program in German Philosophy

The faculty of the Joint Program consists of two sorts: (1) faculty at the University of Chicago who regularly teach courses and seminars and supervise dissertations on topics in German Philosophy and (2) faculty at German universities who have a close relationship with the Departments of Germanic Studies and Philosophy at the University of Chicago, come frequently as visitors to Chicago, and are available as intellectual resources to students enrolled in the Joint Program.

Faculty at the University of Chicago Affiliated with the Joint Program & Regularly Engaged in the Teaching of German Philosophy:

Dan Brudney (Philosophy) - Link
James Conant (Philosophy) - Link
Arnold Davidson (Philosophy) - Link

Hans Joas (Social Thought) - Link
Michael Kremer (Philosophy) - Link
Brian Leiter (Law School) - Link
Jonathan Lear (Social Thought & Philosophy) - Link
Robert Pippin  (Social Thought & Philosophy) - Link
Robert Richards (History & Philosophy) - Link 
Eric Santner (Germanic Studies & Jewish Studies) - Link
David Wellbery (Germanic Studies & Social Thought) - Link 1 and Link 2
Christopher Wild (Germanic Studies) - Link

Faculty at Universities in Germany and Switzerland Affiliated with the Joint Program:

Gunter Abel, Technische Universität, Berlin - Link

Jonathan Beere, Humboldt Universität - Link
Michael Forster, Humboldt Universität - Link

Logi Gunnarsson, Universität Potsdam - Link   

Johannes Haag, Universität Potsdam - Link

Andrea Kern, Universität Leipzig - Link

Christoph König, Universität Osnabrück - Link

Albrecht Korschorke, Universität Konstanz - Link

Christoph Menke, Universität Frankfurt - Link

Sebastain Rödl, Universität Basel - Link

Pirmin Stekeler, Universität Leipzig - Link


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Units Affiliated with the Joint Program in German

Requirements for the Joint Program in German Philosophy

The remainder of this page is concerned to outline the requirements for those PhD students in the Department of Philosophy who wish to enroll in the Joint Program. These are distinct from the requirements that apply to PhD students in the Department of Germanic Studies who wish to enroll in the Joint Program.

Please note that, in addition to the Department's requirements, the Humanities Division also has requirements for the Ph.D. They are given on page 57 of the current year's University of Chicago Graduate Programs in the Divisions: Announcements and the Humanities Division's online catalog page.

The requirements for Philosophy students in the Joint Program are in many ways the same as those for students in the regular Philosophy Ph.D. program.  Differences are found in the distribution of courses (some must be courses listed in the German Department) and in the language requirement.  Below you will find a complete list of the requirements with those special to the German Philosophy Program highlighted in boldface.  Please contact James Conant with any questions.

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Please use the subnavigation links below to view the required components of the Joint Program in German Philosophy.

Course Requirement

Foreign Language Exam

Preliminary Essay, Topical, and Dissertation

The Placement Workshop

Summary of Time Expectations

Annual Evaluations

Course Requirement

The Course Requirement has six 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, and (f) grades.

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. This is a year-long course that has generally met in past years four or five times a quarter, although its exact organization and scheduling 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;
  • at least two of these courses must be graduate-level courses in the German Studies Department (i.e., they must be listed or co-listed as Germanic Studies courses)
  • reading and research courses do not count among these twelve classes
  • at least one must be a graduate seminar in Philosophy
  • Participation in a Workshop can count at most for one course toward the 12 course requirement, and only at the discretion of the faculty director(s). Workshops do not fulfill field distribution requirements.

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 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.

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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 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 or earlier.

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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.

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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.


Foreign Language Exam

Any student intending to write a thesis on a topic in German philosophy must pass the Departmental or University exam in German with a "High Pass".
Such students may take the Departmental exam in German a maximum of three times (as opposed to two times, which is the rule forthe other Philosophy graduate students). 


Preliminary Essay, Topical, and Dissertation

Requirements are the same as for students in the standard track with the exception that the Preliminary Essay and Dissertation must be on a topic in German philosophy.

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The Placement Workshop

This workshop is for Philosophy Ph.D. students who are planning on seeking an academic job as a philosophy professor. The workshop is taught by the Placement Director, with the assistance of other members of the departmental faculty. It is designed to help students to complete and polish all the required components of a job dossier and to provide other sorts of preparation for going on the academic job market. For more information on the Placement Workshop, please click here.

Summary of Time Expectations

By the end of the sixth quarter (normally, the second year):

  • Eleven courses plus first year seminar completed
  • Preliminary essay topic proposal completed
  • Language exam completed.

By the first day of the eight quarter (normally, winter quarter of the third year):

  • Preliminary essay completed.

By the end of the ninth quarter (normally, spring of the third year):

  • A first tentative draft of a Dissertation Sketch submitted and a preliminary meeting with the potential committee held.

By the beginning of the tenth quarter (normally, fall of the fourth year):

  • A final Dissertation Sketch, including the schedule and format for the approved, following a meeting with the dissertation committee.

By the beginning of the eleventh quarter (normally, winter of the fourth year):

  • Topical passed.
  • At this point the student is admitted to candidacy for the Ph. D.

By the end of the fourteenth quarter (normally, winter of the fifth year):

  • The student should have completed enough material to be competitive for dissertation year fellowships: at least one chapter of the dissertation and enough material blocked out to give advisors reason to believe that the thesis can be completed by the beginning of the student's seventh year.

The end of the fifteenth quarter (normally, spring of the fifth year):

  • Century fellowships, hence, guaranteed funding, expires.

Students who do not meet the above expectations may not be permitted to continue in the program.

  • Prior to the fall quarter in which they wish to go on the job market, graduate students must enroll in The Placement Workshop.

Units Affilliated with the Joint Program in German:

Committee on Social Thought

German Philosophy Workshop

Chicago Area Consortium in German Philosophy

Department of Germanic Studies

The Institute for Philosophy at the University of Leipzig 


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