The Cooperative Program in Philosophy and Linguistics

Certain forms of serious work in the philosophy of language require of philosophers that they be conversant with certain forms of current research in linguistics, especially where those forms of research bear directly on claims set forth by philosophers of language.  A student who wishes to specialize in the relevant areas of philosophy of language therefore ought to have a firm grounding in the relevant basics of the discipline of linguistics as well.  Since both the Departments of Linguistics and Philosophy each have their own exacting and distinct standards of disciplinary training, we deem it inadvisable for most students to pursue a joint PhD -- i.e., 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 Ph.D. program in Linguistics or in the Ph.D. program in Philosophy but will also 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 Semantics and Philosophy of Language Workshop.


Faculty of the Cooperative Program in Philosophy and Linguistics

The faculty of the Cooperative Program consists of two sorts: (1) faculty from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago, and (2) faculty from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago.

Faculty at the University of Chicago affiliated with the Cooperative Program and regularly engaged in the teaching of relevant courses:

Karlos Arregi (Linguistics) - Link
Jason Bridges (Philosophy) - Link
James Conant (Philosophy) - Link
Kevin Davey (Philosophy) - Link
David Finkelstein (Philosophy) - Link
Itamar Francez (Linguistics) - Link
Anastasia Giannakidou (Linguistics) - Link
Chris Kennedy (Linguistics) - Link
Gregory M. Kobele (Linguistics) - Link
Michael Kremer (Philosophy) - Link
Jason Merchant (Linguistics) - Link
Josef Stern (Philosophy) – Link
Malte Willer (Philosophy) – Link
Ming Xiang (Linguistics) – Link

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Requirements for the Cooperative Program in Philosophy and Linguistics

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 Cooperative Program. These are distinct from the requirements that apply to PhD students in the Department of Linguistics who wish to enroll in the Cooperative Program. These are specified here [forthcoming].  

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 Cooperative 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 Linguistics Department), in the logic requirement, in the grade required to pass the language requirement, and in the total number of required courses.  Below you will find a complete list of the requirements with those special to the Cooperative Program highlighted in boldface.  Please contact Malte Willer 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-level courses must be completed with a grade of B or better. Of these twelve courses:

  • at least ten 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
  • 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
  • two are elective courses which may be offered either by the Philosophy Department or by another department.

In addition, students in the Cooperative Program:

  • must complete four graduate-level courses in Linguistics prior to graduation, with those courses being distributed as specified below; two of the four required Linguistics courses may also count toward the elective component of the initial twelve-course requirement, if taken during the first two years of the program.

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 philosophy 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.

In addition, students in the Cooperative Program must complete four graduate-level courses in Linguistics prior to graduation and these must be distributed as follows:

  • a two-course sequence from one of three "foundational sequences" in phonology, syntax or semantics/pragmatics (descriptions of which can be found here)
  • a graduate seminar in Linguistics in the same area as the foundational course (so phonology, syntax or semantics) already taken by the graduate student
  • one additional course in any area offered by the Linguistics Department.

Any course co-listed in both the Philosophy and the Linguistics Departments may be counted towards satisfying either the Philosophy or the Linguistics component of the Cooperative Program’s total course requirement, but not both. At most two of the four required Linguistics courses may count towards the overall Philosophy Course Distribution, and then only if taken in the first two years. This means that in order to satisfy the total course requirement for the Cooperative Program, a graduate student in Philosophy must complete at least two courses beyond the number normally required to satisfy the standard course requirement for a PhD in Philosophy.

c. Logic requirement

The requirement in logic for students in the Cooperative Program can be satisfied in any of the following ways:

  • By taking and passing Elementary and Intermediate Logic with grades of A- or higher.
  • 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 A- 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.) And then going on to take and pass Intermediate Logic with a grade of A- or higher.
  • By passing any advanced graduate course in logic with a grade of A- or higher.
  • Note: passing an advanced graduate course in logic both satisfies the logic requirement and counts towards the field II distribution requirement for the Philosophy Ph.D.

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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
  • four courses in Linguistics, distributed in the manner specified above, completed prior to graduation.

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 philosophy of language must pass the Departmental or University exam in a foreign language with a "High Pass".
Such students may take the Departmental exam in a particular language a maximum of three times (as opposed to two times, which is the rule for other Philosophy graduate students). 


Preliminary Essay, Topical, and Dissertation

Requirements for students in the Cooperative Program are the same as for students in the standard Philosophy PhD track with the exception that the Preliminary Essay and Dissertation must each be on a topic in philosophy of language.


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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
  • Logic requirement 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

Prior to graduation:

  • Four courses in Linguistics as specified above

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 Affiliated with the Cooperative Program in Philosophy and Linguistics:

Department of Linguistics
Linguistics and Philosophy Workshop

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