The requirements for the PhD in Philosophy are designed to provide broad knowledge of the main areas of philosophy and to develop the ability to do philosophical research. Students should be able to finish the program in five years.

Graduate Program Requirements

Course Requirements
Graduate students must complete the following courses, at the graduate level, with an overall average of at least B+:

  • The Proseminar (in the Fall of the first year)
  • A logic course
  • 7 Research-Paper Courses that fulfill the distribution requirements below
  • 5 Non-Research Paper Courses
  • The Third-Year Paper Seminar
  • The Dissertation Seminar

Explanation of Course types
Students may elect to take any Rutgers Philosophy Seminar as either a Research-Paper course or a
Non-Research-Paper course (except for courses used to fulfill the logic requirement). Detailed
requirements for these are listed below.

5 Non-Research-Paper Courses: When a seminar is taken as a Non-Research-paper course, the student will not be required to complete a substantial research paper or equivalent. Instead, students will complete one written assignment, chosen at the discretion of the course instructor, and due by the end of the exam period. This assignment could be a 3000 word writing assignment or its equivalent. The student must also complete all other requirements for the course, including attendance, readings, participation, etc. The details are up to instructor discretion; the goal is that a course taken for non-research credit will require roughly half as much writing as a course taken for research credit, but that the students will keep up with the reading and participate fully in the course.

Students must inform instructor that the course will be taken as non-research-paper course prior to exam period. Instructors will assign grades at the end of semester. Non- Research-Paper Courses will not count towards distribution requirements.

7 Research-Paper Courses: When a student takes a seminar as a Research-Paper Course, the student will complete a traditional research paper or the equivalent, such as some combination of shorter papers or papers and presentations. Students must inform instructor that course will be taken as Research-Paper Course prior to exam period. Due date policies are determined by the instructor. These courses must satisfy the distribution requirements listed below.

  • Research-Paper Distribution Requirements
    •Two history seminars (typically, one pre-modern, one early modern).
    • One value theory course (normative ethics, metaethics; aesthetics; social, political, or legal philosophy; or applied issues in these fields)
    •Three seminars selected from three of the following subjects: (i) philosophy of mind, (ii) philosophy of language, (iii) metaphysics, (iv) epistemology, (v) one course in value theory, typically in a sub-area distinct from that taken to satisfy the value theory course, and (vi) philosophy of science

Third-Year Paper Seminar: In this seminar, each student will polish a single paper (perhaps previously drafted) into publishable form. The seminar is designed to facilitate completion of the Third-Year Paper requirement (listed below), and should be taken in the third year (normally in the fall semester). It is a “work-in-progress” seminar, similar to the Dissertation Seminar, in which students give feedback on each other’s papers. The instructor may recruit other faculty members to participate in some of the seminar meetings.

Dissertation Seminar: A dissertation seminar is offered in the Spring. Before actively pursuing a full-time teaching position, students are expected to enroll in the dissertation seminar at least once, but may take it as often as they like while writing the dissertation. Each week, the seminar will focus on a chapter from a different student’s dissertation. Although the faculty member leading the discussion and the other participants may not be experts in a given student’s field, they will be able to provide useful feedback of other sorts.The main goals of the seminar are: (i) to help students learn to write more clearly and (insofar as the subject matter allows) simply; (ii) to promote facility in explaining the central ideas of their research to philosophers who are not working in their area; and (iii) to convey general departmental and university expectations about the structure of a dissertation.

Courses at other Universities: With permission of the Graduate Director, students may take courses at other universities (there is a regular exchange with Princeton, NYU, Columbia And CUNY Graduate Center via the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium). With the approval of the Graduate Director, students may also receive credit for graduate courses taken prior to admission to the program (transferring no more than 8 courses, or 24 credits). Which sort of credit, and which distribution requirements, are fulfilled for by courses is determined by the Graduate Director on a case-by-case basis.

Additional Requirements:

Introductory Logic Requirement: It is expected that most incoming students will have taken symbolic logic courses that include translations between natural language and propositional and predicate logic, proof techniques (e.g., natural deduction or truth trees), and the basic concepts of metalogic (e.g., soundness and completeness). First year students without appropriate undergraduate coursework must demonstrate competence in these areas by the end of Fall semester, either by taking an exam, by enrollment in a logic course, or by other arrangement with the director of graduate studies.

Third-Year Paper: By end of Spring Semester of the third year, students must submit a Third-Year paper. This paper should be well polished, and of high enough quality to be published in a well-respected journal. This paper may be one written or begun previously, but it must see substantial revisions during the course of the third-year paper seminar (see above). Completion of this paper is a requirement for becoming a doctoral candidate. Final versions of this paper will be submitted to the instructor of the third-year paper seminar at the end of Spring semester of the student’s third year.

Dissertation Proposal Defense: The student forms a pre-dissertation committee of three members, to be approved by the director of graduate studies. With their guidance, the student selects a dissertation topic or project and can either write a review of literature relevant to that topic or a first chapter of the dissertation. After having also written a dissertation proposal, the student then meets with the committee for a proposal defense. Upon approval of the proposal by the committee the student advances to candidacy.

Research in Philosophy Credits: Students must sign up for 24 credits of “Research In Philosophy” following the completion of 48 credits of coursework.

Dissertation: The student forms a dissertation committee (approved by his or her advisor and the director of graduate studies) consisting of at least three Rutgers philosophers (at least two of whom must be regular members of the department; others may be associates of the philosophy department based in another Rutgers department such as linguistics, psychology, or classics); students are strongly encouraged to include additionally a committee member from another university. The dissertation is a substantial piece of research. It may consist of a number of papers on related issues, together with an introduction that describes the ways in which the topic of the papers are interconnected or linked with broader problems; or a more sustained book length treatment of a single issue. The dissertation must be successfully defended (all members of the committee must accept it).

  • Timetable for Satisfactory Progress:

    Year 1 At least 6 Rutgers courses taken, including 4 Research Papers, and coursework completed on schedule.
    Year 2 At least 12 courses taken and coursework completed on schedule; at least 8 of these courses must be research paper courses.
    Year 3 All course requirements (except Dissertation Seminar) completed by end of grading period, Spring semester. Third-Year Paper completed.
    Year 4  Dissertation proposal accepted by March 15.

Cognitive Science Certificate: Students enrolled in the RuCCS cognitive science certificate program will have the same requirements for their philosophy degree, with one exception.These students will be only be required to take 2 non-research courses, instead of 5. These students must also meet all the requirements for the cognitive science certificate as outlined by the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science.