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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Doctor of Philosophy Graduate Degree Requirements

PhD Progress-to-Degree Checklist in Word format
PhD Progress-to-Degree Checklist in PDF format

    1. .


    The PhD degree requires a minimum of 81 credits of graduate-level course work, of which 18 must be in Dissertation (PHIL 603). Students must complete a logic requirement, demonstrate proficiency in a second language, complete the four course distribution requirements, and pass two comprehensive examinations, in our program these are extensive research projects — one in history (history paper) and one in the student’s area of specialization (literature review). Most students finish their doctoral degrees within 5 to 6 years. The graduate school imposes a limit of seven years for completion of the PhD degree.


    Time Table for Completing the PhD

        • Logic Requirement: by the end of year 2
        • Language Requirement: by the end of year 3
        • Distribution Requirements: by the end of year 2
        • History Paper Proposal: by the end of fall term of year 3
        • History Paper: by the end of winter term of year 3
        • Literature Review: by the end of fall term of year 4
        • Prospectus: by the end of winter term of year 4
        • PhD Dissertation: by the end of spring term of year 5

    Graduate Teaching Seminar

    During their first year of teaching, all PhD students working as GEs (Graduate Employees) are required to successfully complete the Philosophy and Teaching Seminar all three terms, for a total of three credits. MA students who are asked to teach during a specific term are required to successfully complete the Philosophy and Teaching Seminar that term, provided that they have not taken it previously. For example, if you previously GEd during winter term, and took the winter teaching seminar, you would still be required to be in the seminar for a fall or spring assignment, but not to repeat the winter seminar if you receive another winter assignment.


    Distribution Requirements

    Current Courses that Satisfy Distribution Requirements

    The distribution requirements can be satisfied by receiving a mid-B or better in the areas listed below. A single course may count toward each of three categories, but no more than once in a single category. For example, a course may count in a sub-disciplinary field such as metaphysics, and, at the same time, apply to both the history requirement and the traditions requirement.

    Field satisfaction will be determined by the Graduate Director, in consultation with the faculty member teaching the class, and this information will be posted in advance:

            1. Philosophical Traditions

              • Two courses from each of the four philosophical traditions that ground the diverse philosophical perspectives of the department (for those entering Fall 2009 and thereafter, one of the two courses in each of the traditions will be a pro-seminar — tradition offerings alternate years — taken within the first two years of graduate study)
                • Continental Philosophy
                • Analytic Philosophy
                • American Philosophy
                • Feminist Philosophy
            2. Historical Periods

              • One course from each of the four historical periods:
                • ancient and medieval
                • modern (16th, 17th and 18th century philosophy)
                • 19th century philosophy
                • 20th and 21st century philosophy.
            3. Subdisciplinary Fields

                • Two courses in each of three sub-disciplinary fields listed below.
                  • Society and Value – courses in aesthetics, social and political philosophy, and ethics.
                  • Knowledge, Rationality and Inquiry – courses in epistemology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of language.
                  • Metaphysics – courses in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of religion.
            4. ARNL: Asian, Race, Native American, Latin American

              • For those entering in Fall 2009 or thereafter, one course in one of the four ARNL requirement areas:
                • Asian Philosophy
                • Philosophy of Race
                • Native American Philosophy
                • Latin American Philosophy

          Transfer Credit for Distribution Requirements

          Subject to approval by the Director of Graduate Studies, a student may use transfer courses (i.e. graduate courses taken at another university) or graduate courses taken outside the Philosophy Department, as follows: (1) one course in each of the three sub-fields (the other one in each sub-field must be taken in the Department); (2) one course may be counted toward the history course requirement; (3) one course may be used under each of the four traditions (the other one in each tradition must be taken in the Department). However, in satisfying these requirements, the maximum number of transfer and/or outside the department courses that can be counted is five.

          Click here for Approval Form for Transfer Courses (pdf)


          Language Proficiency

          To graduate with an advanced degree in Philosophy from the University of Oregon, students must demonstrate proficiency in a second language equivalent to two years of study in that language at the college level. The language must be approved by the student’s advisor and should be relevant to the student’s philosophical interests. Proficiency may be demonstrated by:

              1. providing an official transcript which shows a passing grade in second-year language coursework (normally the 201, 202, 203 sequence; although second-year competency may also be demonstrated by passing a 300 level language course for which 203 is a prerequisite)
              2. successfully testing out (for more information on second-year language tests, contact the UO Testing Center at or 541-346-3230).

          MA on the Way to PhD

          When PhD students have completed both the distribution and language proficiency requirements, they are eligible to apply for an MA and are encouraged to do so. The Philosophy MA requirements for PhD students are the same as those for MA students, except that a PhD student is encouraged to apply for the MA as soon as possible after the MA requirements have been met (the Graduate School has a policy of not granting MA and PhD degrees at the same time, i.e. when the student has completed the Ph.D). Begin the “Application for Advanced Degree” process at

          NOTE: the deadline for applying for the advanced degree is the second Friday of the expected term of graduation. Please also note that PhD students doing a master’s in passing are no longer required to submit the old “Permission to Re-Register” form.


          Logic Requirement

          As a condition for advancement to candidacy in the doctoral program, the student must satisfy the logic requirement in one of four ways:

              1. Earning a grade of B or higher in PHIL 325 (Logic, Inquiry, and Argumentation);
              2. Earning a grade of B or higher in an advanced undergraduate logic course taken before entering the doctoral program;
              3. Completing (with a B or higher) an appropriate 4-credit reading and conference course (PHIL 605) in logic within the Philosophy Department; or
              4. Earning a grade of B or higher in a logic course offered by another UO department (e.g., mathematics or computer science). Courses taken for logic credit under 2.- 4. above must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

          Comprehensive Exams (Research Papers)

          The comprehensive examinations are passed by completing two substantial research papers under the supervision of faculty. Students are eligible for advancement to candidacy the term after completion of the comprehensives. Within two weeks of the student passing these examinations, the home department and the student must submit a report to the dean of the Graduate School recommending advancement to candidacy.

          Registration for the History Paper, Literature Review, and Prospectus

          When students write the History Paper, they may register for it once, for up to 5 research credits (PHIL 601). They may receive an incomplete once, which will be corrected the term following the term in which they have registered for it.

          Students may register once for up to 9 research credits (PHIL 601) for their Literature Review and are expected to complete the Literature Review in the term they have registered for it.

          Students may register once for up to 9 research credits (PHIL 601) for their Prospectus and are expected to complete the Prospectus in the term they have registered for it.

          1. .

          History Paper

          (click here for History Paper Certification form)

          History Paper Requirement. The history paper constitutes half of the comprehensive examination requirement of the Graduate School. The literature review constitutes the second half.

          The purpose of the history paper is to provide students with the opportunity to deepen and broaden their knowledge of and approach to main topics in the history of philosophy, and to produce a paper as an independent research project. Papers should be approximately 7000 words in length and make appropriate use of secondary literature (25 pages not counting bibliography and endnotes, 35 pages inclusive is the maximum).

          • Forming a Committee: After completing their coursework, students will be asked to form a committee of two philosophy faculty members, one of whom will serve as chair of the committee.
          • History Paper Proposal: Students will submit to their committee for approval a research project in the history of philosophy. The proposal should be no more than five pages long.
          • Registration for PHIL 601 Graduate Research: Following approval of the proposal, a student will register for Phil 601: Research for up to 5 credits. Students may only register for history paper credits once and may receive no more than one incomplete for history paper research. The incomplete will be changed to “P” on successful completion of the requirement. Once the proposal is approved, the student will work independently to complete a final draft of the paper during the term of registration for PHIL 601. If a student is not taking classes while researching and writing their history paper, the balance of credits should be taken as PHIL 605 Reading, and should not result in an incomplete at the end of the term even if the history paper is not completed.
          • Completion: Students should complete their history papers in no more than two terms.
          • Submission of the Paper: When the paper is complete, it will be submitted to the examining committee and reviewed.
          • Evaluation of the Paper: The committee will meet with the student to provide an evaluation of the paper. The paper will be accepted, accepted pending revisions, or rejected. If it is accepted pending revisions, the revised version of the paper will be evaluated again by the committee and accepted, accepted pending revisions, or rejected. If the paper is rejected at any point, then upon consideration by the Graduate Studies Committee and a two-thirds vote of the Faculty, the student will be asked to leave the PhD program.

          Topic Guidelines: The purpose of the paper is to lead students to deepen and broaden their knowledge of and approach to main topics in the history of philosophy. To that end, the paper will provide occasion for coming to an understanding of the development of philosophical traditions in their historical and cultural settings.

          Papers will consider some philosophical question formulated and debated in major works prior to 1980, or the work of one philosopher whose major works were published before 1980. Students should consider the intellectual—historical context of the philosopher or question and current relevant secondary literature. The paper can take a single tradition as its primary focus, but it should establish and assess this tradition’s interaction with other philosophical traditions as part of its historical development. Students may adopt a comparative approach (comparing figures or traditions with respect to a sufficiently precise topic), a broad intellectual historical approach (e.g., discerning the broader intellectual historical background for a problem shared by otherwise divergent traditions or figures) or a bridge-building approach (e.g. showing how a particular philosophical topic is addressed by tools and methodologies drawn from diverse philosophical traditions, figures, and/or periods). Depending on the topic, it may be important also to consider what it means to read philosophy in an historical context. The chosen topic may be, but need not be, related to the student’s planned area of specialization and field of dissertation research, though it should not be narrowly focused on the topic of the dissertation.

          History Paper Examples


          Literature Review

          (click here for Literature Review Certification form)

          Constituting your Dissertation Committee: Upon completing distribution requirements and passing the history paper comprehensive, students are to constitute their PhD dissertation committee (which needn’t include the outside member at this point) in preparation for their second comprehensive, a literature review in the Area of Specialization, in relation to the dissertation project. Each dissertation committee consists of a chair, who is the student’s advisor, and two readers from within the department. For the prospectus, a 4th member is added, this external member of the dissertation/thesis committee must be a member of the University of Oregon faculty not in the Department of Philosophy. The committee may also include other members from outside the University of Oregon at the discretion of the student and adviser and with the approval of the Department Head and the Graduate School.

          Sources: The students should work with their committee members to develop a list of 50-100 sources that will be important to their dissertation projects. Once this list is approved, the student will write a review of the literature, following these guidelines:

              • The completed literature review should be no more than 50 and no less than 30 pages long, double-spaced, 12 pt. font.
              • The review should be written in narrative style (i.e. the student should avoid simply handing in an annotated bibliography, though he/she may well complete such a bibliography in preparation for writing the literature review).
              • Each work that is addressed in the literature review should be discussed in terms of its relation to an articulated philosophical question or problem related to the area of the dissertation project, rather than simply summarized.
              • When the review is finished and the committee reads it, the student may be asked to do additional work on the review.

          Advancement to Candidacy for the PhD

          PhD students are eligible for advancement to candidacy the term after they have completed their comprehensives (i.e. after successfully completing the distribution requirements, history paper, and literature review). Within two weeks of the student passing these examinations, the home department and the student must submit a report to the dean of the Graduate School recommending advancement to candidacy.


          Selection of Adviser and Formation of Dissertation Committee

          The selection of the dissertation adviser should be made with the following considerations in mind: First, the adviser should have a research focus in the central area of the proposed topic. Second, the adviser should be someone that the student can work with. Third, the adviser has the responsibility for the reading and evaluation of initial drafts of the dissertation.

          The membership of the committee should be formed in consultation with the dissertation adviser, who can provide suggestions about the selection of core members and the institutional representative. Typically, other committee members will read a draft of (or parts of) the dissertation when the thesis adviser considers them to be ready for other committee members to see them and comment.

          Dissertation committees in the Department of Philosophy are proposed by the student and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.The dissertation committee typically consists of four members: The adviser and two “core” members who are regular members of the department, and one “institutional representative” from a department in the University other than the philosophy department. With approval according to the processes described below, and in accordance with the Graduate School’s Dissertation Committee Policy (, committees may include advisers or core members from departments other than philosophy or core members from outside the university.

          When the proposed committee is to include (1) a chair from the University of Oregon whose appointment is outside the Department of Philosophy, or (2) a University of Oregon faculty member not appointed to the Graduate Faculty, or (3) a “core” member from outside the University of Oregon, the member will be reviewed by the Department of Philosophy tenure-related faculty.  If the proposed member meets the Graduate School guidelines and is approved by the Department faculty in light of departmental guidelines, then the Department Head will forward the recommendation to the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School for final approval.

          Any member of the University of Oregon Graduate Faculty, including Department of Philosophy affiliate faculty, may serve as “core” committee members without review of the Philosophy Department faculty (in accordance with the Graduate School’s Dissertation Committee Policy).

          Process for approving UO faculty not appointed to the Graduate Faculty: University of Oregon faculty in the Department of Philosophy who are not appointed to the Graduate Faculty (e.g., non-tenure track faculty with “career” appointments) may request nomination to the Graduate School by submitting a letter of interest and a current curriculum vitae to the Department Head.  The Department Head will forward the request and curriculum vitae to the department’s tenure-related faculty who will consider the request.  Qualifications for nomination to the Graduate School include a PhD in philosophy, a record of ongoing and recent research in the field, and successful teaching. If the request is approved by a majority of the tenure-related faculty, the nomination will be forwarded to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for review.  (See the Graduate School procedures for NTTFs).  Once approved as a member of the Graduate Faculty in Philosophy, the nominee is permanently eligible to serve on dissertation committees following the graduate school guidelines.

          Process for approving dissertation chairs outside the Department of Philosophy or “core” members from another university: If a student wishes to request that a member of the UO graduate faculty outside the Department of Philosophy serve as chair of her or his dissertation committee or if the student wishes to include a faculty member from another university as a “core” member of her or his committee, the student will propose the committee to the Director of Graduate Studies.  The DGS will contact the relevant nominated member and request a letter of interest confirming the person’s willingness to serve on the committee and a current curriculum vita.  The DGS will present the nominee to the tenure-related faculty for consideration.  If the nominee is approved by a majority of the faculty, the Department Head will forward the nomination to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (following the Graduate School procedures).

          In general, the faculty will approve a proposed dissertation committee member if she or he (1) meets the Graduate School guidelines, (2) has demonstrated philosophical expertise in an area relevant to the proposed dissertation, and (3) has confirmed an interest in serving on the committee.



          The prospectus must be approved by the Philosophy Dissertation Committee members before the student will be authorized to register for PHIL 603 Dissertation.  The Prospectus and Prospectus Examination is a key step towards earning a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Oregon.

          After preliminary discussions with a thesis advisor, students should prepare a draft of the Prospectus and submit it to the thesis advisor.

              1. When the advisor and student agree that the Prospectus is ready for submission to other members of the Ph.D. committee, a version of it should be presented to them; committee members may request revisions of the Prospectus, and students should allow time for these revisions (in order to be in compliance with Departmental expectations).
              2. A Prospectus Examination should be scheduled (for about sixty minutes) in consultation with the thesis advisor and other members of the committee. The Examination is expected to be attended by the candidate and all of the members of the dissertation committee. It should be held only when the advisor and the committee members believe that there is a workable project, something they determine after their evaluation of a submitted draft of the Prospectus.

          Content: There are certain ingredients that a Prospectus must contain. Most importantly, there should be a problem that the Prospectus identifies and explains. To this end, the introduction to the Prospectus should include some motivation for addressing the problem, as well as an attempt at explaining, illustrating and clarifying what the problem is. The Prospectus also should try to make clear how the candidate intends to address that problem. It is not sufficient for the Prospectus to indicate that certain claims will be defended or attacked; it must be made clear how the candidate proposes to establish these claims or to illuminate them. To this end, a synopsis of each chapter is needed together with an indication of how the chapters are linked, why one chapters leads into another. A Prospectus should not be overly long, somewhere from seven to ten pages, not including the bibliography.

          Not only is the dissertation expected to be an original piece of work, something that would be reflected in what it has to say about the problem it addresses, but it is also expected to demonstrate the candidate’s familiarity with the relevant literature and his or her competence in providing critical readings of this literature. The candidate is expected to know the more influential and important writings on the problem the thesis is to address, and the Prospectus should reflect the fact that the candidate has plans to acquire that knowledge. To this end, the candidate should provide an extensive Bibliography appended to the end of the Prospectus.

          Prospectus Examination: The Prospectus Examination provides an opportunity for all of the members of the committee, including the outside member, to share their views of what needs to be done to strengthen the project; how it might need to be expanded or, as is more likely, narrowed in its focus. The concern is that the dissertation address a problem that can be handled adequately by the candidate in a reasonable amount of time. By accepting the Prospectus the committee agrees that the Prospectus presents a project suitable in content and scope for a dissertation.

          Dissertation Prospectus Approval Form (pdf)



          All candidates must submit a dissertation based on independent and original research. The dissertation must contribute significantly to knowledge, show a mastery of the literature of the subject, be written in acceptable literary style, and conform to the standards outlined in the University of Oregon Style and Policy Manual for Theses and Dissertations. Preparation of the dissertation usually requires the greater part of one or two academic years.

          Defense of Dissertation — A formal, public defense must take place at the University of Oregon at a date set by the committee chair and approved by the Graduate School. Tentative approval of the dissertation by the committee is recommended prior to formal defense. This evaluation is based on copies of the final manuscript, which the candidate provides for the dissertation committee at least seven weeks before the Dissertation Defense Date, unless all members of the committee approve of an alternative submission date. The dissertation must be approved by the committee as suitable for oral defense at least three weeks before the formal defense. Four copies of the dissertation abstract (350-word maximum) must also be filed with the Graduate School at this time. The time and place of the defense must be publicly noted. The dissertation committee must be present at the defense, and the chair of the committee must certify to the Graduate School within two weeks following the defense that the defense was held as scheduled.

          Completion of Dissertation – Within two weeks following the defense of the dissertation but before the dissertation is submitted in duplicate to the Graduate School, each member of the dissertation committee must confirm in writing either approval or disapproval of the final version. Approval requires a unanimous vote.

          NOTE: The “Application for Final Oral Defense” and “Confirmation of Agreement to Attend Final Oral Defense” forms at must be filed by week 5 of the expected term of graduation and no less than three weeks before the Dissertation Defense date. For additional information, see


          Leaves of Absence

          Doctoral students are eligible for a maximum of six academic terms of On-Leave status, regardless of reason, throughout the doctoral degree program. The online leave request form must be submitted on or before the last day to register for classes in the term for which leave is requested. On-Leave Request for Doctoral Students (log in to GradWeb)

          The time limit for program completion is not extended for an approved On-Leave request when taken for the following reasons:

          • Family emergencies
          • Independent research
          • Other

          An approved On-Leave request will automatically extend your time limit for program completion by the same number of terms of approved leave (e.g., an approved leave of one term will extend the time limit by one term) only for the following reasons:

          • The student’s serious health/medical condition
          • Parenting needs during the 12 months immediately following a child’s birth or placement in the home

          Criteria Used to Assess Satisfactory Progress

          The criteria used to assess satisfactory progress toward a graduate degree in Philosophy are detailed above: fulfilling requirements within the time-frame stated above. Deviation from the timeline should be discussed with the Director of Graduate Studies, who will generate and approve an academic plan toward retaining or restoring satisfactory progress and good standing.


          (1) Maintain a GPA of 3.3 or better (the GPA will be computed for course work meeting the requirements of the graduate degree);

          (2) at any one time, a student shall have no more than 9 credit hours of incomplete (excluding Thesis, Dissertation, and associated Research hours; all incompletes shall be completed before degree is awarded);

          (3) the number of courses taken toward the graduate degree on a P/NP basis shall not exceed 21 credit hours (excluding Thesis, Dissertation, and associated Research hours).

          Assessing Satisfactory Progress:

          The process for evaluating satisfactory progress toward graduate degree is as follows. The Faculty Committee will evaluate all graduate students for satisfactory progress toward degree annually in the spring term. This evaluation will be based on information provided by the Director of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Advisor (student’s thesis or dissertation director) if applicable, and other faculty who have taught or supervised the student.

          Failure to make satisfactory progress toward the graduate degree:

          Failure to make satisfactory progress toward the graduate degree jeopardizes the Graduate Employee position and places a block on future registration. Procedure to remedy will be implemented upon discussion between the student, the Graduate Advisor (if applicable), and the Director of Graduate Studies. Upon regaining satisfactory progress status, the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the Graduate Advisor will provide a written statement of recommendation about strength of work already completed and of support for the student’s new timetable for advancement and completion. Failure to remedy will result in disqualification from the department’s degree program.


          Graduate School Requirements

          In addition to specific Philosophy Department requirements, doctoral candidates must satisfy all Graduate School requirements, as specified in the Graduate Catalog and on their website. Students need to take particular notice of the Graduate School residency requirement:

          For the PhD degree the student must complete the equivalent of at least 81 quarter credits of graduate-level work over the course of at least three years. At least one academic year–the residency year–must be spent in residence at the University of Oregon after the student has been classified as a conditionally or an unconditionally admitted student in a doctoral program. During this year of residency the student is expected to make progress toward the degree by completing course credits and satisfying doctoral degree requirements. The residency year consists of three consecutive terms of full-time study, with a minimum of 9 completed graduate credits a term in the student’s major.

          A doctoral candidate may fulfill the residency requirement during the period in which he or she works toward a master’s degree at the University of Oregon as long as the student has been officially awarded the master’s degree, the doctoral degree program immediately follows the master’s degree program, and both the master’s degree and the doctoral degree are in the same discipline.

          Students working toward a PhD or professional doctorate must register for a minimum of 18 credits in Dissertation (PHIL 603). Credit for Dissertation is recorded P/N (pass/no pass).

          Ω Getting Ready to Graduate

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