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Philosophy

Graduate Degree Requirements

An undergraduate Major in philosophy is desirable for graduate study in philosophy, but it is not essential. However, students admitted with insufficient background in ethics or logic or the history of philosophy will be required to take courses in these areas without graduate credit.

Transfer course credit for previous graduate work in philosophy is possible.


Requirements for the Ph.D.

The Ph.D. Degree has three components:

  • Satisfactory completion of 48 hours (16 courses) of coursework in accordance with departmental distribution requirements (see below).
  • Submission of two satisfactory Qualifying Papers. (Students are subject to dismissal should either of the two qualifying papers be deemed unacceptable).
  • Presentation and defense of a doctoral thesis.

The distribution requirement necessitates that a student take at least one course in each of the following areas:

  • Philosophy of Language or Philosophy of Mind
  • Metaphysics or Epistemology
  • Ethics or Political Philosophy
  • Logic
  • History (Modern)
  • History (Ancient)

Note: The distribution requirement in Logic may be waived if a student demonstrates graduate-level competence by passing an examination in this subject after joining the program.

Of the remaining ten courses, two may be taken in another department, with approval of the Philosophy Department Graduate Studies Committee.

The Qualifying Papers must be submitted by the first working Monday of the November of the student's second and third year. Research and writing the first draft of a qualifying paper is expected to be a summer project. It is expected that students will submit a draft of the qualifying paper by the beginning of the Fall semester in which it will be formally submitted.

The purpose of the qualifying papers is to evaluate the student's ability to produce a "professional" quality paper. If a student has completed an MA in Philosophy elsewhere, he/she may submit (a reworking of) the dissertation.

Qualifying papers are evaluated by a faculty committee consisting of a director and one other reader. The director will be a faculty member agreed upon by the student, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and the faculty member. The second reader on the Committee will be assigned by the DGS in consultation with the director. There should be no faculty member examining both papers.

Students should seek a dissertation supervisor and form a committee with two other faculty members and submit a dissertation proposal, along with a "Dissertation Prospectus Approval" form.

Students should also complete an "Admission to Candidacy" form once they have completed all requirements but the dissertation.

For more information about graduation requirements see the Dissertation Guidelines at the Graduate Studies website.


Requirements for the M.A.

The M.A. Degree may be earned in one of two ways:

  • Satisfactory completion of 24 hours of coursework (8 courses) and submission and defense of a thesis. This route is not intended for candidates for the Ph.D.
  • Satisfactory completion of 30 hours of coursework (10 courses) and passing one qualifying paper.


Qualifying Papers


Purpose of the Qualifying Papers

The purpose of the project is to evaluate the student's ability to produce a "professional" quality paper. The paper may be the result of reworking a term paper from a course. If a student has completed a Master's degree in Philosophy elsewhere, he/she may submit it or a reworking of it. The research and writing for a qualifying paper is expected to be a summer project. The papers must be in two different areas of philosophy, as designated by departmental distribution requirements:

  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology
  • Ethics or Political Philosophy
  • Logic
  • History (ancient)
  • History (modern)

Quality

Students are subject to dismissal should either of the two qualifying papers be deemed unacceptable. It is therefore important to approach the task of writing these papers with a sense of the quality of work that is expected and how this may be achieved. The qualifying paper should provide strong evidence that the student is willing and able to produce publishable work. This means that the point of the paper could contribute to the ongoing literature on the topic covered. A possible contribution may be made in different ways. Three suggestions follow, although other approaches may be acceptable:

  • Present an argument dialectically among several writers and enter the discussion yourself with your own view.
  • Trace historically some idea which you refine or modify.
  • Provide an illuminating account of a philosopher's argument(s) or contention(s).

It is not acceptable to:

  • Simply review several books or articles on a given topic
  • Present different philosophers' claims or arguments concerning a specific point and merely opting for one of them.

Unacceptability generally lies in not demonstrating an ability to engage your own philosophical thinking in the ongoing discussion. It is not expected that coverage of the literature on the topic will be exhaustive. But the paper must exhibit a reasonable sampling of material, showing knowledge of how to penetrate the topic relative to what others have done and/or are doing.


The Proposal

The day two weeks before the last day of second semester classes is the target date for submitting a proposal for the qualifying paper to the Graduate Director. The proposal should include: a brief description of the project (at least several lines) and the name of the faculty member who has agreed to serve as director.


The Committee

Each paper will be evaluated by a faculty committee consisting of The Director and a Second Reader. The Director will be a faculty member agreed upon by the student, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the faculty member. The Second Reader on the committee will be assigned by the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the director of the project. There should be no faculty member serving on both papers.

The student is advised to make arrangements with the director of the paper about how the interchange between them shall work out as the composition of the paper progresses. Different professors may wish to do it different ways. A general understanding between director and student should be reached before the summer vacation period begins. With the approval of the director, topics may be modified or changed. Students changing topics must make sure that they do not write two papers in the same area.


Deadlines

The deadline for the first qualifying paper will be the first working Monday in November of the student's second year in the program. The second qualifying paper will be due by the same day in the student's third year.

It is our expectation that one or more drafts of the paper would have been submitted before the deadline and the final version would reflect responses to comments from members of the committee. (See below for deadlines on revised resubmitted papers.)


Evaluation

The members of the committee will evaluate the paper and independently submit to the Director of Graduate Studies a judgment on it, with comments and justification for the judgment. The paper can be evaluated as: "Pass," "Fail," or "Revise and Resubmit." For the paper to be passed both members of the committee must agree.

The deadline for resubmitting revised papers will be March 1st of the following spring semester, at which point the paper must be either passed or failed.

The faculty committee members may not inform the student of his/her evaluation until the Director of Graduate Studies or the Philosophy Department faculty releases the information. One failing vote is cause to bring the issue of the student's continuation in the program before the department as a whole.

Tulane University, Department of Philosophy, 105 Newcomb Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5305 philosophy@tulane.edu