Philosophy

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Undergraduate preparation in Philosophy is advisable. Students with a 3.00 junior/senior grade-point average (on a 4.00 scale) and with appropriate course backgrounds will be considered for admission. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces that are available for new students. Exceptions to the minimum 3.00 GPA may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests at the discretion of the program. The Philosophy Department no longer requires and does not take into consideration GRE scores for the evaluation of applications.

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

Students receive an M.A. degree as a part of their work for the Ph.D. The M.A. is awarded after successful completion of the qualifying exam, part of which serves as the master’s scholarly paper, and after acquiring the minimum 30 credits of courses.

Students awarded an M.A. will have met the following requirements:

  1. A minimum of 30 credits including at least 18 credits in 500-level courses.
    1. At least 18 credits must be in Philosophy.  (At least 12 of these credits must be in 400 and 500 level courses).
    2. 6 credits may be in a Graduate Minor.
  2. The submission of a qualifying examination portfolio, a portion of which serves as the master’s scholarly paper. The portfolio must be accepted by the qualifying examination committee and the head of the graduate program.
  3. Successful completion of the qualifying exam.

The department does not admit applicants for the terminal master's degree.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

A minimum of 30 credits in residence at Penn State is required. 18 of these course credits must be at the 500 level in Philosophy. In addition, at least 9 credits must be taken at the 600 level in Philosophy. Students typically take 50 credits of course work and 36 research credits. At the program’s discretion, students may take up to 15 non-Philosophy credits toward a doctoral minor.

The foreign language requirement for the Philosophy Ph.D. degree is satisfied either by passing department translation examinations in two languages other than English, or by passing one language examination and PHIL 512.

To earn the Ph.D. degree, doctoral students must also write a dissertation that is accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Titles  

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Philosophy and African American and Diaspora Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Philosophy and the Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. Applicants interested in the dual-title degree program may make their interest known on their applications to Philosophy. Students must apply and be admitted to the dual-title degree program in African American and Diaspora Studies prior to taking the qualifying exam. In addition to the admission requirements set forth by the Graduate Council and the Department of Philosophy, students will be admitted to the dual-title degree program in African American and Diaspora Studies by an admissions committee of African American and Diaspora Studies faculty and must meet the admissions requirements of the African American and Diaspora Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the African American and Diaspora Studies Bulletin page.

GPA and GRE Requirements

Applicants entering with only an undergraduate degree should have a junior/senior cumulative average of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale), and, where applicable, a minimum GPA of 3.50 for all graduate work previously undertaken. Exceptions to the minimum GPA requirement may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests at the discretion of the program. Each applicant must provide the scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within five years previous to the date of application that have already been provided for admission to the graduate major program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree in Philosophy and African American and Diaspora Studies, students must satisfy the Philosophy Ph.D. degree requirements listed in the Degree Requirements section. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in African American and Diaspora Studies, listed on the African American and Diaspora Studies Bulletin page. The minimum course requirements for this dual-title Ph.D. degree are as follows:

15 credits of course work related to African American and Diaspora Studies, all at the 500 or 800 level. Of these 15 credits, 9 must come from the required core course sequence in African American and Diaspora Studies:

Required Courses
AFAM 501Seminar in African American Studies3
AFAM 502Blacks and African Diaspora3
AFAM 503Sexual and Gender Politics in the African Diaspora3
Choose 6 elective credits from the list of approved electives maintained in the African American and Diaspora Studies program office.6
Total Credits15

Credits earned at other institutions but not used to earn a degree may be applied toward the requirements for a graduate degree, subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit.

Qualifying Examination

In accordance with Graduate Council policy, the qualifying examination committee must include at least one member of the African American and Diaspora Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role.

Because students must first be admitted to a graduate major program of study before they may apply to and be considered for admission into a dual-title graduate degree program, dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

The dual-title field must be fully integrated into the qualifying exam for the doctoral program. In addition, students in the dual-title Ph.D. in African American and Diaspora Studies will be required to present to their committee a portfolio of work in African American and Diaspora Studies which includes a statement of the student’s interdisciplinary research interests, a program plan, and samples of writing that indicate the student’s interest in questions taken up by scholars of African American and Diaspora Studies.

Ph.D. committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Philosophy and African American and Diaspora Studies dual-title doctoral degree student must include at least one member of the African American and Diaspora Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the Ph.D. committee is not a member of the Graduate Faculty in African American and Diaspora Studies, the member of the committee representing African American and Diaspora Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exams

The African American and Diaspora Studies Graduate Faculty member on the student's committee is responsible for developing and administering the African American and Diaspora Studies portion of the student's comprehensive exams. The exam must incorporate written and oral components in African American and Diaspora Studies based on the student’s thematic or regional area of interest and specialization in African American and Diaspora Studies. The African American and Diaspora Studies portion of the exam will include the following components:

  • broad history of the field,
  • contemporary theory and debates,
  • and either sexual and gender politics or
  • a topic related to the student’s specific area of interest.

Dissertation

The candidate must complete a dissertation and pass a final oral defense of that dissertation on a topic that reflects their original research and education in both Philosophy and African American and Diaspora Studies in order to earn the dual- title Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Philosophy and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Philosophy and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. Applicants interested in the dual-title degree program may make their interest known on their applications to Philosophy. Students must apply and be admitted to the dual-title graduate program in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies prior to taking the qualifying exam. In addition to the admission requirements set forth by the Graduate Council and the Department of Philosophy, students seeking admission to the dual-title program will be admitted to graduate study in CAMS by an admissions committee of CAMS faculty and the approval of the head of CAMS, and must meet the admissions requirements of the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies Bulletin page.

Applicants to this dual-title degree program should have an academic record that demonstrates expertise in a field relevant to ancient Mediterranean studies and proficiency at an intermediate level (e.g., 3 semesters of study) in one or more ancient languages. Prospective students seeking admission to this dual-title degree program are required to write a statement of purpose that addresses the ways in which their research and professional goals will reflect an interest in interdisciplinary research in the participating program and the disciplines and fields included in CAMS.

GPA and GRE Requirements

Applicants entering with only an undergraduate degree should have a junior/senior cumulative average of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale), and, where applicable, a minimum GPA of 3.50 for all graduate work previously undertaken. Exceptions to the minimum GPA requirement may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests at the discretion of the program. Each applicant must provide the scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within five years previous to the date of application that have already been provided for admission to the graduate major program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree in Philosophy and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, students must satisfy the Philosophy Ph.D. degree requirements listed in the Degree Requirements section. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, listed on the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies Bulletin page. The minimum course requirements for this dual-title Ph.D. degree are as follows:

  • 15 credits of CAMS-related coursework at the 400 or 500 level.

3 of these credits will come from CAMS 592. At least 3 credits will come from CAMS 593. The remainder may come from CAMS courses or courses relevant to the student's research interests, as approved by the student's doctoral adviser and the CAMS program director of graduate studies. Unless exempted by the student’s Ph.D. committee, at least 6 of these credits should be in an ancient language.

Language Requirements

In addition to advanced proficiency in one ancient language, students will be expected to acquire and demonstrate reading proficiency in those modern foreign languages (e.g., but not exclusively, French, German, Italian) appropriate to their research interests, as identified by their Ph.D. committee.

Qualifying Examination

In accordance with Graduate Council policy, the qualifying examination committee must include at least one member of the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role.

Because students must first be admitted to a graduate major program of study before they may apply to and be considered for admission into a dual-title graduate degree program, dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

The dual-title field must be fully integrated into the qualifying exam for the doctoral program. In addition, students in the dual-title Ph.D. in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies will be required to present a portfolio of work in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies which includes a statement of the student's interdisciplinary research interests, a program plan, and samples of writing that indicate the student's work in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies.

Ph.D. committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Philosophy and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies dual-title doctoral degree student must include at least one member of the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the Ph.D. committee is not a member of the Graduate Faculty in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, the member of the committee representing Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exams

The Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies Graduate Faculty member on the student's committee is responsible for developing and administering the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies portion of the student's comprehensive exams. The exam must incorporate written and oral components in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies based on the student’s thematic or historical area of interest and specialization in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies.

Dissertation

The candidate must complete a dissertation and pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) on a topic that reflects their original research and education in both the primary discipline and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies in order to earn the dual- title Ph.D. degree.  The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Title M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Philosophy and the Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. Applicants interested in the dual-title degree program may make their interest known on their applications to Philosophy. Students must apply and be admitted to the dual-title degree program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies prior to taking the qualifying exam. In addition to the admission requirements set forth by the Graduate Council and the Department of Philosophy, students will be admitted to the dual-title degree program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies by an admissions committee of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies faculty, and must meet the admissions requirements of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Bulletin page.

Students applying to the dual-title program must submit: a copy of the Graduate School Application originally submitted to the Philosophy Department; official transcripts from all previous course work; official GRE scores; a writing sample; a personal statement that describes how the dual-title degree program fits with their scholarly interests; and one letter of recommendation from a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies faculty member at Penn State.

GPA and GRE Requirements

Applicants entering with only an undergraduate degree should have a junior/senior cumulative average of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale), and, where applicable, a minimum GPA of 3.50 for all graduate work previously undertaken. Exceptions to the minimum GPA requirement may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests at the discretion of the program.

Degree Requirements for the Dual-Title M.A.

To qualify for the dual-title degree in Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, students must satisfy the Philosophy M.A. degree requirements listed in the Degree Requirements section. In addition to the Philosophy Department requirements, the minimum course requirements for this dual-title M.A. degree are as follows:

A total of 12 credits of course work in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Of these 12 credits, 9 must come from the required core course sequence in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Required Courses
WMNST 501Feminist Perspectives on Research and Teaching Across the Disciplines3
WMNST 502Global Perspectives on Feminism3
WMNST 507Feminist Theory3
3 credits chosen in consultation with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Graduate Officer.3
Total Credits12

Credits earned at other institutions but not used to earn a degree may be applied toward the requirements for a graduate degree, subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit.

One faculty member from Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies should be included on the master's committee. In addition, students should select a thesis topic that reflects their inquiry in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. In the event that the master's thesis requirement is waived by the Philosophy Department, students need to take three additional credits of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies course work and complete a master's paper on a topic approved by the student's committee.

Degree Requirements for the dual-Title Ph.D.

To qualify for the dual-title degree in Philosophy and Women’s Studies, students must satisfy the Philosophy Ph.D. degree requirements listed in the Degree Requirements section. In addition to the Philosophy Department requirements, the minimum course requirements for this dual-title Ph.D. degree are as follows: 

18 credits of course work in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Of these 18 credits, 9 must come from the required core course sequence in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Required Courses
WMNST 501Feminist Perspectives on Research and Teaching Across the Disciplines3
WMNST 502Global Perspectives on Feminism3
WMNST 507Feminist Theory3
Select 9 credits: at least 6 must be at the 500 level, and all of them must be chosen in consultation with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Graduate Officer.9
Total Credits18

Credits earned at other institutions but not used to earn a degree may be applied toward the requirements for a graduate degree, subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit.

Qualifying Examination

In accordance with Graduate Council policy, the qualifying examination committee must include at least one member of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role.

Because students must first be admitted to a graduate major program of study before they may apply to and be considered for admission into a dual-title graduate degree program, dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

The dual-title field must be fully integrated into the qualifying exam for the doctoral program. In addition, the student will be required to present a portfolio of work in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies to their committee. Such a portfolio would include a statement of the student's interdisciplinary research interests, a program plan, and samples of writing that indicate the student's work in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Ph.D. committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies dual-title doctoral degree student must include at least two members who are Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies-affiliated Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the committee representing Philosophy is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, a member of the committee representing Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exams

The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies affiliated faculty members on the student's committee are responsible for administering a comprehensive examination in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies that constitutes a portion of the student's comprehensive exams. The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies portion of the exam will focus on the following areas:

  • feminist theory,
  • feminist methodology,
  • global feminism, and
  • feminist studies in the student's discipline.
Dissertation

The candidate must complete a dissertation and pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) on a topic that reflects their original research and education in both Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in order to earn the dual- title Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.

Every student admitted to the department's Ph.D. program receives full assistantship or fellowship funding (stipend and tuition waiver) for five years (assuming reasonable progress). The department awards annually an Edwin Erle Sparks Fellowship in the Humanities. In the last several years, Philosophy graduate students have received numerous external national and international fellowships and awards (such as DADD, Fulbright, Javits, Mellon). Many Philosophy graduate students have received assistantship support for interdisciplinary teaching assignments in programs such as:

  • American Studies,
  • Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies,
  • Religious Studies, and
  • Women's Studies.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Philosophy (PHIL) Course List

Learning Outcomes

  1. Graduates will demonstrate command of and the ability to analyze historical philosophical ideas.
  2. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to elaborate new ideas in relation to contemporary issues.
  3. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to use research tools such as foreign languages and logic.
  4. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to clearly and effectively present their research in both oral presentations and in written formats using appropriate conventions of the discipline.
  5. Graduates will demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to the professional and ethical standards of scholarly and professional work in philosophy.

Contact

Campus University Park
Graduate Program Head Amy Rebekah Allen
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Leonard Richard Lawlor
Program Contact

Michael A Maes
234 Sparks Building
University Park PA 16802
mam6874@psu.edu
(814) 865-4485

Program Website View