Philosophy

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The School of History and Philosophy offers a wide range of advanced courses in the major areas within the field leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy degrees. Students are offered a diversified curriculum not dominated by one school of thought or method of approach. The broad range of specializations represented by the faculty exposes students to a variety of aspects of philosophy and, at the same time, permits them to concentrate on their own particular area of interest. Graduate-level courses in such allied fields as the natural and social sciences, the arts, linguistics, law, and women’s studies offer supplements to the philosophy curriculum.

Graduate courses in philosophy may be used as a minor in programs leading to the Master of Arts or Master of Science in Education degrees. Students who do not plan to continue work in philosophy beyond the master’s degree level are encouraged to elect a graduate minor or to combine philosophy with another subject in a 40-credit hour double major.

All graduate students in philosophy are expected to have some supervised experience in teaching basic work in the field, either through regular teaching assistantships or through special assignments. Opportunities for intern experience at area junior or community colleges are made available.

Admission

Admission to the philosophy graduate program requires the following:

  1. An online application form needs to be completed. A non-refundable application fee of $65 must be submitted with the application. This fee must be paid with a credit card.
  2. Official transcripts of each school attended to be sent to the School of History and Philosophy.
  3. A sample of written work, e.g., a term paper written for an undergraduate or graduate philosophy class, to be sent to the program's director of graduate studies.
  4. Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the student’s work should be requested by the applicant to be sent to the program's director of graduate studies.
  5. Graduate Record Examination verbal and quantitative scores are requested but not required to be submitted to the program. They are required for those applying for fellowships. TOEFL scores of at least 550 (paper score) or 220 (computer score) are required for all foreign students. These scores should be sent directly to the School of History and Philosophy. Scores for the Test of Spoken English are strongly recommended for foreign students applying for teaching assistantships.

The programs expect an applicant for admission to its graduate program to have had at least 15 credit hours in philosophy or closely related theoretical subjects, including at least one semester in ethics, one in logic, and a year in the history of philosophy. The program may waive a portion of this requirement in favor of maturity and of quality of breadth of academic experience. Applicants will be required to make up serious background deficiencies by taking appropriate undergraduate philosophy courses without credit.

Application for financial assistance is made by filling out a financial assistance form. Applicants for Graduate School and Morris Fellowships should send these applications to the School of History and Philosophy by February 1 of the academic year preceding that for which application is made. Applications for program graduate assistantships should be sent to the School of History and Philosophy by April 1 of that year.

Entry into the Ph.D. in Philosophy Program

There are two routes by which a student may enter the Ph.D. in Philosophy program. The standard one is by completion of an M.A. degree in philosophy at an accredited institution. There is also one alternative available in special circumstances.

Accelerated Entry

After at least one semester in residence, a student enrolled in the M.A. in Philosophy program may petition the program's faculty for accelerated entry into the Ph.D. in Philosophy program. Such entry is permitted only in special circumstances where a student has completed the equivalent of an M.A. in Philosophy degree at another institution or has exhibited some other special qualifications (e.g. papers and publications) for the research or creative activities of doctoral-level study.

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Philosophy

The M.A. in Philosophy degree program is designed both for students wishing to continue on for a Ph.D. in Philosophy degree and those who plan to receive a terminal master’s degree. For the latter students, a minor concentration of up to nine credit hours outside philosophy is permitted, subject to approval by the director of graduate studies. In order to receive the M.A. in Philosophy degree, the student must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Complete 30 credit hours of course work in philosophy or allied fields, six of which may be credited toward preparation of a thesis. Fifty percent of the course work must be at the 500 level or above. 
  2. Fulfillment of a formal logic requirement demonstrated in one of the four following ways:
    1. by having earned a grade of or better in an undergraduate course covering sentential calculus and first order predicate logic
    2. by having earned a grade of or better in PHIL 105 as an undergraduate at SIU
    3. by passing, with a grade of or better during one’s first year of residence, an examination covering sentential calculus and first order predicate logic
    4. by passing with a grade of or better PHIL 420 during one’s first year of residence
  3. Fulfillment of a language or research tool requirement. This may be accomplished by passing, with a grade of B or better, one of the following:
    1. A 488 language course. (Note: these courses are offered through the Department of Languages, Cultures, and International Trade at various times)
    2. An examination offered through the School of History and Philosophy.
    3. A Directed Readings course offered either by the Philosophy graduate programs (PHIL 591) or (subject to approval by the Graduate Director) another academic unit, in which a philosophic text is translated and a final piece of research is produced.
    4. The student may appeal to the Director of Graduate Studies:
      1. To produce a translation of a previously untranslated text or article under professional guidance, whether within or outside the Philosophy program.
      2. For special dispensation, having already demonstrated sufficient competence in a language or research tool.
    None of these options for fulfilling the language/research tool requirement count toward satisfying the 30 credit hour requirement, except the Directed Readings (PHIL 591).
  4. A written comprehensive examination of up to five hours in length, dealing with the formulations and solutions of the persistent problems of philosophy as treated by major thinkers, from Thales to the end of the 19th Century. Normally, this examination should be taken no later than at the beginning of one’s third semester of residence. Students who have incompletes older than one month may not sit for this exam. (Students are expected to make up incomplete grades within one month of completion of the course in which the incomplete was awarded.) The Graduate Committee may address special considerations. Students preparing for the exam should consult the Program’s Study Guide, available in the Graduate Secretary’s Office. The comprehensive exam will be offered once each year in the Fall Semester. The Comprehensive examination papers will be read by members of the Philosophy Faculty. These readers will submit to the Program’s Director of Graduate Studies a ‘high pass,’ ‘pass,’ ‘low pass’, or ‘fail’ recommendation. Students may petition the Graduate Director to retake the exam in the spring. A student may also petition the Graduate Director to complete a terminal M.A. in Philosophy. The Graduate Committee will make the final decision on petitions.
  5. Fulfillment of a research writing requirement by either of the following. In general, this requirement should be met no later than the end of one’s second year of residence.
    1. Presentation of an acceptable thesis, 50-75 pages in text length, to be written under the direction of a faculty member of the program. Six thesis credit hours is the maximum number of hours that can count for credit for the Master’s in Philosophy degree (paragraph A, above). A preliminary draft stating the thesis title, describing the problem to be investigated, the method to be used, the outline of the study, and a preliminary bibliography must be prepared in advance for the thesis advisor. An instruction booklet should be secured from the Graduate School or the Program Graduate Secretary, which specifies the proper form for these documents.
    2. For a terminal M.A. in Philosophy, the student may present three edited research papers, written in connection with graduate courses or seminars under three different individuals (whose prior approval must be obtained), to a special committee of three members, only one of whom may be an individual under whom the papers were originally written.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Philosophy

The Ph.D. degree in Philosophy is designed to prepare students for college teaching and for research in their field of study. In order to receive the Ph.D. in Philosophy degree the student must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Completion of 30 credit hours of work beyond the M.A. level including:
    Students, as part of their required coursework in the Ph.D. program, must take one course in each of the following areas as Course Distribution Requirements: Ancient/Medieval Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, 19th Century Philosophy, 20th Century Philosophy. The 19th and 20th Century Philosophy requirements must include one course taken in the American tradition and one course in the Continental Tradition.
  2. Demonstration of competence in formal logic in one of the following ways:
    1. By having met the logic requirement for the Master’s degree.
    2. By having earned a grade of B or better in an undergraduate course covering sentential calculus and first order predicate logic.
    3. By having earned a grade of B or better in PHIL 105 as an undergraduate at SIU.
    4. By passing with a grade of B or better, during one’s first year of residence, an examination covering sentential calculus and first order predicate logic.
    5. By passing with a grade of B or better, PHIL 420 during one’s first year of residence.
  3. Incoming doctoral students from other universities will be required to take the history comprehensive examination on the history of philosophy. This must be completed by the end of the first year of residence. Candidates who have already passed a comprehensive examination on the history of philosophy, or who have taken a range of courses in the history of philosophy may appeal to the Graduate Director to be waived from taking this examination.
  4. Each doctoral candidate must take a general preliminary examination after they have accumulated between 24 to 30 hours of credit beyond the Masters degree level and before they begin work on the dissertation. (Students who have current incompletes may not sit for this examinations: Students are expected to make up incomplete grades within one month of completion of the course in which the incomplete was awarded. The Graduate Committee may address special considerations.) Candidates should see the Graduate Secretary for a copy of the Program’s Study Guide, which lists recommended readings and study questions. The examination will cover the following areas:
    1. Ancient Philosophy
    2. Medieval Philosophy
    3. Modern Philosophy
    4. Nineteenth Century Philosophy
    5. Early Twentieth Century Philosophy
    This examination will consist of five sections, and students will write responses to five questions. The preliminary examination papers will be read by members of the Program Faculty who will submit to the Program’s Director of Graduate Studies a ‘high pass,’ ‘pass,’ ‘low pass,’ or ‘fail’ recommendation. Any student whose exam receives a simple majority of failing recommendations will have failed the exam, and any students whose exam receives simple majority of high passes or passes or of a combination will be deemed to have passed the exam. Students may petition the Graduate Director to retake the exam in the spring. The Graduate Committee will make the final decision.
  5. Fulfillment of a language/research tool requirement in one of the following ways:
    1. As indicated in the M.A. in Philosophy level requirements (paragraph I,C), for a second language in addition to that studied for the Master’s degree. The level of proficiency required is the same as the M.A. level and fulfilling the M.A. requirement counts as one of the two required.
    2. By showing greater proficiency in the same language that was used to meet the same requirements for the Master’s degree.
    3. By demonstrating a reading knowledge of one language as indicated in the M.A. in Philosophy level requirements and by completing, satisfactorily, at least two courses in a research related area, such as mathematics, history, archival work, editing, and so on, pursued outside the School at the graduate level. This option must be approved by the Graduate Director prior to being undertaken.
    Fulfilling these requirements does not count toward the completion of 30 credit hours of work beyond the M.A. level, unless the work is done as Directed Readings (PHIL 591).
  6. Admission to Candidacy – After 30 credit hours of course work have been completed, the logic and the language requirements have been fulfilled and the preliminary examinations passed, the Director of Graduate Studies (in the person of the Graduate Secretary) must file an Admit to Candidacy form with the Graduate School. This form is to be filed at least six months before the expected date of graduation. The student is responsible for seeing whether this form has, in fact, been filed. The student must have obtained the agreement of a faculty member to serve as dissertation director.
  7. Dissertation
    1. The dissertation director is responsible for selecting a dissertation committee for the student. The committee shall consist of five graduate faculty members, at least one of whom shall be from an SIUC graduate program outside the student’s academic unit. The program allows for the possibility of faculty from other institutions to serve on the student’s committee in addition to the requisite number of SIUC faculty. Once the dissertation director has been chosen and the committee formed, any subsequent changes to the dissertation directorship position must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. The appropriate change form must be sent to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval.
    2. In preparation for the writing of the dissertation, the candidate must have a prospectus review. The Director of the dissertation is responsible, in consultation with the candidate, for determining what appropriate background reading is necessary for beginning the dissertation and for the initial formulation of the project. The candidate will proceed to generate the prospectus. A prospectus should be approximately 10-20 pages in length; it should also include a proposed outline for the dissertation and a working bibliography. The Director of the dissertation will appoint a committee (four professors, including one from outside the program) that will convene for the review of the prospectus. The review will help the candidate in the final formulation of the project before proceeding with the writing of the dissertation. The committee members will fill out a comment sheet for the candidate.
    3. While working on the dissertation, the student must register for the course numbered PHIL 600. The student is to devote at least one academic year of full-time work to complete the dissertation and will register for 24 hours of dissertation credit (Students may sign up for from 1 to 16 hours of PHIL 600 per semester). For example, the student wishing to complete the dissertation in one year may register for 12 hours of dissertation credit for each of two terms. Students who have registered for 24 semester hours of dissertation credit and have not completed the doctoral dissertation are subject to the continuing enrollment requirement course number PHIL 601. Students are required to complete 24 credit hours of PHIL 600. The student may take only six of these 600-level credit hours prior to formal admission to candidacy, and only six of these credit hours will count towards the residency requirement.
    4. Students who have completed all but the dissertation requirements, but who have previously enrolled for the minimum number of research, thesis, or dissertation credit hours required of the degree, must enroll every semester for at least one credit hour until all degree requirements have been completed (Summer sessions exempt). Whether in residence or not, students are required to enroll in Continuing Enrollment (PHIL 601 - 1 credit hour per semester) if not otherwise enrolled. Concurrent registration in any other course is not acceptable. See the Graduate Catalog for more specific details, under heading GENERAL REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES.
    5. The candidate will do the required research and write the dissertation. There is no given length for a dissertation, but 150 to 250 pages is the average length of a philosophy dissertation.
    6. The candidate and the dissertation director should work together until the document is ready to receive critical input from the committee. When the dissertation director indicates that the dissertation is ready for defense, it shall be required of the dissertation director to submit to each committee member a copy of the dissertation for the members’ examination. This must be delivered at least one month in advance of the scheduled defense. The committee must then decide whether or not the dissertation is acceptable for defense.
    7. The candidate shall conduct an oral defense of the dissertation and related topics in the field before the dissertation committee. The oral defense is open to the public. Only the committee members vote or make recommendations concerning the acceptance of the dissertation and final examination. At the discretion of the dissertation director, guests may be permitted to ask questions of the candidate after the committee members have conducted the examination. A student will be recommended for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy only if the members of the committee judge both the dissertation and the performance at the final oral examination to be satisfactory. One dissenting vote is permitted.