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All courses, faculty listings, and curricular and degree requirements described herein are subject to change or deletion without notice. Updates may be found on the Academic Senate website: http://senate.ucsd.edu/catalog-copy/approved-updates/.
The department offers programs leading to the MA and PhD. It is the intention of the graduate program to enable the student to obtain an understanding of diverse traditions and to develop as a philosopher in his or her own right. To this end, the department offers courses and seminars in the history of philosophy and in traditional and contemporary philosophical issues, from a variety of perspectives.
Doctoral Degree Program
Over the first two years, students will normally take at least three courses per quarter, of which at least two are philosophy seminars (numbered 200–285). The balance may be made up from additional graduate courses in philosophy, up to two independent studies in philosophy, upper-division courses in philosophy (those numbered 100–199), approved upper-division or graduate courses in related departments, and, if the student is a teaching assistant, Philosophy 500 (Apprentice Teaching). In any case, before advancing to candidacy, students must have completed fourteen graduate seminars, twelve of which are graduate philosophy seminars.
In fall quarter of their first year of residence, graduate students will take a proseminar designed to introduce them to philosophical methods and improve their skills at writing and analysis. Enrollment in the proseminar is limited to first-year students. The proseminar may be team-taught. The topics to be covered will address some central area or areas of philosophy and will vary from year to year. The proseminar is a regular four-unit seminar.
In the following areas, the department shall offer “core” or advanced introductory seminars: philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, the history of philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and political philosophy. The department shall offer at least three of these courses in each academic year. Students must take two of these core courses by the end of their second year of residence. Courses taken to satisfy this requirement may be applied toward the distribution requirement.
Core courses are not necessarily distinguished by the numbers under which they are offered, but by their content. A core course provides a point of entry into a field that is suitable for graduate students with no prior work in this area of philosophy as well as students with some background knowledge. A core course may be a general survey of a field, or alternatively may take up some central, relatively nonspecialized topic. (Though core courses are intended to provide students with an entry point into particular philosophical topics, students are welcome to supplement the graduate core courses with upper-division undergraduate philosophy courses—those numbered 100–199—which are often organized as surveys.) A core course may offer students the option of writing shorter papers rather than one long seminar paper; in some cases a final examination may be offered. The decision whether to count a course as core will be made by the instructor in consultation with the graduate adviser.
Before advancing to candidacy students must have completed nine graduate seminars in philosophy (in addition to the proseminar) distributed across the subfields of philosophy listed below. Students must take three seminars in the history of philosophy (including one in ancient philosophy and one in modern philosophy), two seminars in two other areas, and at least one seminar in every area:
- History of Philosophy
- Philosophy of Science
- Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Language
- Ethics and Political Philosophy
- Metaphysics and Epistemology
Courses used to satisfy a requirement in one category cannot be used to satisfy a requirement in another category. The determination as to what category or categories a particular seminar taught in a given quarter may count toward is normally made by the seminar instructor.
In their first year of residence, all graduate students must demonstrate proficiency in basic formal logic (the predicate calculus, up to and including functions, relations, and identity) either by passing an examination in this material (normally offered each fall and often in spring) or by taking Philosophy 120 (Symbolic Logic) during their first year of study and achieving a grade of B+ or better. By the end of their second year of residence, all students must pass an advanced logic course (Philosophy 122, 123, 126, 222, or another logic class approved by the graduate adviser).
Third Year Essay Requirement
During the third year each student shall write an original research essay of about 7,500–9,000 words under the supervision of the student's third-year committee, which is responsible for determining that the research essay meets the necessary standards of philosophical sophistication. The intent of the requirement is to demonstrate that the student has acquired the skills necessary for exploring a philosophical problem and addressing it in a polished essay that is more substantial and sustained than is typical in the writing of papers for graduate seminars. It is intended that the student will complete this requirement during his or her third year of residence; in any case, the student must satisfy this requirement before advancing to candidacy.
Research Skills Requirement
Before advancing to candidacy, students will normally be required to demonstrate competence in a skill outside philosophy but relevant to his or her dissertation research.
Which skill is appropriate will be decided by the student in consultation with his or her first- or second-year advisers and the graduate adviser. Examples of ways in which students may satisfy the skills requirement include demonstrating competence in a foreign language relevant to their research (e.g., Classical Greek, Latin, French, or German, for students working in the history of philosophy); passing three upper-division undergraduate or graduate-level courses in biology, physics, mathematics, or linguistics (for students working in the philosophy of biology, physics, mathematics, or language); passing three upper-division undergraduate or graduate-level courses in political science, economics or sociology (for students working in political philosophy or ethics).
Specific decisions about the satisfaction of this requirement will be made on a case-by-case basis by the graduate adviser and the student's advisers, and will be made on grounds of the intellectual relevance of the proposed research skill and the needs of the student.
Independent Study Courses
Philosophy 290 (Directed Independent Study) is appropriate for a graduate student still in the process of fulfilling course requirements for the degree. However, this course will not normally be approved for students in the first year of the program, and will not normally count toward the satisfaction of distribution requirements.
Philosophy 295 (Research Topics) is an appropriate course for a student in the process of working towards a dissertation prospectus.
Philosophy 299 (Thesis Research) is appropriate for a student working on his or her dissertation.
Participation in undergraduate teaching is one of the requirements for a PhD in philosophy. Students are required to serve as a teaching assistant for (at a minimum) the equivalent of one-quarter time (ten hours per week) for three academic quarters. The duties of a teaching assistant normally entail grading papers and examinations, conducting discussion sections, and related activities, including attendance at lectures in the course for which he or she is assisting.
Dissertation Prospectus and Oral Candidacy Exam
Sometime after completing the distribution requirements, the student must submit a dissertation prospectus to his or her doctoral committee. The committee will then orally examine the student on the intended subject and plan of research. The examination will seek to establish that the thesis proposed is a satisfactory subject of research and that the student has the preparation and the abilities necessary to complete that research. This oral qualifying exam must be passed before the end of the fourth year of study (twelfth quarter of residence). Students who are passed and have met the other requirements will be advanced to candidacy for the PhD.
Under the supervision of a doctoral committee, each candidate will write a dissertation demonstrating a capacity to engage in original and independent research. The candidate will defend the thesis in an oral examination by the doctoral committee.
First and Second Year Academic Advising
After consultation with the graduate adviser, each entering student will be assigned a faculty adviser. Students are encouraged to meet with their faculty advisers once a quarter during their first two years to plan their course of study and review their progress in the program. Students may change their faculty adviser after one has been assigned. Advising duties will shift to the third-year committee in the student's third year of study, and then to the dissertation committee once the student begins the dissertation.
Third Year Academic Advising
At the end of the student's second year of study, the department will appoint a three-member faculty committee for that student. The composition of the committee will reflect the student's preferences and the area of philosophy in which the student is inclined to do dissertation work. One of the members of the committee will be designated as the committee chair, and will serve as the student’s main adviser. The committee will meet, at a minimum, once in the spring of the student’s second year of study, once in the fall of the student’s third year, and once in the spring of the student’s third year. The responsibilities of the committee include advising the student in developing a sound dissertation project, the acquisition of professional skills (possibly through the departmental professional skills workshop), and advancing to candidacy in a timely manner. The members of this third-year committee may but need not be members of the student’s dissertation committee.
Professional Skills Workshop
The department will offer each year a noncredit workshop on professional skills. Topics covered may include publication strategies, the mechanics of the job market, and how to write a cv. This workshop is open to any student in the department, and all students are encouraged to attend at least once before going on the job market.
Academic Advising after Candidacy
After advancing to candidacy, the student will select a dissertation committee that will advise him or her throughout the writing of the dissertation, supply feedback on the material of the dissertation, and conduct the oral dissertation defense. The standard committee consists of five faculty members. Three of these faculty members will be from the Department of Philosophy, and one of these (who must be tenured) will be designated as the principal director of the student’s dissertation. In addition to the three philosophy faculty, the dissertation committee must include at least two faculty from outside the Department of Philosophy, at least one of whom must be a tenured UC San Diego faculty member.
PhD in Philosophy with a Specialization in Interdisciplinary Environmental Research
A graduate specialization in Interdisciplinary Environmental Research (PIER) is available for select doctoral students in philosophy. PIER students seek solutions to today's environmental challenges.
The PhD specialization is designed to allow students to obtain standard training in their chosen field and an opportunity to interact with peers in different disciplines throughout the duration of their doctoral projects. Such communication across disciplines is key to fostering a capacity for interdisciplinary “language” skills and conceptual flexibility.
- Complete all course work, dissertation, and other requirements of the philosophy PhD
- 16-unit interdisciplinary boot camp (summer, SIO 295S-295LS)
- 8 units from a secondary field (outside the home department)
- 6 units (3 quarters) Interdisciplinary Environmental Research Forum (SIO 296)
- At least one chapter of the dissertation will be broadly related to environmental research and will be interdisciplinary in nature.
We advise students to begin PIER in their third year upon completion of core philosophy course requirements.
The following items should be combined into a single PDF document and submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Student's CV
- Half-page abstract of proposed thesis work
- Up to one-page statement of student's interest in interdisciplinary environmental research including career goals.
- Nomination letter from adviser acknowledging student's academic ability and interdisciplinary environmental interest. The letter must include a commitment for summer stipend support.
Admission to the Specialization
Students are admitted into the philosophy doctoral program. Admission to PIER is a competitive process with six to eight students granted admission each year from across ten participating UC San Diego departments. Selected applicants will have the opportunity to enroll in the specialization.
When funding is available, all applicants will be considered for one year of PIER Fellowship support.
The UC San Diego Department of Philosophy does not admit students with the intention of completing their studies at the master’s level. Nonetheless, PhD students in the department sometimes elect to receive the master’s degree in the course of their academic progress.
To qualify for a master’s degree in philosophy, a student must pass eight of the distribution requirement seminars as described above, under the subheading “Distribution Requirements.” No more than four seminars from any one of the five areas may count toward the master’s degree. The student must also complete a master’s research paper under the direction of a faculty member of his or her choice, and have it approved by two members of the department faculty.
The philosophy department at UC San Diego participates in three interdisciplinary programs, the requirements for which are outlined below.
Interdisciplinary Degree Program in Cognitive Science
The Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Cognitive Science includes faculty from a number of UC San Diego departments including the Departments of Anthropology, Biology and Neurobiology, Cognitive Science, Communication, Computer Science and Engineering, Linguistics, Music, Neurosciences, Philosophy, Psychiatry, Psychology, and Sociology. This group includes many outstanding figures in contemporary cognitive science.
Students wishing to pursue a PhD in philosophy and cognitive science register in the philosophy program in the normal fashion, but pursue a significant portion of their studies with faculty in the several departments participating in the interdisciplinary program. Students may apply for admission to the interdisciplinary program at the same time that they apply to the Department of Philosophy, or at some point after entering UC San Diego. (All students wishing to transfer into any interdisciplinary program must do so prior to the end of the fifth quarter of residency.)
Students in philosophy/cognitive science are required to complete all of the requirements for the PhD in philosophy with the following five amendments:
- The student must take six quarters of Cognitive Science 200.
- The student must take the equivalent of one year’s course work (usually six courses) in one or more of the other departments affiliated with the Department of Cognitive Science. (It should be noted that a philosophy graduate student who completes this requirement is deemed thereby to have satisfied the philosophy special skills requirement by gaining an approved special competency.)
- The distribution requirement is amended as follows: Before advancing to candidacy a philosophy/cognitive science student must have completed nine graduate seminars in philosophy distributed across the areas of (A) philosophy of science, (B) philosophy of mind and philosophy of language, (C) ethics and political philosophy, (D) epistemology and metaphysics, and (E) history of philosophy. The student must take at least one seminar from each of these five areas and at least two seminars from any four of these areas.
- The course work requirement is amended as follows: Over the first two years, a philosophy/cognitive science student will normally take at least three courses/seminars per quarter. Besides graduate seminars in philosophy and cognitive science, these may include up to two independent studies in philosophy, upper-division courses in philosophy (those numbered 100–199), approved upper-division or graduate courses in cognitive science and affiliated departments, and, if the student is a teaching assistant, Philosophy 500 (Apprentice Teaching). (It should be noted that philosophy/cognitive students who complete all the other requirements for cognitive studies and who complete the amended distribution requirement above are thereby deemed to have completed the fourteen graduate seminars required of students prior to their advancing to candidacy.)
- A plan detailing the course of study must be approved by the Cognitive
Science Program Committee. The dissertation should be interdisciplinary,
reflecting the two areas of specialization.
Interdisciplinary Program in Science Studies
The Science Studies Program at UC San Diego is committed to interdisciplinary investigations. Understanding, interpreting, and explaining the scientific enterprise demands a systematic integration of the perspectives developed within the communication of science, history of science, sociology of science, and philosophy of science. The program offers students an opportunity to work towards such integration, while receiving a thorough training at the professional level in one of the component disciplines (communications, history, sociology, philosophy).
Students enrolled in the program choose one of the component disciplines for their major field of specialist studies (for students enrolled in the Department of Philosophy, this major field is, of course, philosophy), and are required to complete minor field requirements in the others. The core of the program, however, is a yearlong seminar in science studies, led by faculty from all participating departments.
Students may apply for admission to the interdisciplinary program at the same time that they apply to the Department of Philosophy, or at some point after entering UC San Diego. (All students wishing to transfer into any interdisciplinary program must do so prior to the end of the fifth quarter of residency.)
Students in philosophy/science studies are required to complete all of the requirements for the PhD in philosophy with the following seven amendments:
- The student must attend the Science Studies Colloquium series for his or her entire first and second years. He or she will receive course credit (course 209C) in any two quarters of his or her choice (once in the first year and once in the second year, with exceptions to be considered by the director of science studies). This course is taken for an S/U grade option only.
- Before defending his or her prospectus, the student must take Introduction to Science Studies I (209A), Introduction to Science Studies II (209D), and two iterations (with changed content) of the Core Seminar in Science Studies (209B). (These courses are required in addition to the proseminar in philosophy, which is required of all PhD students in philosophy.)
- The student must, prior to defending his or her prospectus, take two additional science studies courses outside philosophy drawn from a list of approved courses available each year from the Science Studies Program office. (One course in one of the sciences may be substituted for one of these courses as part of an approved program of study.)
- The distribution requirement is amended as follows: Before advancing to candidacy, a philosophy/science studies student must have completed nine seminars in philosophy distributed across the areas of (A) philosophy of science, (B) philosophy of mind and philosophy of language, (C) ethics and political philosophy, (D) metaphysics and epistemology, and (E) history of philosophy. Students must take at least one seminar from each of these five areas and at least two seminars from any four of these areas.
- The course work requirement is amended as follows: Over the first two years, a philosophy/science studies student will normally take at least three courses/seminars per quarter. Besides graduate seminars in philosophy and science studies, these may include up to two independent studies in philosophy, upper-division courses in philosophy (those numbered 100–199), approved upper-division or graduate courses in science studies and affiliated departments, and, if the student is a teaching assistant, Philosophy 500 (Apprentice Teaching). (It should be noted that philosophy/science studies students who complete all the other requirements for science studies and who complete the amended distribution requirements for philosophy are thereby deemed to have completed the fourteen graduate seminars required of students prior to their advancing to candidacy.)
- The student’s program of study must be approved by the Department of Philosophy faculty adviser for science studies.
- At least two internal members and at least one external member of the student’s dissertation committee should be faculty of the Science Studies Program. Exceptions to this policy require permission from the director of the Science Studies Program.
Dual Degree Program with University of San Diego Law School
Students pursuing the PhD in philosophy at UC San Diego can also pursue a degree at the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law, either the JD (normally a three-year degree) or the MSLS (a one-year master’s degree). Students must be admitted independently to the two programs and must complete the requirements for both programs. Once admitted to both programs, the expectation is that students would first complete their first two years of PhD course work and any associated qualifying exams at UC San Diego. They can then take a leave from the UC San Diego program, freezing their clock here, to complete the appropriate course work at USD. For their MSLS degree, this will require a one-year leave, while for their JD degree this will require two years leave. While on leave, students would not be eligible for financial aid from UC San Diego. Students would then return to UC San Diego to complete their PhD, drawing on their combined training here and at USD in their thesis research, and getting advice on their research from faculty at both universities. Each program will make specific arrangements to grant some course credit toward their degrees for courses taken at the other university. The expectation is that students will pursue dual degrees serially, rather than concurrently, and that the UC San Diego clock will stop while students are enrolled at USD. Consequently, in the normal course of events the UC San Diego Department of Philosophy sees no special need for extending time limits on advancing to candidacy, years of support, or time toward the degree. However, exceptional cases can be handled by petition.
PhD Time Limit Policies
Students must be advanced to candidacy by the end of four years. The department’s normative time to graduation is six years. Total university support cannot exceed seven years. Total registered time at UC San Diego cannot exceed eight years.
For information regarding the graduate program call (858) 534-6809 or write to
University of California, San Diego
Graduate Adviser, Philosophy
9500 Gilman Dr. # 0119
La Jolla, CA 92093-0119
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