Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree:

The PhD program is separate from the Master's program; admission is only open to students with an MA in philosophy.

1. 24 hours of coursework beyond completion of the M.A. in philosophy (with the approval of the graduate committee, up to six hours may be taken in another discipline). Course work beyond the M.A. must satisfy the following conditions: 

  • Only courses in which a "B" or better is earned count toward completion of the 24 hours of course work required for the Ph.D.
  • Symbolic Logic I or II, or equivalent, or exam in symbolic logic. (This requirement is waived for candidates who have completed the above M.A. program.)
  • At least nine hours of graduate seminar work in philosophy.
  • By the time final coursework is taken, students must have satisfied course distribution requirements comparable to those for the above M.A. program (1, above).

2. 18 credits worth of dissertation hours

3. Qualifying Examinations:

  • Comprehensive Exam: The student must pass a comprehensive examination of his or her main area of specialization. More information is provided below.
  • Prospectus Exam: The student must write a dissertation proposal and pass an oral preliminary dissertation examination covering the proposal and the topic of the dissertation. More information is provided below.

 4. An acceptable dissertation, successfully defended before the dissertation committee.

Comprehensive Exam:

The student must pass a comprehensive examination of his or her main area of specialization.

Each PhD candidate is to take a comprehensive exam in an area of specialization, generally the area of dissertation research. The area and a three-person examining committee should be determined in consultation with a faculty advisor, typically the dissertation advisor, and a reading list devised. Lists must be approved by the Graduate Committee. Areas will be broad in scope and include: Ancient Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Continental Philosophy, History of Analytic Philosophy; Aesthetics, Epistemology, Ethics, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, Political Philosophy. Other areas may be undertaken with the approval of an advisor and the permission of the Graduate Committee.

Exams will be administered by the faculty advisor. Full-time students must take the exam by the end of the second year. Part-time students are to take the exam by, at the latest, the end of the semester following their completion of the 24 credit hour course requirement. Each exam will be four hours long, and the advisor should notify the student in advance how many questions will need to be answered. Exams will be graded on a pass/fail basis by the comprehensive exam committee, and the student will be notified of the grade typically within two weeks. Failed comps may be retaken if the Graduate Committee approves.

Prospectus Exam:

The student must write a dissertation proposal and pass an oral preliminary dissertation examination covering the proposal and the topic of the dissertation.

Each Ph.D. candidate will write a prospectus. The prospectus will, first, discuss the specific topic of the dissertation, laying out particular issues to be addressed and theses potentially to be defended and setting the context for the project by relating these concerns to the relevant background and the existing literature on the topic; second, outline the contents of the dissertation by including a brief paragraph on each projected chapter; and third, provide a detailed bibliography of major works to be consulted in the course of writing. The prospectus will be handed in to the dissertation advisor and two other faculty members and a date will be determined for the preliminary exam. The preliminary exam will be an oral typically lasting from ninety minutes to two hours, covering the topic of the dissertation and focusing on helping the student to develop a plan for successful execution and completion of the project. The student should be prepared to explain the relevance of the items in the bibliography. One member of the committee may, with approval of the Graduate Committee, be from outside the department.

Failed prospectus exams may be retaken at the discretion of the examining committee.

Satisfactory progress toward the PhD:

Full-time students are to satisfy the 24 credit hour course requirement by the end of their second year, and normally by the end of the first semester of their second year (exceptions to be allowed at the discretion of the graduate advisor); to attempt the comprehensive exam by the end of the second year; to complete the prospectus by the end of the summer following their second year; and to take the prospectus exam early in the first semester of the third year. This timetable describes the late edge of satisfactory; it is advisable to complete these requirements well in advance of this schedule in order to be prepared to apply for jobs in the middle of the first semester of the third year.

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy program

Admission to the Ph.D. program is also subject to the approval of the Graduate School of the University of Arkansas and the graduate committee of the Department of Philosophy. Students must have an MA in philosophy to be eligible for the PhD program. Those who are still working on their MA may be conditionally admitted into the PhD program.

Application Materials

Application is a two-part process. Submit application form, fee, transcripts, at least three confidential letters of recommendation, and GRE scores to the Graduate School. Send a sample of written work and statement of purpose directly to the Philosophy Department, at the address below. Applicants seeking a teaching assistantship should submit an assistantship application form to the Philosophy Department as well. The Graduate School has additional requirements for International students.

Send application materials to:

Graduate Admissions
Department of Philosophy
MAIN 318
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701

Through an agreement with the Academic Common Market, residents of Alabama and Mississippi may qualify for graduate enrollment in the doctoral program in philosophy as in-state students for fee purposes. See the Graduate Catalog for details.