Philosophy books stacked on a table

As a program that emphasizes the history of philosophy, the Ph.D. program of the School of Philosophy expects its Ph.D. students to be familiar with seminal philosophical writings from the Presocratics to the mid-Twentieth Century. Its Ph.D. comprehensive examination consists, accordingly, of two parts, corresponding to a two-part chronological list of readings. “List I” ranges over texts from the Presocratics to Ockham; “List II,” ranges over texts from Descartes to Quine. The exams on each List assess the student’s understanding of the seminal philosophical works that qualify the two exams together as “comprehensive.” Both parts of the examination are given every fall and spring semester.

The examinations are open-book: the student brings approved editions of the relevant texts to the examination.

Students may sit for the two parts in any order, but no student may attempt more than one in a given two-day examination period.

Students must have passed exams on both Lists by the end of the semester in which their dissertation proposal is approved. On passing one of the two parts of the examination, a student is admitted to doctoral candidacy.