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PhD program

The purpose of earning a Ph.D. in philosophy is to become an independent scholar as well as a teacher of the subject. Perhaps the most important achievement during the Ph.D. is the writing of the dissertation, which is typically a student's first substantial and original scientific contribution to philosophy. The course work to be achieved in advance of the dissertation serves to prepare both for the preparation of the dissertation and for teaching. In addition to academic achievements and the dissertation, Ph.D. Columbia students are required to participate in the teaching of undergraduate courses as part of their doctoral training.

On the way to Ph.D. in philosophy, students acquire an M.A. (Master of Arts in Philosophy) and an M.Phil. (Master of Philosophy in Philosophy).

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Note on entry in 2021:

In response to the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Institute of Philosophy has decided to suspend approval for its doctoral program for autumn 2021. This one-year break enables us to provide additional support to our current PhD students in their work on unforeseen needs that have arisen since the beginning of the pandemic. We strive to devote our full attention and support to our current doctoral students and to supervise them closely so that their research can recover as quickly as possible. We are also committed to ensuring that our prospective PhD students receive the richest, most rewarding program we can offer this year.

Doctoral candidates are advised to apply in 2021 for admission in autumn 2022.

Our independent MA programs will remain open to new students in autumn 2021; The application for the MA courses will go online on September 20, 2020.

We thank you for your understanding.

Study phases

The study program for the Ph.D. in philosophy is divided into three phases:

1) The first and second years in which students focus on coursework and distribution requirements.

Students should meet the requirements for the M.A. degree in the second year; the M.A. degree must be awarded by the end of the second year.

2) The third year in which the students write three papers as part of the preparation of a dissertation proposal and take part in the proposal preparation seminar.

Students should meet the requirements for the M.Phil. Fourth year graduation; the M.Phil. The degree must be awarded by the end of the fourth year.

Acquisition of the M.Phil. Degree means that the student meets all the requirements for the Ph.D. in philosophy with the exception of the dissertation, as well as ABD - All But Dissertation.

3) The dissertation phase, beginning with the award of the M.Phil. until the end of the fourth year and until the fifth (and possibly sixth and seventh years), during which the student completes a dissertation and earns the Ph.D. receives. Degree.

Community information

The Institute of Philosophy works within the framework of a system of multi-year funding packages provided by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). As far as possible, this funding is granted to all prospective doctoral students. Students regardless of nationality. The packages usually last for five years. All scholarship awards cover total tuition, health insurance and access to Columbia Student Health Service. In addition, they award an annual nine-month scholarship. A detailed overview of the GSAS funding system, including the ability to combine GSAS funding with external scholarships, can be found on the GSAS website: Scholarship Information for Doctoral Students Please note that some fees are not covered by scholarship awards or by the Institute of Philosophy . Please also note that of the ten semesters funded, a maximum of four are completely free of teaching .


Columbia University strives to complete its Ph.D. Students become excellent teachers as well as excellent scholars in their field. GSAS requires that all Ph.D. Students teach at least two semesters as a prerequisite for the doctorate. Degree.

All students who receive a five-year funding package from GSAS must teach in six of their ten funded semesters. This teaching is usually carried out as a teaching assistant within the Philosophy Department (except when awarding preceptorships in the Core Program or teaching fellowships in the Undergraduate Writing Program; see below). There is some flexibility in terms of the semesters in which a student will be a teaching assistant (TA). However, no student is allowed to teach in the first year, so students should expect to spread their six semesters of teaching over the second through fifth years. Usually second, third, and fourth year TA students.

The basic tasks of all TAs are: to attend lectures, to hold consultation hours and to grade written work. In certain large introductory courses, TAs act as section leaders for small discussion sections. In some cases, TAs also maintain a class website.

According to Columbia University guidelines, TA work should not exceed 20 hours per week.

Timely deals

Students with multi-year funding packages are expected to complete their Ph.D. within the period covered by their funding, which is usually five years. Some students apply as associate professors in Columbia College's core curriculum or as teaching scholars at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. As these are challenging positions, students who become Preceptors or faculty are expected to complete their PhD within six years. Please note that students who exceed the sixth year have no automatic entitlement to continue living in the university dormitory; if they so wish, they must submit an application in the spring semester of the sixth year. The Philosophy Department does not have any obligations towards students who exceed the seventh year.


Please note that all Ph.D. Students must be enrolled as full-time students for the entire duration of their graduate studies. The only exceptions to this requirement are official leave of absence, which can only be granted by the dean of the GSAS.

For more information, see the Registration Categories page on the GSAS website.

Study requirements

The following requirements should be read in conjunction with the general requirements of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Note: Courses offered by other faculties do not count towards philosophical degrees unless they are cross-listed. In some cases the DGS (Director of Graduate Studies) may allow an exception to this restriction if justified by a student's philosophical project.

For the M.A. degree

The requirements for the freelance M.A. degree in philosophy and the Ph.D. are identical.

The study and distribution requirements for the M.A. are half as high as for the M.Phil. The requirements for the M.Phil. are cumulative and include the requirements for the M.A.
(For example: For the MA degree, 30 credit points are required, for the M.Phil. Another 30 points, i.e. a total of 60 points; for the MA 3 points are required in each distribution group and for the MA another 3 points are required for each distribution group for the M.Phil., So a total of 6 points.)

Since the M.Phil. Requirements are cumulative, students in the first two years of the Ph.D. Program should focus on meeting all course and distribution requirements for the M.Phil. Graduation, but make sure you apply for the MA degree as soon as you meet the MA requirements (2 Residence Units; 18 points E-Credit, including at least 2 seminars and at least 3 points in each distribution group; 12 points R-Credit ) are completed.

For the M.Phil. Degree

Residence requirement:
6 residential units (including the 2 residential units required for the M.A. degree). (1 residential unit = 1 semester full-time study.)

Proseminar Requirement:
All Ph.D. Students must take the proseminar in their first year of study. The proseminar is taken for R-Credit.

Course requirements:
For the M.Phil. A minimum of 60 points at the G4000 level or higher are required. Degree.

- Of these 60 points, at least 33 points must be for e-credits (a passed grade).

  • Of the 33 E-Credit points, at least 30 points must be earned in the first 2 years. The remaining 3 points are acquired in the third academic year for a Quodlibetal Studies course in the fall semester of the third academic year at the academic advisory service. (The proposal preparation seminar in the spring semester of the third year is passed / failed.)
  • Of the 30 e-credit points that must be acquired in the first two years, At least 6 points must be in each of the following three distribution groups:
    • Group I: ethics; Aesthetics; Political philosophy;
    • Group II: Epistemology; Philosophy of logic; Philosophy of language; Philosophy of science; Metaphysics;
    • Group III: History of Philosophy (a major philosopher or a philosophical period).
  • Of the 30 e-credit points that must be acquired in the first two years, at least 12 points must be for G9000-level seminars. Quodlibetal courses (self-study) can replace regular seminars with the approval of the DGS.

-3 points are passed / not passed, for the proposal preparation seminar in the spring semester of the third year.

-The remaining 24 points can be used for R-credit (registration credit).

To receive a letter grade, a student must meet all of the requirements for the course. To earn R credits (enrollment points), a student must attend the course and meet any additional requirements of the instructor, such as: B. an oral presentation. However, no letter grade with R-credit is awarded.

Note: In the first year, 6 R-Credit points are earned in the introductory seminar (3 points in the fall semester, 3 points in the spring).

A typical course load in the first two years of the Ph.D. The program would be as follows:

First year

Autumn break:
The required First Year Proseminar for R-Credit.
-2 courses for letter notes
-2 additional courses for R-credit

Spring semester:
The required First Year Proseminar for R-Credit.
-2 or 3 courses for letter grades
-1 or 2 additional courses for R-credit

(Please note that students have no TA obligations in the first year.)

Second year

Autumn break:
-2 or 3 courses for letter grades
-1 or 2 courses for R-credit

Spring semester:
-2 or 3 courses for letter grades
-1 or 2 courses for R-credit

Third year

Autumn break:
-1 Quodlibetal Studies course for a letter note with the academic advisory service in the winter semester
-1 course for R-credit

Spring semester:
-Seminar for the preparation of offers, passed Pass / Fail
-1 course for R-credit

Qualification requirements:


All students must demonstrate knowledge of logic. This requirement can be met in two ways:

  1. Acquisition of at least 3 e-credits in a logic course (G4000 level or higher);
  2. Passing the aptitude test in logic carried out by the institute in the last week before the start of the winter semester. (Students who pass the exam are exempt from additional study achievements in logic.) The aptitude test is optional and cannot be repeated.

Language requirement:

In consultation with the academic advisors and the DGS, the students in the first two years of study are instructed in the selection of study achievements in such a way that the department can convince by the end of the third academic year that they have acquired all the research tools required to complete the proposed dissertation. In some cases this may include proof of language proficiency or a related field relevant to a candidate's research project.

Requirements for the defense of the dissertation proposal:

The defense of a dissertation proposal is the last requirement for the M.Phil. Degree. After the Proposal Defense (provided all other M.Phil. Requirements have been met), students can apply for the M.Phil. regardless of whether the defense was successful. An unsuccessful Proposal Defense means that a student has completed the program with an M.Phil. in the hand. However, in order to remain in the program and become an official candidate for the PhD, a student's Proposal Defense must be successful and the proposal must be officially approved by the student's dissertation committee.

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For the Ph.D. Degree

After the students have completed their M.Phil. and are admitted to the candidacy, they must successfully complete and defend their dissertation in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students should consult the dissertation office pages on the GSAS website:

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