Philosophy | College of Liberal Arts
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Information for Current Graduate Students

The requirements for the Ph.D. are:

In the first year, complete:

  • PHL 384F (First-year Seminar), an intensive introduction to a central area of philosophy
  • PHL 389, Logic

Within the first two years, a graduate course in each of these areas:

  • metaphysics and epistemology
  • ethics
  • history of philosophy
  • Five additional graduate courses in philosophy

Within the first three years:

  • Completion and defense of a dissertation prospectus
  • Completion of PHL 398T, a one-semester teaching course

Foreign Language Proficiency -- four semesters study or equivalent -- in a language other than English (can be satisfied with coursework completed before enrolling in the program) or two additional graduate philosophy seminars or upper-division or graduate courses in a related area (approved by the GSEC)

  • Completion and defense of a dissertation

An M.A. is not required for the doctoral degree.

Exceptions to the timetable above are students in special programs, such as the Ancient Philosophy Program, who may need to do supporting coursework and language study at an early stage.

Student Responsibility

While University faculty and staff members give students academic advice and assistance, each student is expected to take responsibility for his or her education and personal development. The student must know and abide by the academic and disciplinary policies given in this catalog and in General Information, including rules governing quantity of work, the standard of work required to continue in the University, warning status and scholastic dismissal, and enforced withdrawal. The student must also know and meet the requirements of his or her degree program; must enroll in courses appropriate to the program; must meet prerequisites and take courses in the proper sequence to ensure orderly and timely progress; and must seek advice about degree requirements and other University policies when necessary.

UT General Campus Services

Philosophy Program Requirements

Area Description

In the Spring the second year, students will create a brief (one or two page maximum) draft description of their intended area(s) of specialization, to be placed on file in the reading room and circulated to all faculty; it will form part of the student’s file annually reviewed by the GSEC. The description may include ideas toward a dissertation proposal, a discussion of problems of special interest in one or more areas, or both. It will also feature a draft reading list of texts central to the candidate’s chosen area of study. Interested faculty will respond with additional ideas, suggestions for refinement, courses of study, and will evaluate the project’s novelty and interest; and in particular they will be encouraged to make suggestions for amendments to the reading list. The Graduate Adviser, in concert with any faculty member with whom the student has already been working closely, will use this description, together with any feedback from faculty, to assist the student with planning for the forthcoming term. The description and list of texts will be updated and submitted for circulation to the Department by the end of the Fall term of the candidate’s third year.

Prospectus Defense

No later than your third year you should start thinking about the structure of your dissertation, and schedule meetings with one or more faculty members to advise you. Possibilities for a dissertation range from a traditional monograph style work of say four or five chapters, to a small number of self-standing papers. You should discuss with your adviser approximately where in this spectrum your dissertation will belong.
In the Spring of your third year you should submit and defend your Prospectus. Your advisor will help you decide what’s needed. Normally at least one substantive essay is required, of say 9,000 words, along with some indication of what the remainder of the dissertation will consist in. The essay may take any of a number of forms: it may be a critical review of the current major literature in the field; it may identify in detail and present a rationale for a prospective course of research; it may in itself represent a significant and original contribution to the field in question; or it may take any other form acceptable to the candidate’s committee and to the Graduate Adviser. The prospectus committe is typically five faculty members approved by the Graduate Advisor.

Advancing to Candidacy

When you’ve completed all course requirements, including  398T, and have successfully defended your prospectus, you will next identify the four to six people who have agreed in advance to serve on your dissertation committee, selection of a supervisor or co-supervisors (note: your supervisor and at least two other committee members must be from your department and Graduate Studies Committee members), and selection of at least one “outside member” on your committee. That is, someone from outside your department. For suggestions, speak with your supervisor.

After you’ve done this online app, the document will route for approval, to your supervisor, the Grad Advisor, GSEC Chair, and finally the OGS evaluator and Dean.

Once the Dean approves your application, you’re officially a doctoral candidate, which also means that you are required to remain continuously registered for dissertation. This means no leaves of absence, registering in ISR status while in candidacy is still a possibility. Once you’ve advanced to candidacy you will enroll in one of the _99W Dissertation hours.

It is no longer a UT Graduate School rule that graduate students be enrolled in a minimum of two semesters of candidacy. Doctoral candidates must maintain continuous enrollment in the dissertation course until they graduate. If a student advances to candidacy and graduates within a single semester, they will simply register for 699W (six hours minimum will be required).

Graduate Student Employment

The Role of the Teaching Assistant (TA) and Assistant Instructor (AI)

There are many reasons why you have become a TA or AI, not the least of which is financial support for your graduate studies. But, because your work directly impacts the lives of undergraduates and their learning, doing your job well is essential to fulfilling the university's mission. Through teaching and advising undergraduates effectively, we can impact student retention, build a sense of community and promote institutional loyalty.

TAs and AIs at UT have a wide range of responsibilities depending on their department and their assignment. TA and AI duties range from the traditional ones of grading, leading review sessions and holding office hours, to leading field trips, writing exams and generating course web sites.

More additional information on the responsibilites involved, please refer to:

*Note that The Deparment's policy is that graduate students may not be appointed if they have more than one grade of X (temporary incomplete) or I (permanent incomplete)

Student Employee Excellence Development (SEED Program)

Department Policy on Incomplete Grades

Starting Spring semester 2015, a student who is allowed to take an incomplete (X) must deliver the missing work not later than 30 days after the last day of classes.  An incomplete grade beyond this period will prevent the student from being eligible for a TA or AI appointment.  Students are held to the department's policy. 

Foreign Language Requirement

Foreign Language Proficiency -- four semesters study or equivalent -- in a language other than English (can be satisfied with coursework completed before enrolling in the program) or two additional graduate philosophy seminars or upper-division or graduate courses in a related area (approved by the GSEC).

Services for Students with Disabilities

SSD determines eligibility and approves reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities at the University of Texas at Austin. We also engage in outreach across campus in order to make campus a more inclusive, accessible and welcoming environment for people with disabilities.

SSD is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and our office is located on the fourth floor of the Student Services Building.

Learning Disabilities

The Graduate School – Scholarships, Fellowships, Professional Development

Graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin generally support themselves in one of the following ways: departmental aid in the form of scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships; fellowships administered by the Office of Graduate Studies; need-based financial aid administered by the Office of Student Financial Services (OSFS), and outside funding or employment.

Funding information

Leaves of Absence

Health and Wellness Resources

Office of the Dean of Students