Return to: Graduate School of Arts & Sciences: Departments/Programs
120 Cocke Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400780
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4780
Programs of Study
The Department of Philosophy offers programs leading to the degree of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy and participates with the School of Law in a program leading to the dual degrees of J.D. and M.A. in Philosophy. An essential part of the graduate program is the development of appropriate professional skills in teaching and research. Students are required to undertake the work necessary for the development of such skills.
Master of Arts
- 30 hours of graduate-level courses.
- Completion of one qualifying paper. Each student must submit a qualifying paper to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will convene a committee of two or three faculty members to evaluate each paper. Students are allowed two submissions.
Doctor of Philosophy
- 36 hours of graded courses at or above the 5000-level. The Director of Graduate Studies may waive credits for this requirement based on graduate courses completed elsewhere.
- Two qualifying papers. The first qualifying paper must be submitted by the beginning of the third semester of study, and the second paper by the beginning of the fifth semester. A total of four submissions will be allowed, and missing a deadline counts as one submission. Students entering the program with an M.A. in the field from another university must complete only the second qualifying paper with up to two submissions allowed.
- Qualification for the Ph.D in four areas. A student must qualify in each of three areas - Metaphysics and Epistemology, Ethics, and History of Philosophy - by achieving an average grade of at least B+ in two courses in that area by the conclusion of the sixth semester of study. No more than one course in each of the following areas can be counted towards satisfying the requirement in History: Ancient Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy, Modern Philosophy. The Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the faculty, determines which areas each course will satisfy.
- Qualifying in Logic. Students must satisfy both (A) and (B) below.
(A) Earning a grade of at least B in PHIL 2420; or a grade of at least B on the final exam of PHIL 2420; or a grade of at least B- in PHIL 5420.
(B) Earning a grade of B- or higher in one of the following courses: PHIL 5470 (Philosophy of Mathematics), PHIL 7440 (Philosophical Logic), PHIL 5450 (Language and Logic), PHIL 7450 (Topics in the Philosophy of Language), or PHIL 8510 (Vagueness). Equivalent courses may be substituted with the consent of the Director of Graduate Studies.
Permission to submit Ph.D. dissertation proposal. Upon a student’s completion of all requirements for the Ph.D. except the dissertation and dissertation proposal, the faculty will review the student’s overall academic performance and determine whether the student will be permitted to submit a dissertation proposal.
- Ph.D. dissertation proposal approved by the Philosophy faculty. The dissertation proposal should provide an outline of what the dissertation will accomplish. It should specify the key questions that the dissertation will address; the scope of the philosophical literature that the dissertation will examine; the central thesis or theses that the dissertation will advance; and the main arguments that will be used to advance these theses. The proposal must have the consent of the dissertation supervisor before it is submitted to the faculty for approval. Dissertation proposals must be no longer than 2500 words (excluding bibliography). Approval is given upon successful completion of an oral examination of the proposal by the faculty. Dissertation proposals should be submitted by September 15 (or February 15) of the seventh semester of study.
- Advancement to Candidacy. Candidates must complete pre-dissertation requirements, including coursework, qualifying papers and the dissertation prospectus, by the conclusion of the seventh semester of study.
- Ph.D. dissertation and successful oral defense of the dissertation. The student will work under the supervision of a dissertation committee consisting of the supervisor and one or two additional readers. Readers will be selected by the student and supervisor in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. The Examining Committee for the oral defense will normally consist of five faculty members (including the supervisor).
This department, in cooperation with the School of Law, offers a dual degree leading to the degrees of J.D. and M.A. in Philosophy. In order to enter the program a student is required to secure admission separately to the School of Law and to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences through normal admissions procedures; and to subsequently secure admission to the dual degree by application to the program committee.
The program normally takes four years to complete, and ordinarily consists of the complete first-year program at the School of Law, followed by three years of courses from the curricula of the two schools and, where appropriate, from other graduate offerings at the University. The student must meet all the requirements set by the respective departments to be awarded each degree. This involves, in the School of Law, a minimum of 86 credits, as well as completion of the school’s curricula; and, in the Department of Philosophy, 24 credits and completion of the “two papers” requirement. With the approval of the members of the program committee, a student may count up to 12 credits earned at the graduate level in the Department of Philosophy or other graduate offerings in the University, toward the 86 credits required for the J.D. degree; and up to six credits earned in the School of Law toward the 24 credits required for the M.A. degree.
Further regulations concerning change of status, financial aid, tuition and fees, extracurricular activities, and grading standards may be obtained on application to the Department of Philosophy.
Accelerated Masters of Arts Program for UVA Undergraduates
Admission decisions are made by a three-person committee consisting of the Director of Graduate Admissions, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Director of the Undergraduate Program.
Admissions decisions are made on the basis of merit, which is determined holistically. The committee will consult with faculty members familiar with your work and take into account factors such as your GPA, especially in philosophy classes, and your reasons for seeking admission. In certain cases, the committee may ask for additional supporting material, such as a writing sample. GREs are not required.
M.A. in Philosophy
Two semesters of full-time residential study.
30 hours of graduate-level courses. No transfer credits are accepted. Up to 6 hours may be satisfied through Non-Topical Research. Students who previously enrolled in courses offered through GSAS while completing an undergraduate or graduate degree program at the University of Virginia may count up to six credits of such coursework towards a master’s degree as long as those credits were not used to fulfill requirements for the prior degree.
- Completion of one qualifying paper. Each student must submit a qualifying paper to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will convene a committee of 2-3 faculty members to evaluate each paper. Students are allowed two submissions.
Typically, students in the Accelerated MA Program will either (i) write their qualifying paper during their second semester, on the basis of a first-semester term paper, and graduate in May; or (ii) write their qualifying paper during the summer, using a second-semester term paper as its basis and graduating in August. Please note that graduating in August requires registering for Degree Conferral in Absentia over the summer and paying the associated fee.
A successful qualifying paper will exceed, in both quality and substance, the minimal standard for a grade of “A” on a graduate seminar term paper. Qualifying papers must be between 4,000 and 10,000 words in length. Qualifying papers are typically significantly revised graduate seminar term papers. When a considering developing a term paper into a qualifying paper, a student should consult the instructor of the seminar for advice. (Upon initially submitting a term paper, the student may ask the instructor to read the paper with an eye towards whether it might serve as the basis for a qualifying paper.) The instructor will provide guidance as to whether the project is promising, and may suggest possible changes the student might make to the paper, to render it suitable. Such changes may be substantial. In addition to altering the existing argument of the paper, the instructor may suggest that the paper address works not read in the seminar; that it respond to further objections; etc. The instructor’s guidance is advisory only; following this advice does not guarantee that the paper will be accepted as a qualifying paper