Requirements for the Ph.D.

Requirements for the M.A. in Philosophy

UCI’s graduate program in Philosophy is a doctoral program. At present, no students are admitted to pursue only the M.A.

At least one year of study in the Philosophy program is usually necessary for award of the M.A. There is no list of required courses. The student may elect to follow either of the following routes to the degree: write a thesis on a subject to be chosen in consultation with an advisor and defend the thesis in an oral examination, or satisfy the Logic and Portfolio requirements (explained below).

Advancement to candidacy for the M.A. requires formal application to the Dean of Graduate Studies via the Philosophy Department Office. Application must be made with the recommendation of the Philosophy Department and must take place before the beginning of the quarter in which the student expects to receive the degree.

Requirements for the Ph.D. in Philosophy

There is no set number of courses required for the Philosophy track, so that work can be tailored to the individual student’s needs and interests. However, as a prerequisite for the Ph.D. degree, every student is required to have some experience in teaching. Before students receive their first appointment as TAs in this department, they must complete the TA training program offered by UCI's Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center (TLTC).

Normative time to degree in the Philosophy track is seven years for the normally qualified student. Time to advancement to candidacy is four years. Time in candidacy is three years. Maximum time to degree permitted is nine years. A master's degree is not a prerequisite for the Ph.D. The following are requirements for the Ph.D.:

First-Year Seminar. An examination of some standard works in the history of Philosophy, value theory, metaphysics, or epistemology; required of all first-year Philosophy graduate students in the School of Humanities.

Distribution Requirements. Students are required to take a range of courses designed to expose them to the various historical periods and fields of philosophy. When course offerings are announced, students are notified about which courses can be used to satisfy which requirements. In some cases, the requirement satisfied will ultimately depend on the content of the student's term paper(s).

The Distribution Requirements are:
  1. History. To satisfy this requirement, students must receive a grade of B or better in at least four courses covering at least three of the following areas: Ancient, Medieval, Modern Empiricism, Modern Rationalism, Kant, Nineteenth Century, and Twentieth Century.
  2. Field. To satisfy this requirement, students must receive a grade of B or better in two courses in value theory, one course in logic, and two courses in metaphysics/epistemology, broadly construed.
These requirements must be completed by the end of the seventh quarter in residence.

Logic Requirement. Students must receive a grade of B or better in an approved logic course. This requirement must be completed by the end of the seventh quarter in residence.

Tools of Research. The student’s dissertation advisor may require his or her advisee to pursue the tool(s) of research deemed useful for the advisee’s dissertation research. A student might, for example, be required to take classes outside the Department of Philosophy or learn languages other than English. The Tools of Research requirement must be completed by the end of the 12th quarter in residence.

The Portfolio. A portfolio of at least two papers is an extended writing sample designed to demonstrate a student's ability (a) to understand, analyze, and evaluate positions and arguments in the philosophical literature, and (b) to formulate and defend an original philosophical thesis. These virtues must be displayed at a level of sophistication indicating the student's ability to write a Ph.D. dissertation.

The portfolio must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator at the end of the fifth week of the student's sixth quarter in residence. Portfolios will be evaluated by the entire faculty of the Philosophy Department. (Philosophy track students may request that relevant LPS faculty also be present at the evaluation meeting.)

Students should add an acknowledgment to their work that details the assistance they have received in the writing of it by faculty. 

Prospectus Examination. In preparation for the prospectus examination, students choose a dissertation advisor and a dissertation committee (composed of your dissertation advisor and at least two other members). They consult with their thesis advisor and other appropriate faculty to prepare a reading list on their area of concentration and a brief dissertation proposal and comprehensive bibliography. The exam is an oral exam and must be completed by the end of the ninth quarter in residence. The prospectus exam is to determine whether the dissertation project is viable and promises results that will fulfill standards expected for a dissertation in the profession. 
You are responsible for scheduling the exam and providing the date and the list of dissertation committee members to the Graduate Coordinator. 

Candidacy ExaminationThe Candidacy Committee is comprised of *at least* three faculty who are voting members of the University of California Academic Senate or by equivalent scholarly standing, by exception.  
 In preparation for the candidacy examination, students prepare at least a draft chapter of their dissertation, an outline of the organization of the work, and update their prospectus and bibliography in consultation with their thesis advisor and their dissertation committee (your dissertation committee for your candidacy defense should consist of your advisor, three further committee members, and an outside member). Students apply for candidacy by filing appropriate forms, including a list (devised in consultation with their advisor) of appropriate members for their Candidacy Committee; one of these, the External Examiner, must come from outside the Department of Philosophy. The Committee is then appointed by the Philosophy Department, on behalf of the Dean of Graduate Division and the Graduate Council, to administer the oral candidacy examination on the prospectus and draft chapter(s) to determine whether or not the student will be approved to continue work on the dissertation. You are are responsible for scheduling the exam and providing the date and the list of dissertation committee members to the Graduate Coordinator. 

The Candidacy Examination must be completed by the end of the twelfth quarter in residence. The Philosophy Department Chair, on behalf of the Dean of the Graduate Division and the Graduate Council, then appoints a Doctoral Committee (typically taken from the Candidacy Committee and naturally including the dissertation advisor) to supervise the writing of the dissertation. 

Dissertation Defense. Students must defend their dissertation during an oral examination administered by their Doctoral Committee.

Program in Law and Graduate Studies (J.D./Ph.D.)

Highly qualified students interested in combining the study of Law with graduate qualifications in Philosophy are invited to undertake concurrent degree study under the auspices of UC Irvine's Program in Law and Graduate Studies. Students in this program pursue a coordinated curriculum leading to a J.D. degree from the School of Law in conjunction with a Ph.D. degree in Philosophy. Students must be admitted to both programs separately in order to pursue the concurrent Program in Law and Graduate Studies. Students admitted to the Program in Law and Graduate Studies have to complete all of the requirements of each degree. The normative time for completion of the Program in Law and Graduate Studies is eight years for the J.D./Ph.D. combination. Additional information is available from the Program Director's Office (949) 824-4158, or by email to A full description of the program, with links to all relevant application information, can be found at the Program in Law and Graduate Studies homepage.

Joint MSTP/Ph.D Program: 

Students admitted to the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) may pursue a PhD through any of the university's graduate programs, including philosophy.