The Department of Philosophy also offers a program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The requirements are as follows:
Courses: The University requires 72 points. The department requires that 44 points (the “basic points”) be as specified below. A minimum of 36 of the 44 basic points must be taken in the NYU Department of Philosophy. Twenty-eight of the total 72 points may be in dissertation research, although the student may include other courses toward that total as well. 8 basic points worth of courses that are taken while enrolled in the NYU philosophy PhD. program can be satisfied through courses taken outside of the NYU Department of Philosophy. Transfer credit is apportioned on a case-by-case basis and is normally restricted to courses taken in philosophy Ph.D. programs. Normally, a maximum of 12 basic points of transfer credit is allowed and any transfer credits must first be used against the permitted 8 points that can be taken outside of the NYU Department of Philosophy while enrolled in the program. Except in unusual circumstances, transfer credit may not be used to satisfy the area distribution requirements described below under “Basic course work.”
The required 44 basic points are to be earned by taking the following courses (‘basic-point courses’):
1. Proseminar (8 points)
Each year, the department offers a full-year Proseminar required for all first-year Ph.D. students. It is open to first-year Ph.D. students only. It includes frequent short writing assignments, and the mode of instruction emphasizes discussion rather than lecture. The topics are determined by the instructors but include basic texts and ideas in analytic philosophy.
2. Basic course work (28 points; typically seven 4-point courses)
These seven courses are drawn from advanced introduction courses, intermediate-level courses, topics or advanced seminar courses, and research seminar courses. These must include at least one course in value theory (ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of law, or political philosophy); at least one course in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, or philosophy of mind; and at least one course in the history of philosophy (ancient, medieval, modern, or 19th century). At least three of the courses must be outside value theory.
3. Two Associated Writing courses (8 points)
There are two main forms that an Associated Writing course may take. In the first, most common form, the student works with a faculty member to develop and refine an already existing paper. (The paper is often, but not always, a paper written for a previous graduate seminar.) During the semester, the student submits drafts of the developing paper, discussing each draft with the instructor before moving on to the next draft. The aim is for students to receive individual mentoring in the craft of writing a professional-level philosophy paper; to have a chance to develop a paper more deeply and thoroughly than is typically possible in the more rushed context of a one-semester seminar; and to be provided with a formally structured opportunity to prepare papers for the third-year review.
Although this is the paradigmatic form of an Associated Writing course, the student needn’t always start with a preexisting paper. In some cases, an Associated Writing may take a form more akin to an “Independent Study,” in which the student (with faculty guidance) reads up on an area of interest and writes a new paper from scratch. While this is sometimes a good option, students should be aware that to go this route is potentially to saddle themselves with extra work in a way that could slow their progress through the program. To go this route is also to forgo a formally structured opportunity to work on polishing an existing paper for the third-year review.
It is expected that the student and faculty member will meet roughly every two weeks during the semester. Students needn’t have prior acquaintance with a faculty member to ask him or her to supervise an Associated Writing. Under no circumstances may a student submit one and the same paper for credit in both a graduate seminar and an Associated Writing course. If an Associated Writing paper develops out of an existing seminar paper, as will often be the case, the expectation is that it will constitute a substantial development of that paper. An Associated Writing course may in some cases be used to fulfill a distribution requirement, but only if the course is done on the “Independent Study” model and permission is obtained in advance from the Director of Graduate Studies and the course instructor.
Third-Year Review: By the date one week prior to the first day of the fifth semester in the program, students must submit two papers written while enrolled in the NYU PhD program. To satisfy the requirement, papers should be substantial pieces of work that demonstrate that the student is able to take his or her philosophical research and writing to the high level appropriate for writing a dissertation. While there is no suggestion that papers should be approaching this limit, papers longer than 12,000 words (excluding bibliography) will not be accepted. Each paper is reviewed by at least two faculty members; our ambition is to review all papers blindly, although we cannot guarantee it; both papers must pass in order for the student to pass. If a student fails to submit a paper by the deadline, he/she will receive a ‘fail’ on the paper unless an extension was granted previously on grounds of extenuating circumstances. Except for emergency situations, extension requests must be filed at least one week prior to the deadline. If a paper fails, the student must submit a revised version of the paper, or a new paper; the usual deadline for this second submission is by the end of the fifth semester in the program but may be extended in special circumstances. If a student fails to submit the new, or revised, paper by the agreed upon deadline, or if this paper also fails, their eligibility to continue in the program will be jeopardized.
Thesis Prospectus: By the fifth week of their fifth term in the program, students must designate a prospectus advisor and report that designation to the Director of Graduate Studies. (The designation of a prospectus advisor takes place by this time regardless of whether the student has successfully completed the third-year review.) It is understood that the designation of “prospectus advisor” is provisional and subject to change depending on the evolving nature of the thesis project. The prospectus advisor’s role is to guide the student through the prospectus-writing process; the prospectus advisor may or may not ultimately serve on the dissertation committee, though of course often he or she will.
By the tenth week of their sixth term in the program, students must submit a draft prospectus document to their prospectus advisor, copying the Director of Graduate Studies. It is hoped that this draft can serve as the final, or near-final, version of the prospectus and be defended by the end of the sixth term, but it is understood that this will not always be possible; to remain in good standing, however, the student must submit a draft, which may then serve as the basis for ongoing work and discussion. The prospectus document should be between five and a strict maximum of fifteen pages long. It should not be a philosophy paper, but rather a thesis plan that (1) clearly articulates an interesting philosophical problem in a way that (2) displays the student’s knowledge of the problem’s place in the space of philosophical ideas and, in particular, of the leading attempts to resolve the problem, and (3) gives as clear an indication as the student can give at this early stage of how he or she intends to organize the thesis, and of what he or she expects his or her contribution to be, that is, of what the thesis will add to the existing literature. (Students writing a thesis consisting of three linked papers should apply these guidelines to each of their topics. The prospectus document should still not exceed fifteen pages, however.)
No later than the fourteenth week of the sixth term in the program, each student must notify the Director of Graduate Studies of the composition of his or her full prospectus committee. The prospectus committee often becomes the dissertation committee, but this needn’t always be the case and uncertainty about the ultimate composition of the dissertation committee should not stand in the way of the designation of the prospectus committee by the end of the sixth term. Dissertation and prospectus committees ordinarily consist of three, and no more than three, faculty members. Exceptions to this rule require special justification and must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Chairs of prospectus and dissertation committees must be members of the Philosophy Department, though someone appointed chair while in the Department can continue in this role even if she should subsequently leave.
Prospectus Defense: While the prospectus defense takes the form of an oral examination, its principal purpose is to reach an agreement with prospective future members of the student’s thesis committee as to the shape and substance of the project. The thesis prospectus examination should satisfy the committee that the candidate can write a passing thesis meeting the description in the candidate’s submitted prospectus.
Policy on Advising: Ordinarily, all advisors (thesis, prospectus, pre-prospectus) will meet with their advisees at least twice per semester (for example, once toward the beginning of the semester, and once toward the end before the graduate student review). Other members of thesis committees will typically meet with their students at least once per semester. Practice may vary between individual cases and it will sometimes be appropriate to meet more or less often. Nevertheless, except in very unusual circumstances, advisors and advisees should meet at least once per semester. Students and their advisors are encouraged to set aside some meeting time for unstructured discussion, conducted without a fixed agenda.
Logic Requirement: The department’s logic requirement can be satisfied in four ways. One way is to take a graduate-level logic course in the NYU philosophy department. A second way is to take an upper-level undergraduate course at NYU or elsewhere, or a graduate-level course elsewhere, but in both cases the appropriateness of the course must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. A third way is to satisfy the department that some course or courses taken previously meets the required standard. A fourth way is to schedule an oral examination covering an appropriate range of topics. In deciding whether to approve courses under the second and third headings, and in determining the content of the oral examination under the fourth heading, the department will be looking for competence in the following topics: formalization of English sentences in first-order logic; derivations within a proof system for first-order logic; formal definitions of models, truth in a model, and validity for first-order logic; basic meta-logical tools, including proof by mathematical induction and recursive definition; the statement of, and the basic methods for proving, basic meta-logical results, including soundness and completeness for systems of first-order or modal logic, and results concerning the decidability of some formal systems.
Thesis and Oral Examination: The dissertation can consist of a monograph or, alternatively, of three outstanding papers. The department envisions that, in most cases, the dissertation will grow out of work done for the topics or advanced seminar and Associated Writing courses and that there will be no sharp distinction between years of course work and years of dissertation writing. Students who entered in the year 2010 or later are expected to complete all degree requirements, including the dissertation, within six years (or five if the student elects not to participate in the teaching program).
Further Requirements: In addition, in order to receive the Ph.D., a student must be in residence as a full-time student for two full years at NYU.
Ph.D. Requirements for Good Standing
• University requirements must be met. To be in good standing, the Graduate School requires that students maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 and must have successfully completed 66 percent of credits attempted while at NYU, not including the current semester. Courses with grades of incomplete, W, and F are not considered successfully completed. MacCrackens must maintain a 3.3 average in order to keep their fellowships.
• There are strict departmental and university requirements governing incompletes. When an incomplete is issued, the University requires that the student must complete the course within twelve months of the beginning of the course, if the grade is not to convert to an F. For departmental requirements, see the department’s September 1, 2010 policy on incompletes.
• Submission of two third-year review papers by the date one week prior to the first day of the fifth semester in the program or by the deadline agreed upon if an extension was granted; successful completion of the third-year review by the last day of classes of the sixth semester.
• Successful completion of the prospectus meeting by the last day of classes of the sixth semester. The thesis prospectus examination should satisfy the committee that the candidate can write a passing thesis meeting the description in the candidate's submitted prospectus.
• Normally, cumulative average grade of A- after the end of the second year.
• Successful completion of 3 basic-point courses by the Course Completion Date of the second semester in residence; of 6 basic-point courses by the Course Completion Date of the third semester; of 8 basic-point courses by the Course Completion Date of the fourth semester; and of 11 basic-point courses by the Course Completion Date of the fifth semester. (For a description of what counts as a basic-point course, see the NYU Philosophy Department PhD. Program requirements.) The Course Completion Date in the fall semester is the first day of term; in the spring semester it is the beginning of the sixth week of classes.
• The University requires that students who fail the university criteria for good standing be placed on academic probation. A student who has not met stated departmental program requirements may also be placed on academic probation. For details about academic probation, see http://gsas.nyu.edu/page/grad.pp.manual.
A student who is not in good standing is not eligible to teach or assist in any course (regular or summer) starting in the term after the student has lost good standing.
Meaning of Grades
A VERY GOOD
A- GOOD: It is expected that this will be the most common grade.