Orientations and Advising
Each August, the Director of Graduate Studies coordinates a departmental orientation for incoming students, to supplement the orientation sessions organized by the Graduate School. At that time, students select a mentor other than the DGS for an additional source of advice, although of course all the faculty and graduate students serve as unofficial advisors to each other. Thereafter, students meet with the DGS at least once a semester, to authorize registration for the next term, and with their mentor regularly.
The DGS also coordinates a departmental orientation on teaching every August, which is required for all active students in their second year and beyond. This supplements the Graduate School's orientation for first-time teaching assistants.
In addition, all the graduate students are reviewed formally by the faculty every Winter, and the DGS shares the individual results of that review in letters to each of the students. Graduate students are required to be on track by the time of this annual meeting, and Summer funding is contingent on being on track, without incompletes or overdue qualifying papers.
The department takes the training of its graduate students seriously. Students who fail as students or teachers may be dismissed from the program, and those who are not making satisfactory progress may be put on probation, whose terms call for specific achievements by specific dates. The department's Probation Policy is available here.
Overview of the Program
Year One. Twelve units (four courses) per semester.
Years Two through Four. Teaching Assistantship, assisting one course per semester. Nine units per semester, typically three courses per semester until the course requirements are completed (typically in the third year) and then research units thereafter. One Qualifying Paper per year, written during the Summer. If desired, teaching a course in University College or the Summer School in the third or fourth year. The dissertation workshop is joined in the third year, and the dissertation prospectus is completed by the end of the fourth year.
Year Five. Dissertation Fellowship. Drafting the dissertation, publishing, attending conferences.
Year Six. Teaching Assistantship, assisting one course per semester. Revising and defending the dissertation, applying for jobs, delivering a departmental colloquium.
Every student must complete the logic requirement, either by passing the exam given during orientation or by receiving at least a 'B' in 301: Symbolic Logic or 405: Philosophical Logic.
Every student must complete at least 42 units of graduate-level (400-level or above) philosophy courses, each with at least a 'B-'. No units can be transferred from other institutions. These units must include the following distribution requirements:
· the proseminar (Philos 502), taken in the first semester
· at least two additional 500-level seminars
· at least two core surveys in theoretical philosophy (4141 Advanced Epistemology, 4142 Advanced Metaphysics, 4065 Advanced Philosophy of Language, 4210 Advanced Philosophy of Science)
· at least two core surveys in practical philosophy (4315 Normative Ethical Theories, 4310 Metaethics, 4320 British Moral Theorists, 4400 Advanced Social and Political Philosophy)
· at least one core survey in ancient philosophy (451 Plato, 452 Aristotle, 4530 Hellenistic Philosophy)
· at least one core survey in modern philosophy (4550 Rationalism, 4560 Empiricism, 4575 Kant's Moral Theory, 4570 Kant's Critique of Pure Reason)
Students are not generally required to study any foreign language or fields outside philosophy, but might be individually required to pursue such studies for their particular research program. So some of our students complete considerable coursework in Classics, Political Science, or Women's Studies. Students are also permitted to take courses at the University of Missouri-St. Louis or St. Louis University, both of which have strong philosophers and lively philosophical communities.
Students register for twelve units per semester in the first year and nine per semester thereafter. So if they take only philosophy courses, they will complete their 42 required courses in the Fall of their third year. With courses outside of philosophy, some students will not complete the courses until their fourth year.
The Graduate School requires that every Ph.D. candidate complete 72 total units of research. The 42 units of courses contribute to that, as do graduate-level (400-level or above) courses in other programs. Undergraduate courses, such as language courses or 301: Symbolic Logic), do not count toward the total of 72, and contribute toward the student's fulltime status (twelve units per semester first year, nine thereafter) only if the DGS approves of the course and sends the approval to the Graduate School office. After courses are completed, students register for research units (Phil 591) as directed studies with individual faculty, still compiling the required nine per semester, until they complete 72 units total. After they complete 72 units, they register as continuing doctoral students (Phil 884 as long as they are in residence) until they graduate. Some students need to take time off; the Graduate School's website includes information about taking leaves of absence or working as a student not in residence.
The Graduate School runs a teaching orientation that is required for every new TA (and so required for our second-year graduate students), and the Philosophy Department runs its own teaching orientation that is required for all of our teaching graduate students. In addition, WUSTL's Teaching Center offers a variety of helpful workshops that are strongly recommended, and required for a special Teaching Certificate.
The most valuable pedagogical training occurs through live experience. Every student is also required to be a TA during TAship years and is strongly encouraged to teach his or her course at least once in WUSTL's University College or Summer School. Students teaching their own courses get feedback from the Director of Graduate Studies on their syllabi and arrange to be observed, for feedback (and for eventual teaching references).
Qualifying Paper Requirements For Students Starting the Graduate Program Prior to 2016:
Every student is required to submit three qualifying papers, due on the first day of classes in Years Two, Three, and Four. Typically, a qualifying paper is a revised seminar essay, but it can be written from scratch. It must, however, be substantially written at WUSTL: work written elsewhere, as an MA thesis, say, is unacceptable. Each qualifying paper must be categorized as a contribution to theoretical philosophy (epistemology and metaphysics, broadly construed), practical philosophy, or the history of philosophy. For those in the Philosophy Program, the three qualifying papers must cover at least two of these three divisions of philosophy. For those in PNP, the papers should be on substantially different topics.
The qualifying paper is submitted for blind review--no identifying marks of authorship--as an attachment to the department's Secretary, Sue McKinney, who forwards the submissions to the DGS. The DGS then assigns each QP to two faculty to referee, noting one as the "chair" responsible for shepherding the two referee reports back to Sue. The referees are to judge the QP as high pass, pass, revise and resubmit, or fail. If the referees cannot agree on a judgment, the DGS will appoint a third. Any QP judged "revise and resubmit" should be revised and resubmitted, with a cover letter explaining how the revision responds to the critiques of the previous draft, through Sue again, within a month of the verdict. If a QP does not pass in three drafts, it is judged to have failed.
(We know that in practice, at least many of the referees will know the author of the paper on the first submission, and because we want students to be able to seek out clarification and advice from the referees, most or all referees will know the author of the paper by any second submission. This is a situation in which the ideal of blind review struggles to compete with other important values.)
Students are allowed to fail two QPs, and after failing, they may submit two QPs at the start of the next year or submit their final QP on the first day of Year Five. Students who fail three QPs are dismissed from the program.
QPs are supposed to bridge the gap between seminar essays and published work. To pass, a QP must be a reasonable submission to a good journal, a submission the editor would need to send along to referees. Revise and resubmit is, for pedagogical reasons, the default judgment, since we want to help students work on the skills of revising toward strong, publishable essays. We expect that passed QPs will be submitted to conferences and journals, and that the third QP will serve as part of the dissertation.
Qualifying Paper Requirements For Students Starting the Graduate Program in 2016 or later:
All of the above is substantially similar, with the following changes:
2 QPs will be submitted in August of the 3rd year (at the end of the summer of the second year). Faculty will evaluate the QPs within 2-3 weeks, so a decision will be provided to the students on their performance by mid-September. Students are only allowed one attempt to replace/revise failed or R&Red papers. If a QP receives an R&R, it must be submitted by Nov. 1. The resubmission can be assessed only as a Pass or Fail. The assessment possibilities are then as follows:
Two passes: PP = Student stays in the program and begins work on their dissertation prospectus.
Two fails: FF = Student is asked to leave the program with an M.A.
Any other combination (PF/RRRR/RRP/RRF, etc) = Student is invited to submit revisions (for R&Rs) or another paper (for a failed QP). All second round QPs are due Nov. 1. As there are no second R&Rs, the only options on this second round are PP, FF, or PF:
PP = Student stays in the program, and does not write a third QP.
FF = Student is asked to leave the program
PF = Student must write a third QP.
March 1: Third QP is due; student is informed of results by March 15
April 15 the revisions are due. If the third QP passes, the student can remain in the program; it the QP fails, the student is asked to leave.
Students will be provided with a letter by the end of the first semester of their third year (exception: those needing to write a third QP), with this information about whether they may progress in the program. This will give students who are asked to leave to receive an MA and funding through the third year, to make plans to move on.
a. Students are expected to have submitted drafts of QPs in their first and second years to faculty for evaluation.
b. The quality of QPs is expected to be significantly higher than previously.
c. A third QP is, per the above, only required of some students.
Incoming class entering 2016 only would be subject to these changes.
QPs are supposed to bridge the gap between seminar essays and published work.
Every student in their third year and beyond is required to participate in the dissertation workshop. In this weekly workshop, one student presents work in progress to the other workshoppers and his or her dissertation advisor (or other relevant advisor). The work-in-progress might be a qualifying paper, a dissertation prospectus, or a dissertation chapter. It is circulated in advance, is presented in thirty minutes, and is the subject of ninety minutes of discussion. Every student in the workshop is required to contribute to the discussion.
By the fourth year, students are working on the prospectus of the dissertation, which should be a 15 to 20 page document stating a problem, a response to the problem, a reckoning of how this response contributes to existing philosophical literature, and an overview of the case for the response. The prospectus should be accompanied by a working bibliography.
The prospectus must be successfully defended before a committee of at least three examiners from the philosophy department.
A Title, Scope, and Procedure form--which can be found at the Graduate School's website--must be filed with the Graduate School by the end of the fourth year. Typically, this is filed when the prospectus is defended. In exceptional cases, it may be filed before the prospectus defense, and refiled with the defense.
The dissertation itself must satisfy the terms of the Graduate School's Doctoral Dissertation Guide, and it must pass the examination of a six-person committee, comprising at least four members of the department and at least one member of the WUSTL faculty outside the department.
Regular attendance is expected at the departmental and PNP colloquia and the ensuing receptions. Sometimes an exception may be granted by the DGS, for exmaple, if a student needs to take a class that is scheduled at the same time.
In addition, every student is required to deliver one colloquium before graduating. The faculty grade the colloquium and the student's performance in the question-and-answer period. Typically, students do this requirement in their last year, ideally as a practice "job talk."
Students in the PhD program have earned the MA once they have completed the following:
· 36 units of coursework, including at least 6 units in each of the three general categories of graduate surveys (theoretical, practical, historical) and at least 6 units of seminars, including 3 units for the proseminar; and
· one passed qualifying paper.
Students admitted for a terminal MA must complete the following:
· 36 units of coursework, including at least 6 units in each of the three general categories of graduate surveys (theoretical, practical, historical), logic (either 301 or 405 or the graduate logic exam) and at least 6 units of seminars, including 3 units for the proseminar;
· 6 units of thesis preparation; and
· an MA thesis, approved by a committee of three philosophy faculty, including the student's supervisor.
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