The Department of Philosophy also offers a program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The degree requires 72 points. The department requires that 48 points (the “basic points”) be as specified below. A minimum of 40 of the 44 basic points must be taken in the NYU Department of Philosophy.
28 of the total 72 points may be in dissertation research, although the student may include other courses toward that total as well.
Coursework: The required 44 basic points consist of the following:
1. Proseminar, PHIL-GA 1000, (8 points). This seminar is open to first year philosophy PhD. 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 (36 points; typically nine 4-point courses). These nine courses are drawn from advanced introduction courses, intermediate-level courses, topics or advanced seminar courses, and research seminar courses. In special circumstances, students may earn 4 points (but no more than 4 points) of basic coursework by completing an Independent Study with a faculty member, in which they read up on an area of interest and write a paper with faculty guidance. There are three distribution categories: value theory (ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of law, and political philosophy), metaphysics and epistemology broadly conceived (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophy of logic), and history of philosophy (ancient, medieval, modern, 19th century, and early 20th century). Of the nine basic courses, at least two courses each must fall into two of these three distribution categories, and one course must fall into the other distribution category.
In addition, students are also required to take and pass Third Year Review Preparation Course, PHIL-GA 3600, and Work in Progress Seminar, PHIL-GA 3601.
Third-Year Review: Students use the Third Year Review Preparation Course, PHIL-GA 3600, to work with a faculty member to develop and refine an already existing paper or project. Except in special circumstances, it is expected that the Third Year Review Preparation Course paper will serve as the student’s Third Year Review submission.
By the date one week prior to the first day of the fifth semester in the program, students must submit one paper written while enrolled in the NYU Ph.D. program. To satisfy the requirement, the paper should be a substantial and polished piece of work that demonstrates that the student is able to take his or her philosophical research and writing to the high level appropriate for writing a dissertation.
Thesis Prospectus: During their third year in the program, students develop a prospectus for their dissertation. The prospectus document, between five and a strict maximum of fifteen pages long, should not be a philosophy paper, but rather a thesis plan that clearly articulates an interesting philosophical project, situates the project in the space of philosophical ideas, and gives an indication of the main relevant literature.
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.
Logic Requirement: The department’s logic requirement can be satisfied in four ways. Two ways are to take a graduate-level logic course in the NYU philosophy department 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 Third Year Review Preparation Course, PHIL-GA 3600 and continued in the Work in Progress Seminar, PHIL-GA 3601. Thus there will be no sharp distinction between years of course work and years of dissertation writing. Students are expected to complete all degree requirements, including the dissertation, within six years.