Learning Outcomes

  • Philosophical Acumen. Students will demonstrate proficiency in formulating, defending, and critiquing complex philosophical arguments.
  • History of Philosophy. Students will demonstrate proficiency in the fields of ancient, medieval, and modern philosophy.
  • Contemporary Philosophy. Students will demonstrate proficiency in the field of contemporary philosophy.
  • Language Ability. Students will demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages (normally Ancient Greek, Latin, French, or German).
  • Teaching Skills. Students will demonstrate proficiency in teaching university-level undergraduate philosophy classes.

Requirements for the
Ph.D. Degree


Ph.D. students take a minimum of 48 graduate course credit hours (16 courses). These must include at least a minimum of one in ancient philosophy, one in medieval philosophy, one in modern philosophy, and one in contemporary philosophy (note: not all graduate courses offered by the department fall into one of these categories). Ph.D. students normally complete their coursework in three years, taking 9 credits (3 courses) each semester during their first two years and 6 credits (2 courses) each semester during their third year. Later years are dedicated to dissertation work.

Transfer Credits/Advanced Standing

After a reasonable period has elapsed to observe performance at Duquesne, the Chair may approve the transfer of up to 9 credits of prior graduate coursework in philosophy. In some cases, larger transfers may be allowed for philosophy coursework completed at non-U.S. institutions. Please note that this Philosophy graduate transfer credit policy is more limited than the general Graduate School policy. Students accepted to the Ph.D. from our own M.A. program may count all M.A. coursework toward the Ph.D. credit requirement.

Extra-Departmental Courses

When relevant to a student's research and with the approval of the Chair, six credits (2 courses) taken through other departments or at other universities may be applied toward the coursework credits requirement. Students who transfer the full 9 credits toward advanced standing may count only three extra-departmental credits (1 course) toward the coursework credits requirement.

Preliminary Research Presentation

Each semester, the department holds a forum in which all doctoral students with newly submitted dissertation prospectus publicly present their projects to the entire department. All faculty and graduate students attend these events and have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussion about the project.

Language Requirements

Ph.D. students must demonstrate research competence in two foreign languages (normally ancient Greek, Latin, French, or German). Other languages may be allowed when demonstrably related to dissertation research. Language requirements must be satisfied before dissertation prospectus submission and so are usually completed during the first three to four years of the program. Tuition assistance is usually available for semester language courses at Duquesne and intensive summer language study abroad.

Supervised Teaching & Pedagogical Training

Ph.D. students serve as Teaching Assistants for their first two years and then teach their own introductory-level courses. During the fall semesters of their second and third years, students enroll in the Philosophy Graduate Teaching Seminar (PHIL 689/690), with additional pedagogical training provided through the Center for Teaching Excellence and periodic classroom observation by members of the faculty (registering for Supervised Teaching of Philosophy PHIL 691/692 during their first two semesters of teaching).

Grant Submission Requirement

All Ph.D. students are required to make at least one application for an external grant (for research, travel, language study, or other relevant purpose) before submitting a dissertation prospectus. A copy of the grant application should be sent to the Chair.


A prospectus detailing plans for dissertation research may be submitted once all coursework requirements, language requirements, grant submission requirements, and comprehensive exams are complete. The prospectus should be discussed with the student's proposed Dissertation Director and is not approved until formally accepted by the director and two readers. An approved prospectus must be submitted to the Chair no later than two years after completing the comprehensive exams (in most cases, the prospectus is submitted within six months). At this point, the student commences dissertation research and writing. Dissertations must be completed in time to graduate no later than eight years after entry into the Ph.D. program. The dissertation is complete once revised to the satisfaction of the Director and other members of the committee, successfully presented at a public defense, and formally submitted to the University. Defenses may be scheduled only after the Director and all readers have had the opportunity to request revisions and reviewed a version they deem ready to pass.

Dissertation Credits

After completing all coursework credits, Ph.D. students must register for 6 dissertation research credits (a minimum of 1 credit/semester) (PHIL 701). These credits do not count toward coursework requirements.

Continuation Credits

After completing coursework and dissertation credits, Ph.D. students must register for fee-based continuation credits (GRAS 701) to maintain their enrollment status at Duquesne. Continuous registration does not apply to students on leave of absence. These credits do not count toward the coursework requirements detailed above. Note that online registration for these credits is not available; a message stating intent to register for continuation credits must be sent to the Dean's Office and the Philosophy Department each semester.

Satisfactory Progress

The Chair and Director of Graduate Studies periodically review progress toward degree. Students deemed not to be making satisfactory progress may be placed on probation or asked to leave the program. University policy requires all work leading to a Ph.D. degree to be completed no more than eight years after matriculation.

Degree Conferral

Ph.D. candidates must make a formal application for the degree at the office of the Registrar prior to the date specified in that year's University Calendar and should be present at graduation. Students must make complete settlement of their financial accounts with the University before any degree will be conferred.

Exchange Programs

Students who wish to pursue an exchange program, such as the one set up with Heidelberg University, may only do so after finishing their required coursework at Duquesne.