- One year of full-time residence
- Course work (see below)
- Proficiency in logic
- Proficiency in two foreign languages
- Preliminary comprehensive examination
- Doctoral comprehensive examination
- Oral defense of the dissertation
Doctoral students are generally admitted with financial aid in the form of research assistantships and teaching fellowships. Research assistants and teaching fellows receive remission of tuition for required courses. Doctoral students are expected to pursue the degree on a full-time basis and to maintain satisfactory progress towards the completion of the degree.
The total course work required for the Ph.D. is 16 courses (48 credits). Students entering the program with an M.A. in philosophy may be given credit for up to six courses (18 credits) toward this requirement, but must take a minimum of ten courses (30 credits) in the Program. Students entering the program without an M.A., earn an M.A. on their way to the Ph.D.
In each graduate course, in which a student is registered for graduate credit, the student will receive one of the following grades at the end of the semester: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C, F, W, J, U, P, or I. In the Boston College Doctoral Program, graduate credit is granted for courses in which the student receives a grade of A, A-, B+, or B. No degree credit is granted for a course in which a student receives a grade of B- or below.
Students will be evaluated as making excellent, good, satisfactory, or poor progress toward completion of the degree. Any student who accumulates two (2) or more Incompletes for course work will automatically be regarded as making poor progress toward the degree. Any student who accumulates two (2) or more grades of C will also be regarded as making poor progress toward the degree. Any such student must meet immediately with the Director of the Graduate Program. Students judged to be making poor progress will be given specific directions for what they must accomplish in the next year in order to continue in the program beyond the following year. Students can be removed from the program after being evaluated as having made poor academic progress for two years. See Evaluation Policies & Procedures for Graduate.
A student who has not completed the research or written work for a course taken in the fall or spring semester or is absent from the course examination in either semester, may, with adequate reason at the discretion of the instructor, receive a temporary grade of Incomplete (I). All such I grades will automatically be changed to F on March 1 for the fall, August 1 for the spring, and October 1 for the summer.
A J grade is recorded when the grade is deferred. A faculty member may only assign a grade of J for courses that continue beyond the normal semester period. Such courses may include Internship, Dissertation Direction, and Student Teaching.
A U grade is recorded for ungraded courses such as doctoral continuation.
Graduate students who withdraw from a course after the drop/add period (first seven days of the semester) will have a “W” recorded in the grade column of their academic record.
Seminar in Teaching
To provide Ph.D. students with the requisite pedagogical instruction and supervision, the department requires first- and second-year Ph.D. students, who are or will become teaching fellows, to participate for four semesters in a series of training seminars. These seminars deal with such issues as preparation of syllabi and exam schedules, fundamentals of the art of teaching, grading, and advising. Each student presents a sample syllabus which is then discussed by the group. The Seminar in Teaching meets six times a semester, usually Friday afternoons. The Seminar does not count toward the doctoral requirement of 16 courses (48 credits).
Designed to introduce doctoral students to the main concepts and practices of scholarly writing in philosophy, this seminar will cover the basic principles of composition, the main techniques for writing about philosophical issues and about the history of philosophy, and the common practices of scholarly journals. The seminar will analyze classic examples of philosophical scholarship as well as participants’ own work in progress. In the course of the seminar participants will be expected to develop a paper of publishable quality.
Proficiency in Logic
The Ph.D. student must demonstrate proficiency in logic by taking PL577 (Introduction to Symbolic Logic) with a grade of “B” or better, or by attaining a score of 80% or better on the Logic Proficiency Examination, or by showing evidence of comparable prior course work. PL577 may count towards the requirement of 16 courses.
The Ph.D. student must demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages, Latin, Greek, French, or German. Proficiency may be demonstrated by receiving a grade of "B" or better in two semesters of the language at the elementary college level or one semester at the intermediate college level, in the 12-week summer language class for graduate students at Boston College, or by passing the department's own language examination. The requirement of the first language should be fulfilled before a graduate student begins their third year of study at BC. Both language requirements must be fulfilled before a student takes the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination. With departmental approval, a language that is central to the candidate's thesis may be substituted for one of the other languages. For further information on the language exam, please consult Professor Peter Kreeft.
Preliminary Comprehensive Examination
The Preliminary Comprehensive Examination is the same as the M.A. Comprehensive Examination. Ph.D. students are expected to take this examination at the end of their first year in the Program. Students sign up for the examination by completing the Masters Comprehensive Examination Selection Sheet (see Rosemarie DeLeo). For those students without an M.A. degree, after you have fulfilled all the requirements for the masters degree, you should apply to both the Graduate School and Student Services for your degree to be registered with the University.
Doctoral Comprehensive Examination
The Doctoral Comprehensive Examination is a two-hour oral examination. It is conducted by four professors and consists of four parts: the student's dissertation proposal, a systematic problem, and two major philosophers. It is the responsibility of the student to secure the cooperation of four faculty examiners and to negotiate with them the terms of reference for the examination. A Ph.D. student must complete all course requirements, and demonstrate proficiency in two languages and in logic, before taking the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination. It is the responsibility of the student to request the Registrar to send a final transcript of grades to the department, to complete the Selections form, and to submit it for department approval, together with a suggested date and time for the examination. Ph.D. students are expected to take the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination by November of their fourth year (third year for students entering the Program with the M.A. in hand). A failed examination may be retaken only once.
The Ph.D. student is expected to complete a dissertation, which embodies original and independent research, and demonstrates advanced scholarly achievement. The research must be carried out and the dissertation written under the direction of a tenure track faculty from the philosophy department. The student's dissertation proposal constitutes part of the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination. The manuscript of the dissertation must be prepared according to a recognized manual of style (e.g., the MLA).
The Ph.D. student is expected to defend the dissertation in a public oral examination. This examination must be held during the academic year (September to April). Prior to the examination the dissertation must be approved by the supervisor and by a second reader. The chair of the department serves ex officio as third reader. It is the responsibility of the student to comply with the regulations of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and with the requirements of the University Registrar, to provide the department with an abstract of the dissertation and a copy of the dissertation for distribution to faculty and graduate students no later than 30 days before the defense. After the defense, two copies of the dissertation (the original plus one copy) are to be turned in to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, along with the required forms. One copy of the dissertation should be left with the department.
All requirements for the doctorate must be completed within eight consecutive years from the beginning of doctoral studies. Extensions beyond this limit may be made only with departmental recommendation and the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
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