Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PhD in Philosophy


Entering PhD students must have a Bachelor of Arts degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution. They should have a solid background in philosophy, ordinarily an undergraduate major, including coursework in the history of ancient and early modern European philosophy as well as in metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, and social-political philosophy.

Required Courses for the PhD

All requirements for the MA described below must be satisfied as first stage of doctoral work. A total of 48 semester hours beyond a bachelor's degree are required for the PhD Students are also required to complete seven courses in the areas of:

  • Ancient
  • Medieval
  • Modern
  • Continental
  • Analytic
  • Metaphysics/epistemology
  • Ethics/social-political philosophy

PHIL 590: Dissertation Proposal Seminar, a non-credit semester long course devoted to the writing of the dissertation proposal, is also a requirement for those entering on or after Fall 2014.

Foreign Language Requirement

A reading knowledge of one foreign language, e.g., German, French, Greek or Latin, is normally required for the doctorate, normally one that the student will use as a research tool for the dissertation. The requirement must be met at two levels: (1) basic language competence and (2) facility with the language in doing philosophy research. The dissertation topic may also require knowledge of additional foreign languages. In exceptional cases students may petition that the research tool requirement be fulfilled in another way than by knowledge of a foreign language, e.g., by a knowledge of statistics.

PhD Examination

The only PhD examination the department requires is a candidacy examination. This examination may be taken after a student has completed all course distribution requirements and the first level of the language or other research tool requirement for the degree. The examination focuses on a dissertation proposal and a draft of the first chapter or an extended review of the literature relevant to the dissertation. It is an oral examination, designed to assess whether the proposal is well formed and a project which the student is prepared to carry out successfully.

Dissertation and Oral Defense

The last stage of the PhD is the writing and defense of a dissertation. The dissertation is written under the direction of a member of the department's graduate faculty, and must be read and approved by at least two other readers who are ordinarily members of the department's graduate faculty. Formally, the dissertation begins with the submission of a "Thesis Outline." Upon approval of this outline the student is formally advanced to candidacy. The dissertation is completed with the passing of the public oral defense of the work and its acceptance by the Graduate School.

The MA Degree as Part of the PhD

The MA degree is ordinarily earned as the first part of a student's PhD work. An MA in Social Philosophy is also available for students not pursuing the doctorate.

Required Courses for the MA in Philosophy

Thirty hours of graduate coursework (10 courses) are required for students in the MA program. These courses must include five of the seven PhD distribution requirements, namely courses in contemporary Analytic Philosophy, Contemporary Continental Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy, and Modern Philosophy.

There is no language requirement in the MA program.

MA Examination

Doctoral students earning the non-terminal MA must pass an oral examination on a research paper they have written. The focus of the examination is on the argument and analysis of the paper, as well as on the background thought that the argument and analysis presuppose. Further details about the MA examination for doctoral students may be found on the Graduate School's Academic Policies webpage in the department's Graduate Student Handbook.