philosophy

The Department of Philosophy offers work leading to the doctor of philosophy with a major in philosophy.

The M.A. is granted to Ph.D. program students when they pass their preliminary examinations and become a dissertator. When a student must leave the program early and is unable to complete a Ph.D., a terminal M.A. is granted upon satisfying the department's criteria for a master's degree.

The Ph.D. degree is awarded in recognition of a successfully completed program of advanced studies in philosophy, culminating in a dissertation which represents a contribution to philosophy or to philosophical scholarship.

The Ph.D. program falls into two major stages. The first consists of work that prepares the student for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Studies during the first stage of the program are devoted to acquiring the philosophical skills and learning needed to do philosophy in the second stage when writing a successful dissertation.

The department offers five years of support to all incoming graduate students. Support begins with the first fall semester and continues for at least nine additional semesters, provided the student makes satisfactory academic progress and carries out duties acceptably as a graduate assistant.

The department assigns a faculty member as placement officer and devotes a significant portion of staff resources to help graduates find employment.

This master’s program is offered for work leading to the Ph.D. Students may not apply directly for the master’s, and should instead see the admissions information for the Ph.D.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

We offer five years of support to all incoming graduate students, beginning their first fall semester, and continuing for at least nine additional semesters, provided the student makes satisfactory academic progress and carries out duties acceptably as graduate assistants. The support may vary from year to year between assistantships and lectureships.  

NOTE TO INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Please be advised that all students who are not U.S. citizens must prove that they have the financial means to live and study in the United States, before they are granted a visa. For an explanation of this policy, see International Applicant Financial Information.

ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL AID

Citizens of the United States and permanent residents should contact Student Financial Services (phone: 608-262-3060) for more information on eligibility, how and when to apply, and types of aid.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 33 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 21 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 30 credits must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations Contact the program for information on required assessments and examinations.
Language Requirements Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

Required COURSES

At least 21 credits must be earned in philosophy courses numbered between 800 and 989. The remaining credits may be earned either by transferring credits from graduate-level work (with a maximum of 9 credits) or by taking courses at the 400–900 level.

No more than one course at the 400–600 level nor more than one course at the 700 level can count toward the credit-hour requirements for the M.A.

Typically, students take 10 seminars at the 800–900 level and one 700-level seminar to satisfy this requirement.

No more than one 701 course can count toward the 33-credit-hour requirement for the M.A.

PHILOS 902 Proseminar in PhilosophyRequired of all first-year graduate students (3 credits).

History of Philosophy Courses: Students must take at least two courses for a total of 6 credits. 

900-level Seminars: The number of courses a student takes on this list depends on how many credits are taken in history seminars, transferred credits, etc. Typically students take between seven and nine seminars at the 900 level, each at 3 credits. 

PHILOS 903 Seminar: Epistemology3
PHILOS 911 Seminar-Logic3
PHILOS 916 Seminar-Philosophy of Language3
PHILOS 920 Seminar-Philosophy of Science:Causation, Explanation & Probability3
PHILOS 930 Seminar-History of Philosophy3
PHILOS 941 Seminar-Ethics3
PHILOS 951 Seminar-Philosophy of Mind3
PHILOS 955 Seminar Social and Political Philosophy3
PHILOS 960 Metaphysics Seminar3
PHILOS/​RELIG ST  961 Seminar-Philosophy of Religion3

Reading Seminar: Students typically take one PHILOS 701 Reading Seminar course before advancing to candidacy/earning the M.A. degree.

Contact the program for information on any additional required courses.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more tan 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 500 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

ProbatioN

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor.

To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects students to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

The assistant to the chair serves as the advisor for the first year or so. Students then select an advisor and, as coursework and other requirements are completed, a committee of faculty is selected by the student to serve as advisors. 

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

12 credits

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Other

n/a

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

1. Expert ability to think critically about arguments.

2. Expert ability to interpret complex texts accurately and analyze them logically.

3. Ability to communicate very precisely and concisely in both writing and in speech.

4. In-depth familiarity with the history of Western philosophy and the major debates within that tradition.

5. Interpretative charity, and intellectual honesty, which includes appropriate attribution to others of their ideas, and recognition and frankness about the limitations of one's own ideas.

Faculty: Professors Bengson, Brighouse, Fletcher, Gibson, Gottlieb, Hausman, Kelleher, Mackay, Masrour, Messina, Nadler, Paul, Schectman, Shafer-Landau, Shapiro, Sidelle, Sober, Southgate, Steinberg, Streiffer, Titlebaum, Vranas