Jeremiah M. Hackett, Chair
Davis Whitney Baird, Ph.D., Stanford University, 1981
Michael Dickson, Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, 1995
Martin John Donougho, Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1980
Jeremiah M. Hackett, Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1983
R.I.G. Hughes, Ph.D., University of British Columbia, 1979
Jerald T. Wallulis, Ph.D., Notre Dame University, 1978, Undergraduate Director
Anne L. Bezuidenhout, Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1990, Graduate Director
Otávio Bueno, Ph.D., University of Leeds, 1999
F. Thomas Burke, Ph.D., Stanford University, 1992
George Khushf, Ph.D., Rice University, 1993
Christopher O. Tollefsen, Ph.D., Emory University, 1995
Ann Johnson, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2000
Matthew Kisner, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 2004
Heike Sefrin-Weis, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2002
The USC Department of Philosophy is an intellectually active and pluralistic community offering a congenial environment for graduate study. We host numerous invited speakers, workshops, and major conferences, and we house the editorial offices of three philosophical journals: The International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, and Techné. In addition, the department is leading a large interdisciplinary NSF-funded project examining nanotechnology in society.
The history of philosophy is foundational in the undergraduate and graduate programs and is a crucial part of the methodology of the faculty. Individual faculty members work in a wide range of areas in collaboration with various units on campus, including the School of Medicine, the Center for Bioethics, the School of the Environment, and the NanoCenter. The department has significant clusters of faculty who work in two special areas of research:
- The history and philosophy of science: We emphasize issues and methods that are closely tied to the actual content of the sciences, whether contemporary or historical. The faculty has particular strengths in the philosophy of physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, engineering, and technology.
- Theoretical and practical ethics: We see normative issues as intertwined with a host of other philosophical, scientific, and historical issues. The faculty has particular strengths in normative ethical theory, bioethics, engineering ethics, environmental ethics, and the ethics of emrging technologies, especially nanotechnology.
Additionally, individual faculty members have research and teaching interests in the following areas: ancient philosophy, early modern philosophy, eighteenth to nineteenth century German idealism, American pragmatism, twentieth century analytic philosophy, existentialism and phenomenology, contemporary European social philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of language and mind, and philosophy of logic. The department collaborates with other units on campus, including biology, chemistry, classics, comparative literature, history, linguistics, physics, psychology, religious studies, and women's studies.
The philosophy department admits new students into the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in the fall semester of each year. Applications for admission are reviewed during the previous spring term. Normally, to be admitted with full standing into either program, a student will have completed 18 hours of course work in philosophy above the introductory level. Applicants must also have met the general admission requirements of The Graduate School.
Applicants should arrange for three letters of recommendation, transcripts, and GRE scores to be sent to The Graduate School. Applicants whose native language is not English should also arrange for TOEFL or IELTS Intl. exam scores to be sent to The Graduate School. In addition, all applicants should send a sample of philosophical writing (maximum length 6,000 words) and a brief statement of purpose (400 words) to the department.
Letters of recommendation should come from persons familiar with the applicant's academic achievement and potential and should specifically address the applicant's potential for success in a graduate degree program.
Transcripts of prior undergraduate and graduate work must show sufficient promise of ability to do graduate work. Hence the department looks for GPAs in the range from 3.00 to 4.00 for all undergraduate work and 3.50 to 4.00 for all graduate work (on a 4.00 scale).
We look for GRE scores above 680 on the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning portions of the exam. Scores of at least 5 on the analytical writing section are generally acceptable.
Applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit a satisfactory score on the TOEFL or the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam. For admission to the Ph.D. program, applicants should submit a TOEFL score of at least 590 (243 computer-based score). For admission to the M.A. program, applicants must achieve a minimum score of 570 (230 computer-based), which is also the minimum requirement for entrance into The Graduate School. The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5.
Evidence of high potential from several parts of an applicant's file may occasionally outweigh a low test score or a low GPA.
Students whose undergraduate major was not philosophy may be considered for admission on a conditional basis. If admitted, special programs will be arranged to provide them with the background necessary for graduate study. Unsuccessful applicants to the Ph.D. program who do not already have a master's degree in philosophy will automatically be considered for admission to the M.A. program.
Students are normally admitted to the program only in the fall semester. The absolute deadline for applying for the fall semester is July 1. However, to receive full consideration for financial assistance, applications should be completed before January 15. Applicants who do not meet the January deadline will still be considered for and may even be awarded support, but opportunities become increasingly limited after this date.
The requirements for degrees include those stated in the Graduate Studies Bulletin for all M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. The following requirements are specific to the Department of Philosophy.
All philosophy graduate students must maintain at least a B average for all courses taken and will be asked to leave the program if a grade below B is received in more than two courses.
Master of Arts in Philosophy
Students in the M.A. program may elect either the thesis or nonthesis option.
1. Course requirement. Students in the M.A. program who choose to write a thesis are required to take eight graduate philosophy courses (24 nonthesis semester hours), at least four of which must be at the 700 level. Without a thesis, 11 courses (33 credit hours) are required, at least 6 of which must be at the 700 level.
2. Logic requirement. Successful completion of PHIL 511 Symbolic Logic, taken either as an upper-level undergraduate course or as part of the graduate program, is required of all M.A. students.
3. Language requirement. A reading knowledge of one foreign language is required of all M.A. students. The USC language department administers tests of foreign language competency.
4. All M.A. students are required to pass an M.A. comprehensive examination. Students who choose the thesis option must also write a master's thesis.
Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy
1. Course requirement. Students in the Ph.D. program are required to take 16 graduate philosophy courses (48 semester hours other than 899), at least eight of which are at the 700 level. Ph.D. students are required to pass four core courses, normally within the first two years of course work, and at least one course in philosophy of science. Ph.D. students are also required to pass at least one course in each of three historical areas. The proseminar cannot be used to satisfy the core, science, or history requirements.
2. Proseminar requirement. All Ph.D. students must take PHIL 765 Proseminar, in their first term in the program.
3. Core courses. All Ph.D. students must pass the following core courses, normally within the first two years of course work: ethical theory (PHIL 514 or 527), symbolic logic (PHIL 511), epistemology (PHIL 763), and metaphysics (PHIL 764).
4. Philosophy of science requirement. Ph.D. students must pass at least one course in philosophy of science. Which courses count as satisfying this requirement is at the discretion of the graduate director.
5. History requirement. Ph.D. students must pass at least one course in each of three historical periods: ancient to Renaissance (PHIL 505, 506, 507, 540, 701), modern (PHIL 501, 502, 508, 509, 705, 707, 723), and recent (PHIL 503, 504, 706, 709, 721).
6. Language requirement. A reading knowledge of one foreign language is required of all Ph.D. students; in addition, when a students research area demands knowledge of a particular foreign language, the student will be expected to be proficient in that language.
7. In order to be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, students must have: a) produced written work of a high standard in their courses and b) passed the oral Ph.D. qualifying examination.
8. Students are also required to pass a two-part Ph.D. comprehensive examination (consisting of both a written and an oral part) and to write and defend a doctoral dissertation.
Requirement for Ph.D. students with Teaching Assistantships
Advanced Ph.D. students with teaching assistantships may be given responsibility for teaching a course. Before graduate students are allowed to teach a course, they must have taken PHIL 790 Teaching Philosophy for at least one semester. Students must also take this one-credit-hour course during any semester when they are actually teaching a course. This course does not count toward the 16 courses required for the Ph.D. degree.
M.A. Comprehensive and Ph.D. Qualifying Exams
The M.A. comprehensive and Ph.D. qualifying exams will be written exams in the history of philosophy, covering three separate areas: ancient to renaissance, modern, and recent. The exams are based on reading lists of primary sources. Ph.D. qualifying exams will be based on a more extensive reading list than M.A. comprehensive exams.
M.A. students will take the exam at the end of the summer after their first year. Ph.D. students will take the exam at the end of the summer of their second year. Passing the exam is required for M.A. students to get their degree. It is required for Ph.D. students to be admitted to candidacy.
Course Descriptions (PHIL)