PhD in Philosophy

There are two streams in the Ph.D. program in Philosophy at Western. Students entering with an MA (as most do) are enrolled in a four-year funded program. In their first year, students take courses; in their second, they take a comprehensive exam in their main research area and complete a course that will lead to the writing and defense of a thesis prospectus; their third and fourth years are spent writing their dissertations. The courses and supervision available reflect the strengths and diversity of interests of the faculty, which collect along five principal fields: feminist philosophy; history of philosophy (ancient, medieval and modern); moral, political and legal philosophy; philosophy of mind and language; and philosophy of science (including mathematics and logic).

There is also a five-year program for students entering with a BA. Students in this stream are funded for five years.  The program is as described above but with an extra year of coursework at the beginning.

Program Requirements & Timelines

Graduate students are expected to meet the program's progression requirements ("milestones") in a timely fashion according to the schedule detailed here. PhD students are required to submit an annual progress portfolio online by May 15th each year.

Four Year Stream

Course Requirements
During their first year, students are required to complete 6 half-credit courses in which they must achieve an overall average of at least 75% to maintain minimal good standing. In the second term of their second year they will take the prospectus course (see below). See: PhD Program > Requirements > Course Requirements

Competence in Elementary Logic Requirement
Students must demonstrate competence in logic. They should aim to do this in their first year. See: PhD Program > Requirements > Competency & Comprehensive Exams

Area Comprehensive Examination Requirement
Students are expected to pass the comprehensive examination in their intended area of dissertation research by the end of their second year in the PhD program. See: PhD Program > Requirements > Competency & Comprehensive Exams

Dissertation Prospectus and Prospectus Defence Requirements
Students will take the Prospectus Course in the second term of their second year and are expected to complete and defend their dissertation prospectus before commencing their final year in the program. See: PhD Program > Requirements > Prospectus Requirements

Dissertation Research and Thesis Defence
Students are expected to defend their thesis in their final year in the program. See: PhD Program > Requirements > Thesis 

Five Year Stream (Direct Entry)

Course Requirements
During their first year, students are required to complete 6 half-credit courses. During their second year, students are required to complete 5 half-credit courses. In the second term of their third year they will take the prospectus course (see below). They must achieve an overall average of at least 75% to maintain minimal good standing. See: PhD Program > Requirements > Course Requirements

Area Comprehensive Examination Requirement
Students are expected to pass the comprehensive examination in their intended area of dissertation research by the end of their third year in the PhD program. See: PhD Program > Requirements > Competency & Comprehensive Exams

Dissertation Prospectus and Prospectus Defence Requirements
Students will take the Prospectus Course in the second term of their third year and are expected to complete and defend their dissertation prospectus before commencing their final year in the program. See: PhD Program > Requirements > Prospectus Requirements

Dissertation Research and Thesis Defence
Students are expected to defend their thesis in their final year in the program. See: PhD Program > Requirements > Thesis
 

Progression Requirement Enforcement

If a student fails to observe these guidelines, the Graduate Program Chair, after consultation with the student and, if appropriate, the student’s supervisor, will draw up a plan of work that the student will be expected to follow in order to make up whatever deficit is at issue. Where the Graduate Affairs Committee determines that a student's progress is especially slow or problematic, the student may be put on Probation and be required to satisfy a specified plan of work by a deadline. If the student should fail to meet the Probationary requirements, the Graduate Program Chair may recommend to SGPS that the student be withdrawn from the program on academic grounds. In highly exceptional circumstances, conspicuous failure to meet the Progression requirements may lead to a student being withdrawn without benefit of any Probationary period. In addition, both the MA and PhD programs have requirements for satisfactory performance in courses, as indicated below. A student who fails to achieve these standards will be considered not to be making satisfactory progress towards the degree and may be required to withdraw.

Under special circumstances these guidelines may be modified to meet the needs of students who are admitted to the program without adequate preparation in philosophy or who otherwise require a special course of study. In such cases, the students involved will be informed, in writing and before the last day for course registration in the relevant term, of the alternative set of guidelines they will be required to observe.

Related Links: 
Philosophy > Graduate > Important Dates
SGPS > Students > Calendar of Events