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Graduate Program

 Program Overview

The Philosophy Department inaugurated a PhD program in the Fall of 1990, in preparation for the increased demand for university and college professors. The PhD program complements an active MA program, which has been in place since 1968, and an expanding undergraduate program, which has nearly 100 majors.

The program is designed to address a felt need in the profession of philosophy for scholars able to transcend the confines of a specialty. In their research, members of the department address major issues of both Anglo-American and continental philosophy as well as scholarly issues concerning major figures of the history of philosophy. This diversity is coupled with a unique spirit of cooperation throughout the faculty.

The course of study of graduate students is designed to take advantage of this breadth and attitude of cooperation. Each student receives a thorough grounding in the history of philosophy and familiarity with both the contemporary analytic and continental traditions, in order to achieve an understanding of the place of his or her areas of research within the several basic areas and methodologies of philosophy and the historical tradition on which they are based.

Specializations are available, supported in each case by several members of the department, in most areas of analytic and continental philosophy and the history of philosophy, as well as on topics and issues that cross traditional boundaries.

Seminars are small, and students receive individual attention, often from several members of the department with overlapping research interests. The atmosphere in the department is congenial. There are many informal opportunities for ongoing philosophical discussion among students and faculty away from the classroom.

PhD Program

The PhD program is structured to provide a broad background in the history of philosophy and in the different contemporary methodologies, and then to proceed to the specialization requisite for the dissertation. It is designed to avoid a premature and overly narrow specialization and to ensure a competence in the basic fields of philosophy as a foundation for subsequent concentration in one or more areas of continental philosophy, analytic philosophy or the history of philosophy. Graduates will thus be prepared to teach not only their specialty, but also a wide variety of basic courses, and will be prepared to function effectively as teachers and colleagues even in departments in which the main focus is in a tradition or methodology different from their own concentration. They will also be able to apply their expertise to areas of endeavor outside academia, such as law, publishing, medicine, computer design, theology, and secondary education.

Students whose objective is a PhD in philosophy at the University of Memphis and who satisfy the admission requirements should apply directly to the PhD program. Applicants not admitted to the PhD program because of lack of space will be considered for the MA program if they indicate their desire to be so considered by marking MA/PhD on their application and letter of recommendation forms. (Students in the MA program may apply for admission to the PhD program).

Course Requirements
The aim of the department of philosophy is that each student has an understanding of the place of his or her areas of research within the basic areas and methodologies of philosophy, including both the analytic and continental traditions and the common historical basis on which they are founded. To foster this aim, the following course distribution requirements are included among the requirements for the PhD.

Students must take a core consisting of: (a) four courses in the history of philosophy (at least one in ancient and one in modern); (b) two courses in metaphysics, epistemology, and related areas; and (c) two courses in normative areas of philosophy (at least one of which must be in ethics).

At least one course must be a systematic study of a major figure. At least two courses are in the analytic tradition and two courses in the continental tradition. These will normally be courses in the eight-course core described in the preceding paragraph. Students must take the proseminar on writing and research methods and the teaching of philosophy, normally during the first semester.

Several assistantships are available for students in the PhD program. First year students serve as graders, tutors, or discussion leaders. After the second year, PhD students teach sections of introductory courses. Assistantships are normally for a five-year period for students making satisfactory progress toward the degree. Applications received after January 5th cannot be guaranteed consideration for an assistantship for the fall semester.

Further Information
Additional information and guidelines regarding our PhD Program may be found in the Graduate Studies Guidebook (link on right), or by contacting the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Timothy Roche.

MA Program

The department of philosophy offers a comprehensive and balanced program of study leading to the degree of Master of Arts in Philosophy. The aim of the program is twofold. It is designed to provide comprehensive training in philosophy for students seeking work beyond the baccalaureate, as background for such areas as law, theology, psychology, and cognitive science, or solely for self-enrichment. For students intending to continue their study in a doctoral program, the program also provides the thorough preparation necessary for admission to and success in a PhD program.

Course Requirements
The program requires 33 semester hours of course work for students who do not write a thesis, 30 hours for students who write a thesis. These must include (a) two courses in the history of philosophy; (b) two courses from metaphysics, epistemology and related areas; (c) two courses in normative areas of philosophy; and (d) at least one course taught from the contemporary analytic tradition and one taught from the continental tradition.

Several assistantships are available for students in the MA program. Assistantships are renewed for the second year for assistants making satisfactory progress in the two year MA program. Applications received after January 5th cannot be guaranteed consideration for an assistantship for the following fall semester.

Further Information
Additional information and guidelines regarding our MA Program may be found in the Graduate Studies Guidebook (link on right), or by contacting the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Timothy Roche.

Erasmus Mundus Program

The Erasmus Mundus Program is a Master's program comprised of a consortium of seven European Union universities (including those in Germany, Belgium, France, and the Czech Republic) and three "third-country" partners from non-EU countries. The Department of Philosophy at the University of Memphis is one of those “third-country” partners. The program provides students and scholars from EU participating universities the opportunity to study philosophy at the University of Memphis. The program also provides our graduate students and faculty the opportunity to travel as visiting scholars to Departments of Philosophy within the consortium.

Application guidelines and further information are available here: .

Departmental Awards

For further information regarding deadlines and application guidelines for these awards, please consult the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Timothy Roche.

Hillary Johnson Memorial Graduate Student Teacher Award

This award is in memory of Hillary Johnson, a graduate student in philosophy whose life was tragically ended. The award is given each year to a student who has exhibited exceptional teaching skills. Award recipients receive $300. 

Graduate Student Departmental Service Award
This award is given each year to a graduate student who has exceeded expectations regarding departmental service. Award recipients receive $100. 

Bornblum Graduate Student Travel Award
This award was made possible by the generous donation of David Bornblum and was made in honor of his father Bert Bornblum, a long time friend of the philosophy department. It provides, on a competitive basis, funds to curb the expense of professional travel for graduate students. Further information is available here. Applications for the Bornblum Travel Award should be submitted to Dr. Kas Saghafi.

Philosophy Study Abroad Program

The Philosophy Department at the University of Memphis is pleased to make available to eligible PhD students the opportunity to study overseas. Given eligibility and approval, the student may study in an approved university or more generally in an approved city for one semester. The program is intended to allow our best students to further their study of Continental or Analytic philosophy by means of attending university philosophy seminars and by means of investigating archives such as those at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Further information is available here.

Graduate School Awards

For further information regarding deadlines and application guidelines for the following awards, please consult the Graduate School's website.

Provost's Predoctoral Diversity Awards
These awards are bestowed by at least two departments each year, based on how well various requirements have been met. The amount of the awards vary by discipline and will be renewable for up to five years. All include a tuition scholarship. Each year departments compete based on their record of recruiting and graduating minority students. Students must be nominated by the department in order to apply for these awards.

The University of Memphis Society, Inc. Doctoral Fellowship
Established by UMS, Inc., this fellowship is awarded annually to a full-time doctoral student based on exceptional academic achievement. The amount varies from year to year.

Morton Thesis/Dissertation Awards
The result of a generous donation by S. Morgan Morton ('63), these awards honor an outstanding master's and doctoral student whose thesis or dissertation prospectus has been approved by their committee. The thesis award is $500 and the dissertation award is $750.

Graduate Assistant Meritorious Teaching Awards
These awards are given to two outstanding teaching assistants. Candidates are nominated by faculty, students, alumni, or their respective college dean. Each recipients is awarded $500.

Part-Time Master's Fellowships
Awarded to entering students, these $1500 awards ($750 per semester) do not include a tuition scholarship.

Links & Documents

Graduate Program
   PhD Program
   MA Program
   Erasmus Mundus Program
   Departmental Awards
   Graduate School Awards
Graduate Student News

Bornblum Travel Award Guidelines
Graduate Studies Guidebook
Erasmus Mundus Application Guidelines

Graduate Instructor Evaluation Form
GI Form GI Form

Graduate Teaching Assistant Evaluation Form GTA Form GTA Form

Certificate Programs
African American Literature
Disability Studies
Cognitive Science
Women's and Gender Studies
Recent Graduate Courses


   Fall 2014 word
   Spring 2015 word

   Fall 2013
   Spring 2014

   Fall 2012
   Spring 2013

   Fall 2011
   Spring 2012


Exam Guidelines
   Ancient Comp Guidelines
   Modern Comp Guidelines
Exam Schedule
   Exam schedule 14-15 pdf 

Comprehensive Exams
   Ancient Philosophy 10-11 
   Ancient Philosophy 11-12 
   Ancient Philosophy 12-13 pdf
   Ancient Philosophy 2014 pdf
   Modern Philosophy 

   Ancient Philosophy 2015 word

Graduate School Links
Thesis/Dissertation Guidelines

Graduation Requirements

Graduation Forms
   Intent to Graduate Card
   Master's Degree Candidacy Form
   Doctoral Degree Candidacy Form
   Diploma Mailing Card
   Cap and Gown Order Form

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Last Updated: 2/27/15