About the PhD Program in Philosophy

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.

Students must take the Proseminar in the fall semester of the first year and Teaching Skills in the spring semester of the second year.


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.

Further Information

Additional information and guidelines regarding our PhD Program may be found in the Graduate Studies Guidebook, or by contacting the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Michael Monahan.