Graduate Program Details
The graduate program in philosophy at UNM is a two-track program: one track leads to the M.A. degree and the other to the Ph.D. degree. The two programs are independent of each other in admission and conception. Successful completion of the M.A. program is neither required for admission to the Ph.D. program nor entitles the applicant to admission to the Ph.D. program. Thus, those who wish to pursue the Ph.D. degree in philosophy at UNM should apply directly to the Ph.D. program. Ph.D. applicants who are not accepted to the Ph.D. program and do not yet have an M.A. degree in Philosophy will automatically be considered for the M.A. program. This document describes the department's policies and requirements for both programs; it should be read in conjunction with the relevant sections of the UNM Catalog.
For a pdf version of the Graduate Program Details, please click here.
For UNM graduate regulations and information, please review the online catalog available here. For UNM graduate regulations and information, please contact:
The Office of Graduate Studies
MSC 03 2180
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
Phone: (505) 277-2711
Fax: (505) 277-7405
I. General Policies and Requirements
A. Background Core in Philosophy
All graduate students are expected to have, by the time they file their Program of Studies or Advance to Candidacy (but preferably earlier), a background core in Philosophy consisting of UNM Philosophy courses numbered 202 (Modern Philosophy), 211 (Greek Philosophy), 352 (Theory of Knowledge), 354 (Metaphysics), 356 (Symbolic Logic), and 358 (Ethical Theory). Equivalent courses taken at other institutions may substitute for these courses. As per UNM policy, it is expected that a student earn at least a B (3.0) in any course taken to meet undergraduate deficiencies or prerequisites. Therefore, a course will satisfy the Background Core requirement only if a grade of B or higher is earned. Ph.D. students must have passed PHIL 356 or its equivalent with a grade of A- or better.
Effective fall 2012, students admitted into the program who have not yet satisfied the Background Core requirement should follow these general rules: (1) he/she should complete four of the six Background Core courses prior to enrolling in graduate-level Philosophy courses, and (2) he/she should complete the Background Core courses that are pre-requisites for the graduate-level courses in which they enroll (e.g., a student should have completed the modern philosophy Background Core before enrolling in Phil *410: Kant). Students who have not met these requirements will only be allowed to enroll in a graduate-level course with prior permission from both the Graduate Director and the instructor for the course.
B. Graduate Advising
1. Every graduate student is required to meet with the Graduate Director
as soon as possible upon arrival at UNM to begin his or her graduate
studies in philosophy.
2. The Graduate Director will assign each graduate student a faculty mentor who will serve as the student’s advisor until he/she forms an MA Exam or Thesis Committee or a Dissertation Committee. Students, however, are also encouraged to consult with other members of the department regarding their course of study.
3. After forming an Exam, Thesis, or Dissertation Committee, the student should have an informal meeting with his or her committee once every semester (excluding summer).
4. Every graduate student must have each semester’s course of studies approved by the Graduate Director prior to registration.
- Each semester, the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC), with the approval
of the department, will designate appropriate courses as:
- H(A) (history of ancient philosophy),
- H(M) (history of modern philosophy),
- H (history of philosophy),
- Et (ethics),
- M (metaphysics),
- E (epistemology).
These labels are referred to as Distribution Requirement Designations (DRD’s); they indicate the distribution requirements that may be fulfilled by taking those courses (see II.D1, II.D2, and III.E).
- Courses designated as H(A) are devoted mostly to the work of the Pre-Socratics or the work of Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle. Courses covering other major philosophers of antiquity may also be designated as H(A) subject to approval by the department.
- Courses designated as H(M) are devoted mostly to the work of one or more of the following philosophers: Hobbes, Rousseau, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Courses covering other major philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries may also be designated as H(M) subject to approval by the department.
- Courses designated as H are devoted mostly to works completed before 1950 by major figures of Western philosophy.
- A course receiving M, E, or Et designation will focus on issues in ethics, metaphysics, or epistemology, rather than on historical movements or contexts, and will include substantial attention to contemporary discussions of these problems.
D. Proseminar Requirement
All entering graduate students are required to take the Graduate Proseminar in Philosophy (PHIL 520) within their first year in residence. This course will serve the students as an introduction to graduate study in philosophy at UNM. This includes introduction to the faculty and to their research programs, as well as an opportunity for scholarly interaction with fellow graduate students. The course is offered once a year, typically during the Fall semester. Students taking the Proseminar will register for 1 credit hour of PHIL 520 with the Graduate Director and earn Credit or No Credit for the course.
E. Grade Requirement
Any course that fulfills a distribution requirement must be passed with a grade of B or better. Also, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 for all graduate-level courses taken while in graduate status.
II. The M.A. Program
The M.A. program is designed to give the student a solid foundation in philosophy beyond the undergraduate level, whether the student's goal is further graduate work in philosophy, graduate work in other disciplines, employment in some field related to philosophy, or simply the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity. All M.A. students will be accepted into the program as Plan II students. In special circumstances, a student may petition the Faculty to take the Plan I option. The student should explain in this petition why he or she thinks that Plan I would be in his or her case a more appropriate program of studies than Plan II. Requirements specific to Plan I are marked with the superscript '1', and requirements specific to Plan II are marked with the superscript '2'.
A. Time Limit
All work toward the M.A. degree (including coursework transferred from another institution) must be completed within a seven-year period. This seven-year period commences with the first graduate course counted toward the degree.
B1. Graduate Credit Hour Requirements (Plan I)
An M.A. student under Plan I must complete a minimum of 24 graduate hours of coursework credit: at least 6 hours must be at the 500-level, no more than 6 hours can be independent-study credit (498/551/651), and no more than 3 hours can be workshop credit. If a minor is declared, at least 14 graduate hours of coursework credit must be in the major and 7 such hours must be in the minor. Thesis (599) hours do not count as coursework credit, and hence they cannot be used toward fulfilling these requirements. Further coursework requirements for Plan I M.A. students can be found in The Graduate Program section of the UNM Catalog.
C1. Philosophy Credit Hour Requirements (Plan I)
An M.A. student under Plan I must complete a minimum of 19 graduate credit hours of coursework in philosophy: at least 9 hours must be at the 500-level, and no more than 3 hours can be independent-study credit (498/551/651). Graduate credit hours in philosophy are hours in graduate courses offered by or cross-listed with the philosophy department, or courses approved by GAC as carrying graduate credit in philosophy. Thesis (599) hours do not count as coursework credit, and hence they cannot be used toward fulfilling these requirements.
- Plan I students must take a minimum of 4 courses designated as H(A),
H(M), H, Et, M, or E (see
At least one of these must be designated as H(A) or H(M) at the 500-level,
At least one of these must be designated as Et, M, or E.
E1. M.A. Thesis (Plan I)
- Before beginning work on the M.A. thesis, a Plan I student must select, in consultation with the Graduate Director and subject to approval by the department Chair, a thesis committee consisting of three members, a majority of whom must be from the Philosophy Department
- A copy of the final draft of the student's M.A. thesis, which must not exceed 25,000 words of main text, shall be distributed to each member of the thesis committee at least two weeks before the scheduled date of the thesis defense. This date shall be fixed in consultation with the Graduate Director.
- Every M.A. Candidate under Plan I is required to pass successfully a master's exam, which is an oral defense of the student's thesis before his or her thesis committee. An M.A. candidate may take a master's exam at most twice.
A. Time Limit
All work toward the M.A. degree (including coursework transferred from another institution) must be completed within a seven-year period. This seven-year period commences with the first graduate course counted toward the degree.
B2. Graduate Credit Hour Requirements (Plan II)
An M.A. student under Plan II must complete a minimum of 32 graduate hours of coursework credit: at least 12 hours must be at the 500-level, no more than 6 hours can be independent-study credit (498/551/651), and no more than 3 hours can be workshop credit. If a minor is declared, at least 18 graduate hours of coursework credit must be in the major and 12 such hours must be in the minor. Further coursework requirements for Plan II M.A. students can be found in The Graduate Program section of the UNM Catalog.
C2. Philosophy Credit Hour Requirements (Plan II)
An M.A. student under Plan II must complete a minimum of 25 graduate credit hours of coursework in philosophy: at least 15 hours must be at the 500-level, and no more than 3 hours can be independent-study credit (498/551/651). Graduate credit hours in philosophy are hours in graduate courses offered by or cross-listed with the philosophy department or courses approved by GAC as carrying graduate credit in philosophy.
D2. Distribution Requirements (Plan II)
Plan II students must take a minimum of 4 courses designated as H(A), H(M), H, Et, M, or E (see I.C).
At least two of these must be designated as H(A), H(M), or H, with one designated as H(A) or H(M) at the 500-level; and
At least two of these must be designated as Et, M, or E.
E2. M.A. Paper (Plan II)
- A Plan II student must select, in consultation with the Graduate Director and subject to approval by the department Chair, a master's exam committee consisting of three members, a majority of whom must be from the philosophy department.
- A copy of the final draft of the student's M.A. paper, which must not exceed 12,500 words of main text, shall be distributed to each member of the student's master's exam committee at least two weeks before the scheduled date of the exam. This date shall be fixed in consultation with the Graduate Director.
- Every M.A. candidate under Plan II is required to pass successfully a master's exam, which is an oral exam focused on the student's M.A. paper. An M.A. candidate may take a master's exam at most twice.
III. Ph.D. Program
The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare the student for an academic career in philosophy as scholar, researcher, and teacher. The requirements described below structure a Ph.D. program of 5 years, for which students will normally receive full financial support. Graduate work in philosophy completed prior to entering the Ph.D. program may be counted toward the Ph.D. degree in philosophy at UNM, subject to approval by GAC and to UNM Office of Graduate Studies regulations (see the UNM Catalog). All students, however, must complete the following requirements at UNM: Proseminar (I.D), Qualifying Examination (III.F), Dissertation Prospectus (III. J), Dissertation (III.K), and other requirements specified by the UNM Office of Graduate Studies (see the UNM Catalog). [Semester number enclosed in brackets next to the title of a requirement indicates the deadline for completing that requirement.]
- All applicants for the Ph.D. program (both with and without requests for financial aid) will have the same application deadline. All applicants will be judged by the same standards, independently of funding status.
- No applicant will be granted admission unless the department has a reasonable expectation that the student will receive five years of funding, which the department may pro-rate for those applicants who have already completed some graduate work. Continued funding will be contingent on satisfactory progress in the program (III.L).
- Any student admitted into the Ph.D. program with a multi-year
Teaching Assistantship from the Philosophy Department may request
to defer his/her funding for one or more semesters. A formal
petition stating the reasons for and the duration of the deferral
must be submitted to the Graduate Director, and it will be reviewed
by the members of GAC and the Chair of the Philosophy Department.
Typically, a student will be allowed to defer his/her funding
only once during his/her tenure as a Philosophy Teaching Assistant
and for no more than two consecutive semesters.
B. Student's Teaching
- Beginning with the entering class of 1998, all Ph.D. students are required before graduating to teach at least one course independently, which will be observed at least once by a full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty member who will enter a written evaluation in the student's file, as well as meet with the student to discuss her or his teaching performance. Normally, teaching an independent course will happen automatically during the course of a student's time here. In the special case of an outside-funded student, the department is committed to giving that student a course to teach during a term decided at the department's discretion (which may be the Summer term).
- Each student will have each of her or his courses observed at least once, and the observer will write at least one letter of evaluation for that student. (A separate letter of evaluation for each course observation is not required.) Letters of evaluation are placed in the student's file prior to such time as the student is seeking employment and submitting job applications.
C. Graduate Credit Hour Requirements [8th Semester]
Every Ph.D. student must complete a minimum of 48 graduate hours of coursework credit, of which at least 24 hours must be at the 500-level. Dissertation (699) hours do not count as coursework credit, and hence they cannot be used toward fulfilling these requirements. Further coursework requirements for doctoral students at UNM can be found in The Graduate Program section of the UNM Catalog.
D. Philosophy Credit Hour Requirements [8th Semester]
Every Ph.D. student must complete a minimum of 34 graduate hours of coursework credit in philosophy, of which at least 24 hours must be at the 500-level, and no more than 9 may be independent-study credit (498/551/651). Graduate credit hours in philosophy are hours in graduate courses offered by or cross-listed with the philosophy department, or courses approved by GAC as carrying graduate Philosophy credit. Dissertation (699) hours do not count as coursework credit, and hence they cannot be used toward fulfilling these requirements.
Every Ph.D. student must take courses that fulfill the following DRD requirements:
One course must be an M or E.
One course must be an Et.
F. Qualifying Examination
All Ph.D. students are required to pass a Qualifying Examination prior to taking their Dissertation Prospectus Exam. In August 2012, the Philosophy Department faculty approved new procedures for the Qualifying Examination, listed below under “b. Qualifying Examination.” Ph.D. students who entered the program in fall 2011 and fall 2012 may complete either the (a) or (b) version of the Qualifying Exam; these students must notify the Graduate Director of their decisions by the end of their third semester in residence. All Ph.D. students entering the program in fall 2013 or later must complete the exam as described under “b. Qualifying Examination.”
- All Ph.D. students will be examined on their general knowledge of the history of philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. The exam will cover the readings on the qualifying exam reading list (IV).
- The qualifying exam shall be either a three-hour oral exam or a four-hour written exam administered by a committee of three philosophy faculty. Students shall choose whether the exam will be oral or written. The committee shall be appointed by GAC in consultation with the student.
- The exam must be taken within the first six weeks of the beginning of the fifth semester.
- The exam committee will be appointed no later than the end of the second week of the semester in which a student takes his/her exam.
- At the committee's discretion, under exceptional circumstances, students may be asked to answer further questions orally or in writing.
- The examination committee shall issue one of three possible grades as a result of the exam: Ph.D. pass, M.A. pass, or fail. Students are required to pass the qualifying exam with a Ph.D. pass to continue in the Ph.D. program.
- Students who receive an M.A. pass or fail the exam will be allowed to retake the exam once within the first six weeks of the beginning of the following semester.
Criteria for an M.A. Pass on the Qualifying Examination: The student must demonstrate basic knowledge and expository ability: he or she should show an acquaintance with the main ideas of most of the readings on the reading list and an ability to explain them in a manner that would be appropriate for an introductory philosophy course.
Criteria for a Ph.D. Pass on the Qualifying Examination: In addition to meeting the criteria for an M.A. pass (basic knowledge and expository ability), the student should demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and analytical ability. That is to say, he or she should show a firm grasp of the philosophical problems addressed in most, if not all, of the readings and their broader significance, a comprehension of the main arguments presented therein, and an ability to analyze and critique them.
b. Qualifying Examination [7th Semester]
- By the third week of his/her fourth semester in the program, each Ph.D. student will obtain the QE Form from the departmental administrative staff, fill in his/her name and proposed Area of Specialization (AOS) and Area of Competence (AOC), and turn it in to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).
- If necessary, the DGS will work with the student to revise the proposed areas to assure that they are professionally and departmentally viable, and consistent with the student’s interests and abilities.
- Once the AOS and AOC are approved by the DGS, the DGS will assign two qualified faculty members to constitute the AOS Exam Committee and two qualified faculty members to constitute the AOC Exam Committee. In each case, one will be designated the Exam Committee Chair, the other the Second Examiner. A single faculty member may serve on both the AOS and AOC Exam Committees. Therefore, a student’s QE committee will include as few as two and as many as four total members.
- The AOS and AOC Exam Committee Chairs will be responsible for filling in the “Reading Units” section of the QE Form, in consultation with, and with the approval of, the Second Examiners. A “Reading Unit” will normally be one book or four article length papers. There will be a total of twelve reading units. Eight of the reading units should pertain to the AOS, four to the AOC. The AOS and AOC Exam Committee Chairs may choose to include the student in this process and/or call a formal meeting to discuss and settle the contents of the Reading Units List.
- Once the QE committee members have come to an agreement as to the contents of the Reading Units List, each will sign off their approval on the form, and return it to the DGS.
- The DGS will either sign off on the List, or return it to the QE committee with a list of recommendations for changes. (The DGS will normally only recommend changes in order to ensure equitable treatment of students in the same areas.)
- The Reading Units List must be approved by the sixth week of the student’s fourth semester in the program. Once the DGS has signed and dated the list, he/she will photocopy the QE Form for the Department’s records, and return the original to the student.
- The student will have until the sixth week of his/her seventh semester to obtain the signatures of both AOS and AOC committee members for each unit on the Reading List. Committee members will sign off on a unit when, in his/her judgment, the student has demonstrated a specialist’s knowledge of the readings in that unit. The interpretation of what constitutes such a demonstration will be left to the individual faculty member, but will typically include evidence from one or more of the following: face-to-face conversations or written exchanges, seminar presentations, written work/publications, written exams, and/or teaching experience.
- When all the signatures have been obtained, the student will return the QE Form to the DGS. At this stage, the student will have earned a Ph.D. pass on his/her Qualifying Exam and will be cleared by the DGS to take the Prospectus Exam. Any student who acquires more than 12 but fewer than the requisite 24 signatures by the sixth week of his/her seventh semester will earn an M.A. Pass on the Qualifying Exam.
- Students may petition for additional time to acquire the 24 signatures
required to earn a Ph.D. pass, which will be granted only with the majority
approval of the DGS and the Exam Committee.
G. Requesting an M.A. Degree
A doctoral student who receives a Ph.D. pass or an M.A. pass on the Qualifying Exam and completes the coursework requirements described in II.B², II.C², and II.D² above will be awarded, upon request, an M.A. degree in Philosophy.
H. Language Requirement [8th Semester]
A Ph.D. student must demonstrate reading competence in French, German, or a classical language, subject to approval by GAC. Such competence must be demonstrated by passing a translation exam arranged by GAC. A student may, with the approval of the department, substitute a course in metalogic (PHIL 456 or the equivalent) for the language requirement; the student must receive a grade of at least A- in the course. (Note: Students who entered the Ph.D. program prior to Fall 2006 may fulfill this requirement by taking courses approved by GAC.)
I. Dissertation Committee [7th Semester]
Every Ph.D. student must select, in consultation with the Graduate Director and subject to approval by the department Chair, a dissertation committee of at least four members, a majority of whom must be from the philosophy department, and one of whom must be an external member.
J. Dissertation Prospectus Examination (DP) Exam [8th Semester]
The DP Exam will be an oral exam of 2-3 hours based on a written dissertation prospectus. The examining committee shall consist of the three departmental members of the student's dissertation committee. The dissertation prospectus must contain the following elements:
a definition of the problem of issue that will be the focus of the dissertation (5-15 pages),
a review of the literature relevant to the problem or issue in question (10-20 pages),
a coherent explanation of the approach to the problem or the historical-interpretive thesis that will be proposed, including an overview of the anticipated argument (10-15 pages),
an outline of the dissertation broken down into chapters (2-5 pages), and
a bibliography reflecting a grasp of the essential literature relevant to the problem or issue (no fewer than 20 items).
The prospectus should have the format of a paper, including
footnotes or endnotes, broken down into the above mentioned sections.
The total length should be approximately 27-55 pages.
Every Ph.D. student entering the program after 2006 is expected to complete the DP exam by the end of his/her eighth semester in residence. Otherwise, he/she will be deemed to be making unsatisfactory progress toward the degree.
1. Doctoral students must select, in consultation with the Graduate Director and subject to approval by the departmental Chair, a dissertation committee consisting of at least four members, at least half of whom must be full-time UNM Philosophy faculty members.
2. A copy of the final draft of the student’s dissertation, which must not exceed 75,000 words of main text, shall be distributed to each member of the student’s dissertation committee in ample time for review prior to the examination. The date for the defense shall be fixed in consultation with the Graduate Director.
3. Every doctoral candidate is required to pass successfully a dissertation defense (considered as the final exam for the Ph.D.), which is an oral exam focused on the student’s dissertation. If a doctoral candidate earns a “Conditional Pass” for the defense, the candidate will be required to submit a revised version of the dissertation to his/her committee members no later than the end of the subsequent semester, and the revised dissertation must show clear evidence that the conditions for a passing grade have been met.
L. Satisfactory Progress
A doctoral student is considered to be making satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. only if he or she successfully completes each requirement by the specified deadline and maintains a GPA of 3.15 at the end of each academic year. Projected failure to meet any requirement by the specified deadline may also count as failure to make satisfactory progress. A student who is not making satisfactory progress by the end of the academic year may be disqualified from continuing in the Ph.D. program and, thereby, no longer be entitled to financial support.
M. Disenrollment Procedures
If a student is not making satisfactory progress, the department may notify the student that it is starting disenrollment procedures against this student. The student has two weeks from the date of the notification to petition GAC against his/her disenrollment. This petition should explain why he/she thinks that this procedure is not warranted. Only in exceptional cases will such petitions be approved. GAC may either reject the petition or recommend in favor of the petition and forward it to the department for a vote on the petition. If GAC rejects the petition, the student can appeal to the department within two weeks. If the department rejects the petition or GAC rejects the petition and the decision is not appealed to the department within two weeks, or if the student does not petition GAC within two weeks from the notification, the student will be disenrolled from the program. A letter to this effect will be sent to the student and to the Office of Graduate Studies.
IV. Reading List for the Qualifying Examination
The Department of Philosophy reserves the right to make reasonable changes to the reading list below provided that sufficient advance notice is given to students who have yet to take the qualifying exam, if such changes will better serve the educational goals of the exam.
Mengzi (Mencius), his eponymous work
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (Bks. 1, 2, 6, 10.7-9)
Hume, Treatise of Human Nature (Bk. 1; Bk. 2, pt. 3; Bk. 3, pts. 1 and 2)
Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (Everything up to B 169, except for B 46-59; B 232-256 [Second Analogy], 274-279 [Refutation of Idealism], 406-432 [Paralogisms], 472-481, 560-587 [Third Antinomy])
Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
Hegel, Phenomenology (Preface, Introduction, "Consciousness," "Self-Consciousness")
Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript (through "Subjective Truth," including appendix, "A Glance at a Contemporary Effort in Danish Literature")
Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals
Heidegger, Being and Time (through section 63)
Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
Quine, Word and Object, Chapter Two
Kripke, Naming and Necessity
A list of sample Qualifying Examination questions can be found here.