PhD Program

The PhD program in the Department of Philosophy provides students with intense philosophical training, and can help them transition to careers in philosophical research and teaching.

Those admitted will work with award-winning faculty members who engage in research in the philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, aesthetics, ethics, social/political philosophy, logic, Asian philosophy and the history of philosophy, just to name a few.

Program Overview

PhD students will take courses in the first years to provide them with expertise in a broad range of philosophical topics, including value theory, the history of philosophy, the core areas of metaphysics and epistemology as well as their own personal research interests. After the coursework comes the comprehensive exam, followed by prospectus and dissertation.

Students interested in a PhD in philosophy must be aware of these degree requirements.

  • Two years’ residency at UBC,
  • Eight one-term courses at or above the 500 level,
  • During the first year, five one-term courses including four at the 500 level or above and four with a minimum average of 80% (A- or 3.7 GPA),
  • During the second year, complete the PhD coursework requirement with an overall average of 80%.

  • Three years’ residency at UBC,
  • Ten one-term courses, including eight at the 500 level or above,
  • A minimum average of 80% (A- or 3.7 GPA) in six one-term courses,
  • During the first year, five one-term courses including four at the 500 level or above and four with a minimum average of 80% (A- or 3.7 GPA),
  • During the second year, complete the PhD coursework requirement with an overall average of 80%.

  • One presentation to the Philosophy Graduate Colloquium during the first two years
  • Complete the Comprehensive Exam
  • Complete a dissertation prospectus and oral presentation
  • Complete a dissertation of approximately 60,000 words and public dissertation defence

Graduate Resources

As part of the program, graduate students will have access to a number of resources that support each individual’s work and research.

Graduate Regulations (revised September 2023)

This document contains full details on MA and PhD procedures and requirements, including information on the following topics: the MA course-only and thesis options; transferring from the MA to the PhD program; residency requirements; the course distribution and formal methods requirements; the proseminar; the comprehensive examination; the PhD prospectus; leaves of absence; and PhD thesis preparation. For details on these and other topics, please consult the table of contents.

Graduate students are crucial to the life of the department. They are expected to regularly attend colloquia, to elect a representative for faculty meetings, and to organize periodic social events. There are also work in progress seminars where graduates and faculty are invited to share and discuss their developing research projects. In addition, there is currently an active Graduate Student Colloquium for graduate student presenters only.

Reading groups are also a nice way to explore philosophy in a more informal setting, and students have access to a reading room in addition to having space in the graduate lounge. Lastly, graduate students have the opportunity to hone their teaching skills as TAs or instructors.

Several philosophy department faculty are members of the Science and Technology Studies program in cooperation with faculty from History, English, and other departments. The STS program offers an MA program and a PhD stream within the philosophy PhD. Philosophy PhD students enrolled in the PhD stream take three STS seminars as part of their graduate coursework. STS seminars are frequently cross-listed with philosophy seminars and are open to other graduate students.

Supervision in applied ethics, including biomedical ethics, environmental ethics, and business and professional ethics, is available in conjunction with the Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics. The Centre for Applied Ethics is an independent academic unit with resources for graduate education in applied ethics. Graduate students in the philosophy department can seek research supervision from Centre faculty.

The Arts Co-op Program offers students enriched educational experiences for personal and professional growth. Co-op is a high-impact educational program that allows you to alternate dissertation-writing terms with work terms, during which you gain meaningful paid work experience. We work with a diverse range of community partners and sectors to provide transformative workplace learning for co-op students.
The Arts PhD Co-op Program allows you to explore different career options, while gaining paid, professional work experience and a network of contacts. Some students are able to secure work terms that are relevant to their dissertation research, while others choose to pursue work experience that diversify their expertise and give them range. Students complete three work terms of 4 months each over the two to three years after achieving candidacy.
The PhD Co-op option is currently being piloted for Philosophy students.
Philosophy PhD Co-op option

Philosophy graduate students at UBC may take courses in the Philosophy Department at Simon Fraser University without paying additional fees. Supervisory committees may include members from both departments.

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