Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Graduate School Requirements

This is a partial summary of the Graduate School requirements. For detailed information on all Graduate School requirements, see the UW General Catalog.

  • Completion of a program of study and research as planned by the graduate program coordinator in the student's major department or college and the Supervisory Committee. At least 18 credits  of course work at the 500 level and above must be completed before scheduling the General Examination.
  • Presentation of 90 credits, 60 of which must be taken at the University of Washington.
  • Numerical grades must be received in at least 18 quarter credits of course work taken at the UW prior to scheduling the General Examination.The Graduate School accepts numerical grades in approved 400-level courses accepted as part of the major, and in all 500-level courses. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 is required for a graduate degree.
  • The candidate must register for a MINIMUM of 27 credits of dissertation (PHIL 800) over a period of at least three quarters. At least one quarter must come after the student passes the General Exam. With the exception of summer quarter, students are limited to a maximum of 10 credits per quarter of dissertation (PHIL 800).
  • Completion of all work for the doctoral degree within ten years. This includes quarters spent on-leave.
  • Registration maintained as full- or part-time graduate student at the UW for the quarter in which the degree is conferred.

The following requirements supplement the general requirements set forth by the UW Graduate School. All students, whether or not they have earned an M.A. at another institution, must complete the M.A. requirements before entering the Ph.D. program.


Admission to the Ph.D. program is based on the level of performance with the M.A. requirements.

General Requirements

There are four general requirements for the completion of the doctoral degree:

  1. general written examination
  2. general oral examination
  3. dissertation
  4. final examination

The Qualifying paper constitutes the written portion of the general examination. The general oral examination is normally a presentation and defense of the student’s dissertation proposal.

Course Requirement

Student must complete a minimum of 12 graduate level courses, with at least six of these courses being seminars. All courses must be passed with a grade of 3.0 or better. (Seminars/courses taken to fulfill the M.A. requirements may count toward this total). A student’s doctoral supervisory committee may require additional course work.

Language Requirement

There is no departmental language requirement. However, in writing a dissertation a student must be able to deal with primary sources in the original language of the source. All language requirements are determined by the student’s supervisory committee. A student should develop the needed language skills as early as possible in his/her career. The student should consult with the director of graduate studies during the first and second year in the M.A. program to insure that he/she is developing any needed language skills.

Proseminar and Literature Review

In the fall of the third year, students are required to enroll for the department’s proseminar (PHIL 500). This credit/no credit course is designed to help students make the transition from coursework to dissertation writing. Students will get advice from faculty and more senior graduate students about finding a dissertation topic, narrowing its scope, forming a committee, writing a dissertation proposal, and passing the General Exam. Students will be asked to read past proposals, meet with faculty members in their area, lead class discussions on articles of relevance to their likely dissertation topic, and complete a 20 page literature review (surveying work in the area in which they expect to write a dissertation). The literature review paper is not just a proseminar assignment; it is a requirement of the program. It will be graded (pass/fail) by two faculty members in the student’s area of concentration, as well as by the instructor of the proseminar. The literature review should be a paper that reports on approximately 12-15 articles, book chapters, or books central to the likely area of the student’s dissertation project. Rather than simply providing an annotated bibliography, it should be written with an eye to marking out key positions, identifying common themes, gaps, or other problems, and providing the reader with an organized picture of what has been written in the area. Inability to complete this requirement in a timely fashion and to departmental expectations will be considered unsatisfactory progress.

Satisfactory Progress

A student’s supervisory committee determines whether a student in the Ph.D. program is making satisfactory progress. Satisfactory progress for the Ph.D. program includes steady and substantial progress toward the completion of the dissertation. Sanctions for failure to make satisfactory progress are the same as described for the Master’s requirements.