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Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy

SIU Philosophy Student searches bookshelf at Morris Liberty

If you are on this path, a career in academia is your most obvious destination. You should love your subject matter, and you should have a passion for teaching others how to, not what to, think. You’ll also need strong writing skills, and the ability to communicate with other academic professionals. We welcome you to the community of philosophers.

Our diversified curriculum is not dominated by one school of thought. Our faculty represent a broad range of specializations, Africana Philosophy, American Philosophy, Philosophy of Race, Early Modern Philosophy, to name a few. We give you the chance to sample different schools of thought, cultures and time periods in philosophy, and encourage to find your own particular area of interest.

Compass IconThe Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy can be earned by fulfilling the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.


Assistantships are an important resource for our program. The students who earn an assistantship gain teaching experience and receive financial support. Our faculty are able to share the teaching load and preserve time for the research and publications that keep our program on the academic map. And our undergraduate students get to learn from more teachers with more points of view including graduate students who may be closer to their peer group than many faculty members.


Scholarships supplement any other financial assistance you may receive. In addition to university-wide scholarships, our program offers a number of major-specific scholarships. Make sure you understand all the requirements, and apply for these scholarships!

Routes of Entry

There are multiple pathways by which a student may enter the Philosophy Ph.D. program. A common one is by completion of a M.A. degree in Philosophy at an accredited institution, but a M.A. in Philosophy is not required for entry into the Ph.D. program. It is possible to be admitted into the Philosophy Ph.D. program with a B.A. in Philosophy or with a B.A. or B.S. in another field. Regardless of pathway, each applicant’s materials are carefully and holistically reviewed by the Graduate Committee.

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You are eligible to begin work on your dissertation after your course work and passing the preliminary exam.

Your dissertation director will be your mentor throughout your dissertation process — including selection of your dissertation committee. This committee is five graduate faculty members, including at least one from another graduate discipline.

You’ll begin with a prospectus review. Your dissertation director will help you assemble your background reading and the initial formulation of the project. You will create a prospectus — a proposed outline for the dissertation, a working bibliography, and a statement about what you problem you will research. Your prospectus will be 10-20 pages long. Your dissertation director will convene a committee, similar in makeup to your dissertation committee, to review the prospectus. This process helps you focus your research and line of inquiry, and alerts you to challenges you may face.

You’ll devote at least one academic year to full-time work on your dissertation, earning 24 credit hours of dissertation credit. While there is no specific length requirement for a dissertation, most successful dissertations are 150-250 pages. See the catalog for specific information about credit hours pertaining to your dissertation.

Your dissertation director will help you prepare your dissertation document for critical input from the committee. Each person on the committee should have a copy of your dissertation at least one month before the scheduled dissertation defense.

Your oral defense is an important part of the dissertation process. You’ll be asked questions about your dissertation topic and related topics. While your defense is open to the public, only the dissertation committee members may vote. It’s up to your dissertation director whether anyone outside the dissertation committee can ask you questions about your dissertation during the oral defense.

The committee will vote to determine if your dissertation and the oral defense thereof is satisfactory. Only one dissenting vote is allowed. See that catalog for specific information.

Contact Information

For more information or for advisement questions, contact:

Andrew Youpa,
Program Director

Faner Hall 3333
1000 Faner Dr.
Carbondale, IL 62901
Phone: 618-453-3161

Alfred Frankowski,
Director of Graduate Studies

Faner Hall 3331
1000 Faner Dr.
Carbondale, IL 62901

Opportunities and Resources

Our Dewey Center is the mothership for Dewey Centers all over the world. John Dewey was especially famous for his writings on democracy and education. He is considered one of the great American philosophers.

The Special Collections Research Center at Morris Library offers primary-source material for advanced Philosophy students. Philosophy resources include the John Dewey Papers, R. Buckminster Fuller materials, Open Court Publishing Company Records, and more.

The Library of Living Philosophers is a book series devoted to contemporary philosophers. Each volume focuses on an individual philosopher, and includes a complete bibliography, a collection of critical and interpretive essays from contemporary philosophers, an autobiographical statement from the philosopher, and responses to the other essays. Students are part of the editorial team.

Philosophical Collaborations is a speakers series featuring a philosophy professor and a philosophy graduate student (working on a master’s degree or a Ph.D.) talking on a specific topic. It’s a great way to gain a free seminar.

Building Bridges is a philosophy conference held at SIU. We encourage students, including freshmen, to go to professional and academic conferences, but with this one, there are no travel fees.