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Ph.D. Program Timeline

Full-time Ph.D. students in the Program are guaranteed funding for four years provided they make satisfactory progress. We expect our students to make every effort to finish within the four years, and four years (12 terms) is indeed the norm for students in recent years. Failure to complete within four years is likely to mean financial hardship and stress, and may damage your employment prospects.

Students should be cautious about taking on extra teaching responsibilities, for instance, part-time teaching in the summer. The time lost in working on the dissertation may not be worth the teaching experience and extra income.

The following timeline summarizes the Program’s expectations for student progress:

Year One

First Term

  • Before the term starts begin to draft your applications for external funding (SSHRC, OGS) and have them reviewed by someone competent.
  • Consult the Ph.D. Program Officer for advice about courses and meeting area requirements.
  • Take two or three courses.
  • Complete applications for eligible external graduate scholarships (SSHRC, OGS).
  • Arrange for a thesis supervisor, and begin to discuss your research with your supervisor.
  • Determine with your supervisor whether you will have to establish competence in logic or one or more languages other than English before your Qualifying Examination. If you intend to write a thesis on a philosopher who wrote in a language other than English, you will probably have to demonstrate competence in that language. If so, consider whether you should begin formal study of that language now. Graduate students can audit, or take for credit, undergraduate language courses at no extra charge.
  • With the Program Officer and your Supervisor, arrange for the other members of your Supervisory Committee.

Second Term

  • Take the remainder of your five courses other than the Ph.D. Research Seminar (make sure you meet the Area Requirements).
  • Your Supervisory Committee should now be complete.
  • Ask your course professors or Supervisor if any papers you have submitted for courses would be appropriate for reworking for publication.

Summer Term

  • Arrange your first annual meeting in May with your Supervisory Committee, the Ph.D. Program Officer and the Graduate Administrator. Here is where you will be told definitely whether you need to demonstrate any special competencies. Also, you will have a chance to discuss in a back-and-forth way what you propose to do in your dissertation.
  • Begin or continue study for your language or logic exam, if one is required.
  • Begin preparation of your dissertation proposal.

Year Two

  • Take the Ph.D. Research Seminar (September to April).
  • Apply for eligible external graduate scholarships (SSHRC, OGS).
  • Continue study for your language or logic exam, if one is required.
  • Write your thesis proposal. A draft of your proposal must be submitted to your Supervisor by the end of your 17th month in the Program. Expect to prepare several drafts and run them past your Supervisor before your proposal is acceptable for the Qualifying Examination.
  • Take your language or logic exam, if required. The Ph.D. Program Officer will arrange this at your request.
  • Arrange for your Qualifying Examination, at which you will defend your thesis proposal. This will also be your annual meeting with your Supervisory Committee in your second year. A feasible target is May; earlier means you are ahead, later a bit behind. The Qualifying Examination must be taken no later than your 24th month in the Program.
  • Begin writing your thesis as soon as you have passed your Qualifying Examination.

Year Three

  • Apply for eligible external graduate scholarships (SSHRC, OGS).
  • Start writing your thesis. The usual procedure is to submit a chapter at a time to your supervisor for comments, which you accommodate in a revised version. Expect several cycles of comments and revisions. Ordinarily the other members of the Supervisory Committee do not see a chapter until the Supervisor has accepted it. This pattern varies, and should be negotiated in advance with your Supervisory Committee.
  • Arrange annual meeting in May with your Supervisory Committee.

Year Four

  • Apply for an OGS if you are eligible and expect to be back for a fifth year. (Don t count on this; it is no more than a possible backup if you fall behind.)
  • Complete your thesis. A good target is to have a finished draft by January of year four. This gives time for revisions, for nomination by your Supervisory Committee of an external examiner, and for the external examiner to read and prepare a report.
  • Defend your thesis. (If you do it soon enough, you will not need an annual meeting in May with your supervisory committee.)
  • Throughout, you should be trying to produce work which merits publication in a respectable journal. Publication helps your employment prospects and starts your research career. Whenever you have work which you think is of sufficient quality, show it to your supervisor (or other faculty) and receive their opinion as to its suitability for publication. Your supervisor or other faculty members should be able to advise you on appropriate places to send it. Consult the American Philosophical Association’s Guide to Publishing in Philosophy for information about journals.
  • We do not recommend sending work to graduate student journals. Publication in such journals is seldom weighed in hiring decisions. Neither do we recommend more than one or two conference presentations during your time as a doctoral student; conference presentations are ephemeral, and do not count nearly as much as publication in respected journals.
  • You should also keep in mind the possibility of eventually publishing a revised form of your dissertation as a book. Of the 34 graduates of the former Joint Doctoral Program between 1995 and 2002 eight have published or have a contract to publish their dissertation in revised form as a book.