Qualifying Requirement

Shortly after completion of coursework, the student establishes a Thesis Committee (approved by the Department) and proceeds with their Qualifying Year. The QY checklist below indicates all the necessary steps and deadlines. See the five-year PhD timeline for an overview of the entire program.

Qualifying Year (QY) Checklist

  • Establish a (Department-approved) Thesis Committee shortly after the completion of coursework.
    • The Thesis Committee must have three faculty members, one designated as chair.
    • If appropriate, one faculty member from outside the department is permitted.



  • Compose a research reading list & write an (article-length) Qualifying Paper under the supervision of the Thesis Committee. The Qualifying Paper
    • must focus on a topic in the research area;
    • should examine some core philosophical questions relevant to the reading list;
    • cannot merely present a survey of all reading-list materials.


  • Meet regularly with all Committee members; in particular, meet with the Committee chair every month.
    • Meetings may be held in person or via Zoom/Skype/Teams as appropriate.


  • Submit a Draft of the Qualifying Paper to the Committee on or before the first day of classes of the Winter term.
    • The student will receive written (and oral, if desired) feedback on the draft from the committee within two weeks.


  • Submit the final draft of the Qualifying Paper to the Committee and the DGS by February 15.


  • Receive a written evaluation of the paper from the Committee by March 1.
    • This evaluation also goes to the DGS.


  • Take a written Qualifying Exam covering the Qualifying Paper and the reading list before the end of March.


  • Take an oral Qualifying Exam covering the Qualifying Paper, the reading list, and the written exam by April 15.


  • Passing both exams means satisfying the Qualifying Requirement.
    • In case of failure, both the written and the oral exams can be retaken once each and passed by August 31.


  • Within two weeks of satisfying the Qualifying Requirement, select a faculty member (usually a member of the Thesis Committee) as supervisor.
    • If the supervisor selected is anyone but the chair of the Thesis Committee, submit a fresh Thesis Committee Form indicating the change to the DGS.


  • Begin formal work on the dissertation.