Thesis Requirement

The following requirements are those established by the Department of Philosophy. The School of Graduate Studies has its own requirements, by which departments and PhD students are bound: SGS policies can be found on the School of Graduate Studies website.

Thesis Supervision

The supervisor will always be a member of the graduate faculty of the Department; one of the readers may be drawn from another department or division of the School of Graduate Studies. In some cases, a thesis committee will consist of a pair of co-supervisors and a reader. At the request of the student and the Supervisor, and once the student has earned ABD status, someone from outside The University of Toronto may be added to the Thesis Committee as an Honorary Member. (The Honorary Member may attend the Thesis Examination, but will not be a voting member.)

Qualitative Standards

The department has established certain qualitative standards, all of which a PhD thesis is expected to meet. The thesis should show:

  1. Sufficient acquaintance with, and understanding of, the literature in an area, as displayed by the demonstrated ability of its author to discuss in a competent manner the philosophical problems which arise in that area;
  2. Coherent and logical organization of the issues raised; and
  3. Clarity and cogency of argument.

Furthermore, the thesis must:

  1. Have some originality in its arguments or conclusion; and
  2. Be of publishable quality, at least in some significant portions.

Any thesis having such qualities displays the well-developed ability of the student to complete a sustained piece of independent research.

Quantitative Standards

To produce a work demonstrating this ability, the student would normally be expected to devote 1 or 2 years of full-time work. The Department considers 150-300 printed pages a suitable length for a PhD thesis. This length includes footnotes, bibliography and any appendices.

Theses exceeding 400 pages will not be recommended for examination. Each year, the Department distributes a list of theses successfully defended during the previous calendar year. Copies of the lists and bound copies of theses are kept in the graduate office. PhD candidates are welcome to peruse them.

A Thesis Committee may recommend termination of a student’s program on the grounds of insufficient progress or scholarly achievement. It may do so, however, only if the student has been provided adequate warning of problems and given a chance to correct deficiencies.


The School of Graduate Studies sets a deadline for submission of a thesis of August 15 of Academic Year 6 for students in the four-year program, and of August 15 of Academic Year 7 for students in the five-year program.

For the policy on extensions of the PhD program, see the Policy on Extensions of the PhD Program.