Note: It is assumed that the current course distribution requirements in the History of Philosophy – one course in Ancient Philosophy, one course in Medieval Philosophy, one course in Modern Philosophy and one course in post-Hegelian Philosophy – will have been completed before the exam.
No later than one week before the fall semester of the third year, full time students must without exception present the Director of Graduate Studies a portfolio of four papers submitted to satisfy the requirements for seminars taken in their normal course of study in the previous four semesters. The portfolios will be reviewed by a subcommittee of the Graduate Committee. One week before the fall break, this subcommittee will present students with a list of questions that will form the basis of an oral examination to be administered in the week after the fall break.
The oral exam will be graded on the following scale: pass with distinction, pass, low pass, failure. This grade will become part – together with the portfolio, the record of course grades, the record of incomplete courses and other evidence of professional preparation including published materials and conference presentations – of a comprehensive evaluation by the Graduate Committee of each student’s qualification to be admitted to the Ph.D. level of the graduate program. The results of this comprehensive evaluation will be communicated to students before the Thanksgiving holiday.
The portfolio should be comprised of four well-written and cogently argued papers that taken together clearly demonstrate a grounding in the history of philosophy. The papers may but need not be reworked by students prior to submitting them as part of their portfolio. The papers should be chosen by students as representative of their preparation to advance to the next level in the graduate program. At least one of these papers must be on a subject in the history of philosophy from the Ancient to the Medieval period. At least one of these papers must be on a subject in the history of philosophy from the Modern period, up to and including Hegel. All four papers must be presented with a word count and must be 6000-7000 words long, including footnotes.
The subcommittee will be formed by the graduate director from a regular rotation of faculty serving on the Graduate Committee. The subcommittee will be free to divide the work involved in developing questions from the portfolios as it sees fit.
The list of questions presented to students will be drawn from the papers students submit in their portfolio. Students will be presented with no more than ten questions. Which of these questions are asked in the course of the oral examination will be decided exclusively by the examining subcommittee.
The oral examination will be used as a springboard to allow students to demonstrate their philosophical acumen and will test a student’s knowledge of the history, tradition and transmission of the conceptual variation in the areas represented by the papers in the student’s portfolio. It will last no longer than 90 minutes.
A student will pass the oral exam if she or he clearly demonstrates significant philosophical competence through a thorough and nuanced knowledge of the history, tradition and transmission of conceptual variation in the areas of the history of philosophy and the disciplines of philosophy represented by her or his portfolio. At the discretion of the subcommittee, a student may be awarded a “Pass with distinction” grade.
A student will qualify for a low pass of the oral exam if she or he clearly demonstrates philosophical competence through an adequate knowledge of the history, tradition and transmission of the conceptual areas of the history of philosophy and the disciplines of philosophy represented by her or his portfolio.
The oral exam will be judged a failure if the student demonstrates little philosophical competence with only a cursory knowledge of the history, tradition and transmission of conceptual variation in the areas of the history of philosophy and the disciplines of philosophy represented by her or his portfolio.
The comprehensive evaluation will take into consideration the quality of the student’s course work, the number of incompletes the student is carrying, other evidence of professional preparation including published materials and conference presentations, the quality of the portfolio and the grade on the oral exam. On the basis of this comprehensive evaluation, students will be either recommended for the MA and invited to matriculate at the next level of the PhD program or recommended for a terminal MA. Appeals will be handled on a case by case basis and will start with the DRG.