PhD Program | Philosophy & Religion

PhD Program

The PhD Program offers a world class educational experience and foundational training in environmental philosophy, the history of Western philosophy, philosophy of science and technology and related fields. The program is designed to prepare students for careers both within academia and in non-academic sectors. In the initial year of study the departmental Director of Graduate Studies will primarily advise students. Student supervision and advisement following the first year will be the responsibility of the student's major professor and committee. Graduate students assume full responsibility for knowledge of all Toulouse School of Graduate Studies and University of North Texas rules, regulations, and deadlines published in the Graduate Catalog and of all departmental and program requirements concerning their degree program.


Student categories determine the coursework required to earn a PhD in Philosophy at UNT. Categories for incoming students are determined according to the degree achieved upon admission to the program.

Category 1 students (72 hours)

Accepted to the PhD program with a BA degree in any discipline.

  • Required courses: 9 hours of philosophical topics, 9 hours of environmental philosophy
  • PHIL elective courses: 27 hours
  • Additional PHIL elective or non-PHIL elective courses: 15 hours
  • Doctoral Dissertation: 12 hours

Category 2 students (42 hours)

Accepted to the PhD program with a MA degree in a discipline other than philosophy.

  • Required courses: 9 hours of philosophical topics, 9 hours of environmental philosophy
  • PHIL elective courses: 12 hours
  • Doctoral Dissertation: 12 hours

Category 3 students (42 hours)

Accepted to the PhD program with an MA degree in philosophy.

  • Required courses: 6 hours of philosophical topics, 9 hours of environmental philosophy
  • Additional PHIL elective or non-PHIL elective courses: 15 hours
  • Doctoral Dissertation: 12 hours

Environmental philosophy courses, 9 hours

  • PHIL 5000 - Environmental Ethics
  • PHIL 5010 - Seminar in the Philosophy of Ecology
  • PHIL 5700 - Environmental Philosophy
  • PHIL 5800 - Philosophies of Climate Change
  • PHIL 6710 - Ecofeminism: Women's Studies and Environmental Ethics
  • PHIL 6720 - Religion and Ecology
  • PHIL 6730 - Christianity and the Environment
  • PHIL 6740 - Environmental Ethics, Science and Public Policy
  • PHIL 6750 - Environmental Justice
  • PHIL 6760 - Topics in Environmental Philosophy

Philosophical Topics courses, 9 hours (category 1 and 3) 6 hours (category 2)

  • PHIL 5100. Topics in Ancient Philosophy
  • PHIL 5150. Feminist Philosophy
  • PHIL 5200. Topics in Modern Philosophy
  • PHIL 5250. Topics in History of Philosophy
  • PHIL 5300. Social-Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 5400. Ethical Theory
  • PHIL 5500. Philosophy of Science and Technology
  • PHIL 5600. Philosophy of Religion
  • PHIL 6150. Metaphysics
  • PHIL 6200. Existentialism
  • PHIL 6250. Aesthetics
  • PHIL 6400. Philosophy of Technology
  • PHIL 6500. Cultural Criticism

Interdisciplinary study, 0 or 15 hours

Students entering the PhD program with a BA (in any discipline) and those entering the program with an MA in philosophy may take up to five courses (15 credit hours) in other departments.

Students entering the PhD program with an MA degree in a field other than philosophy must take all courses in the philosophy department.

The Director of Graduate Studies can grant exceptions.

Dissertation hours, 12 hours

Required of all students. After completing all course requirements, students must enroll in 12 semester credit hours of PHIL 6950. ABD doctoral students must maintain continuous enrollment in PHIL 6950 to remain matriculated

Upon completion of course work and Qualifying Exam, students are required to submit a Prospectus (dissertation proposal) to the dissertation director and committee members. The student defends the proposal to the director and committee; the proposal must be signed and approved before the student can begin the dissertation.

The dissertation should be a work of original scholarship. The dissertation defense takes place before the director and the committee and is open to the public.

Independent Studies / Special Problems

Graduate students in the Department of Philosophy and Religion will take no more than two special problems or independent studies throughout their graduate career unless approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and the student's major professor. Students should note that a good use of a special problems or independent study course is to arrange one with their major professor in their last year of coursework, in order to assist in the development of a literature base, dissertation topic, and working relationship between the major professor and the student.


Satisfying the Toulouse Graduate School Requirement for Qualifying Examination and Admission to Candidacy.

The purpose of the Qualifying Exam is for the PhD student in philosophy to develop mastery of the philosophical materials (broadly construed) at the foundations of their research interests. The Qualifying Exam also serves the purpose of providing the student with mentorship and guidance in the development of their dissertation prospectus.

Consistent with the Toulouse Graduate School Requirement for Qualifying Examination and Admission to Candidacy, this Qualifying Exam will require the student to demonstrate competency in the areas of philosophy that they choose in consultation with their Exam Committee.

Students are eligible for the Qualifying Exam following the completion of course work. Their last 3 required credit hours will be used for a PHIL 6900 Special Problems: Qualifying Exam course, which serves as the mechanism through which study for the Exam will occur during that semester. The Exam will be administered at or near the end of the semester during a ten-day window. The Exam is graded independently from the 6900 course, so the Exam can extend past the semester grade deadline without necessitating an "I" (Incomplete) for the course. Keep in mind that funded students are not eligible for a pay raise until they have passed the Exam. Also, students are not eligible for PHIL 6950 Dissertation hours until they have passed the exam.

Students are required to assemble a willing Exam Committee (hereafter 'Committee' in this section). Committees shall consist of three faculty members of the department, all serving equally as co-chairs. Students will enroll in the 6950 course with one of the Committee members - to be determined by the Committee. Students are required to consult frequently with all members of the Committee as they prepare for the exams.

In consultation with the Committee, students will designate a set of texts (and other materials) over which they will be examined. The primary purpose of this list is to ensure mastery of materials deemed essential to situating and grounding their research interests. The set of texts (and other materials) shall be formed by the end of the semester prior to the exam.

The Qualifying Exam consists of three essays based on the designated texts and administered by the Committee. The Exam will be administered as take-home essays to be completed across a ten-day period. In consultation with the student, the Committee will formulate the three exam questions. Students may submit draft questions for the Committee's consideration, but the Committee has the final determination of the wording of the three questions. The student will answer each of the three exam questions with a 2,500 to 3,500-word essay. Individual Committees will determine the details of the exams and ensure that the student is well-informed about scheduling, content, and process.

The Committee as a whole is responsible for evaluating the exams. All members of the Committee will read the essays, marking them Pass or Fail. Should at least two members judge any of the essays to be failing, the Committee may permit the student to retake those essay(s) once. Such permission is at the discretion of the Committee; should the Committee not grant it, or should a student fail a second time, the student can utilize the appeals process detailed below. Students have one full long semester to re-write exam essays.

Evaluation, Grading and Appeals

The Committee will grade the student's examination with a Pass/Fail grade in a timely manner.


The Qualifying Exam satisfactorily meets the Graduate School's Qualifying Exam Requirement. Students must pass all three exams.


The Qualifying Exam does not satisfactorily meet the Graduate School's Qualifying Exam Requirement.

A pass grade on all three essays is required to move the student to ABD status as a doctoral candidate.

One Fail grade per exam is permissible. Students may retake each essay one time.


No dissertation enrollment is permitted until the Qualifying Exam has been passed and the QER form is on file with the Graduate School. Students are admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree by the graduate dean upon successful completion of the qualifying examination and residency requirements; the department should notify the office of the Graduate Dean when a student passes the qualifying examination and is admitted to candidacy. Prior to beginning your dissertation, discuss your research interests and possible topics with your major professor/advisory committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Dissertation Committee

Membership of dissertation advisory committees will include representatives from the Department and, if desired, outside members. The number of members on thesis committees will normally be three to five; at least three are required. The majority of committee members must hold regular UNT faculty status. The dissertation chair is the student's major professor and guide through the process of thesis development and the demonstration of independent scholarship. Therefore, the chair of the dissertation committee, who must be willing to serve, is selected by the student in consultation with the appropriate graduate faculty, graduate advisor or department chair in the student's discipline. (Note: A person who is not a regular member of the University of North Texas graduate faculty may receive a temporary graduate faculty appointment from the graduate dean in order to serve on a committee. For these appointments, the thesis committee chair should submit an associate membership nomination form, justification for the appointment, and a vita of the prospective committee member.)

Dissertation Prospectus

Students must consult with their dissertation advisor in preparing the prospectus, which must be completed the semester following the qualifying exam. The dissertation prospectus should readily convey the nature and import of the student's project and refer to procedure and method (e.g., "This dissertation will consist of six chapters. . . ."). The prospectus is a provisional document that advances the basic argument of your dissertation project and therefore should include:

  1. A brief description and statement on the significance of the project.
  2. An overview of the current state of research.
  3. A plan of research and statement on methodology.
  4. A preliminary outline of chapters.
  5. A preliminary bibliography.

The prospectus should be between 8 and10 pages (approx. 2500 words) in length, not including the bibliography. Consult this webpage for more information:

Dissertation Defense

When the dissertation is completed and has received preliminary approval of the advisory committee, the student's major professor will schedule the final defense and will notify the Toulouse Graduate School of the date and time of the examination. Students should apply for graduation with the graduate school in accordance with the graduate graduation deadlines and at least 10 days prior to the final defense of their dissertation. The dissertation may not be submitted to the dean of the student's college or the graduate dean until this final examination has been passed. (Note: No dissertation credit will be recorded until the dissertation has been approved by the student's advisory committee, submitted to the graduate dean's office and finally approved by the graduate dean. Instructions for submission of the dissertation may be obtained from the graduate dean's office.)

Dissertation Submission

The University of North Texas, as a member of the Council of Graduate Schools, ascribes to the fundamental tenet on openness and access of thesis and dissertation research. All UNT ETDs are placed in the UNT ETD repository and made available via the online Libraries catalog for reading and/or downloading by all users, including being crawled and indexed by online search engines (e.g., Google). ETDs are available in perpetuity; there are no restrictions regarding who can download the file or how many times it can be downloaded.

In addition to the UNT Libraries, copies of all ETDs are also sent to ProQuest. All students must sign and submit a ProQuest publication agreement as part of their required paperwork for graduation. As copyright holders, students earn royalties on every copy sold of their thesis or dissertation so students must include their social security number on the ProQuest forms. The "microfilm" graduation fee covers ProQuest's Traditional Publishing option. If a student has opted to restrict access to the UNT Libraries copy of their ETD, this is *not* communicated to ProQuest. Access choices are listed on the ProQuest agreement form but if these are not sufficient, students must contact ProQuest directly to discuss alternatives.