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Administrative Unit:Philosophy
College/School: College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:M.A., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.A., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Ph.D. Minor

Faculty: Professors Shafer-Landau (chair), Brighouse, Card, Forster, Gottlieb, Hausman, Hunt, Nadler, Shapiro, Sidelle, Sober, Vranas; Associate Professor Streiffer; Assistant Professors Bengson, Mackay, Paul, Titelbaum


The Department of Philosophy offers work leading to the doctor of philosophy with a major in philosophy.

The M.A. is granted to Ph.D. program students when they pass their preliminary examinations and become a dissertator. When a student must leave the program early and is unable to complete a Ph.D., a terminal M.A. is granted upon satisfying the department's criteria for a master's degree.

The Ph.D. degree is awarded in recognition of a successfully completed program of advanced studies in philosophy, culminating in a dissertation which represents a contribution to philosophy or to philosophical scholarship.

The Ph.D. program falls into two major stages. The first consists of work that prepares the student for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Studies during the first stage of the program are devoted to acquiring the philosophical skills and learning needed to do philosophy in the second stage when writing a successful dissertation.

The department offers five years of support to all incoming graduate students. Support begins with the first fall semester and continues for at least nine additional semesters, provided the student makes satisfactory academic progress and carries out duties acceptably as a graduate assistant.

The department assigns a faculty member as placement officer and devotes a significant portion of staff resources to help graduates find employment.

Ph.D. Minor 

Graduate students from other fields who wish to pursue a minor in philosophy should consult with the assistant to the chair of the department. Minor candidates are required to take a minimum of three courses in philosophy for a total of at least 9 credits. Normally, at least two of these courses, for at least 5 credits, must be taken in residence on campus.

Most courses numbered 400 and above are open to minor candidates, as are graduate courses and seminars numbered 700 and above. Minor candidates who wish to enroll for independent reading should consult with the assistant to the chair; a student may be enrolled for an independent reading course only with the explicit consent of the instructor.


For admission to the Ph.D. program with full graduate standing, a student must have completed the equivalent of a B.A. with a major in philosophy. Promising students who do not meet this requirement may be admitted with deficiencies provided that they have completed at least 12 credits in philosophy. Upon entering the program, a student must consult with the assistant to the chair for selection of a major professor. The department website contains additional information on department rules, policies, and degree requirements.

For more information: Department of Philosophy, 5185 Helen C. White Hall, 600 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706; 608-263-5278; pwinspur@wisc.edu; philosophy.wisc.edu.