Overview of the programs
Last modified Summer 2007
The CU/Boulder Department of Philosophy has emerged over the last ten years as one of the nation's leading graduate programs. We have distinguished faculty in all the core areas of philosophy, with particular strengths in metaphysics and ethics. The Department is also one of a few elite programs in the country that balance strength in contemporary philosophy with a serious interest in history. Our faculty includes internationally recognized scholars that span the whole history of Western thought, from Plato and Aristotle, through the Middle Ages, to Kant and his successors.
Boulder has one of the largest philosophy faculties in the country, and a correspondingly large graduate program, with separate tracks for MA and PhD students. Though the overall program is large, with more than 70 graduate students in all, the number of entering students in a given year remains small, averaging six new PhD students and 10-15 new MA students. All PhD students are granted funding through teaching positions (tuition waiver and stipend) for five years. MA students do not ordinarily receive funding, but many of our best PhD students have entered into that program through our MA program.
Our faculty is known for having some of best teachers on campus. Accordingly, we have a very large and active group of undergraduate majors. On the graduate level, there are enthusiastic groups studying with a wide range of faculty members. The Department's special strength in metaphysics makes this a particularly lively area of interest among the graduate students. The distinctive focus of the Center for Values and Social Policy likewise attracts a strong group of students. The Department's reputation for doing serious philosophical work on historical figures makes for yet another area of focus. Many of our graduate students have interests in all three of these areas.
Despite the always difficult job market, we have had very good success in recent years at placing PhD students. Recent graduates have received tenure-track jobs at both leading research universities and smaller colleges, and it has been very rare for a student to fail entirely on the market. Moreover, as the Department's reputation has grown in recent years, we find our students doing better and better every winter.
Studying philosophy in Boulder has the additional advantage of location. Situated at the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, 25 miles northwest of Denver, Boulder has perhaps the most ideal geographical settings in the country. In addition to its natural beauty and recreational opportunities, as well as its diverse cultural offerings, Boulder has what many consider the perfect climate. Protected by the mountains, its winters are mild and its summers sunny and dry.
CENTER FOR VALUES AND SOCIAL POLICY
The Center for Values and Social Policy was established in January, 1980. Its goal is to bring the normative and conceptual skills of philosophy to bear on critical issues facing society. The concerns of the Center include both theoretical and applied topics in moral, social, political, and legal philosophy.
The Center coordinates the department's activities and courses in moral, political, and legal philosophy; offers specializations within the department's M.A. and Ph.D. programs; conducts research; sponsors lectures and conferences; publishes a newsletter; is the home of the Summer Philosophy Institute of Colorado and the Philosophy Outreach Program of Colorado, programs for philosophy in K-12 education; and collaborates with professionals from other departments and institutions. The Center's programs are designed to help students acquire both the philosophical skills and the broad understanding that are required in order to bring philosophical issues to bear on matters of social policy and to participate in policy debates.
The program includes a core curriculum of policy-related courses: philosophy and social policy, environmental philosophy, bioethics and public policy, professional ethics, ethics, and political philosophy. Separate application for admission to this program is not required.
The Department has strengths throughout the history of philosophy, with faculty specializing in the ancient, medieval, and modern periods. The department also has strong affiliations with the Medieval Studies Program and the Classics Department, where another senior research professor is rostered.
The department offers a concentration in Contemporary Metaphysics. Ten members of the faculty have strong teaching and research interests in the area. Current faculty research and teaching topics include: time, causation, laws, universals, substance, concepts, reduction, supervenience, realism, physicalism, mind, events, value, and philosophy of religion.
is one of a very few top-ranked graduate programs to offer a
terminal MA degree. Our MA students go on to top-ranked PhD programs
around the country, and we often admit our best MA students into our
own PhD program.
Department Colloquium Series
Recent speakers include Elizabeth Anderson, Jonathan Bennett, Jack Copeland, Edwin Curley, Troy Cross, Julia Driver, Richard Fumerton, Barbara Herman, Anil Gupta, Keith Lehrer, Michele Moody-Adams, Paul Pietroski, David Robb, Gideon Rosen, Sydney Shoemaker, and Richard Sorabji.
Morris Colloquium on Social Philosophy
This multiple-day conference has focused on such topics as equal citizenship, virtue ethics, the ethics and politics of consumerism, and virtue and knowledge in ancient and medieval philosophy.
Committee on the History and Philosophy of Science Colloquia
Recent speakers include Mark Bedau, Helen Longino, Alex
Jones, Alan Richardson, Robert Shapiro, and Andrea Woody, The Committee
also sponsors a regularly series of round-table discussions with CU historians,
philosophers, and scientists.
On non-Colloquium Mondays, faculty and graduate students meet to discuss the work of someone from within the Department. These informal sessions offer faculty and students the opportunity to present their work in progress to a (generally) sympathetic audience.
There are, at any time, more reading and discussion groups of various sorts in progress than anyone can keep track of. Some of the principal ones in which graduate students are involved are the following:
The department provides various forms of financial support for students in the Ph.D. program. All PhD students are appointed to a teaching position as part of the program; they start out as Teaching Assistants leading two recitation sections at a 45% time appointment, and after two years are promoted to Graduate Part-Time Instructors, teaching classes on their own at 25% or 50% appointment. (GPTIs will generally teach three classes a year, two one semester and one in the other). Funding in this manner is guaranteed for five years to students who maintain adequate progress in the program. All teaching positions include a tuition waiver of from 5-19 credit hours and a salary stipend depending on percentage of appointment.
Incoming PhDs can be nominated by the Department for several University-wide graduate student fellowships, including the Chancellor's Doctoral Fellowship, the Center for the Humanities and Arts Fellowship, and the Devaney Fellowship. While these are university-wide and are never guaranteed to any one department, the Department has a good track record in securing one or two of these each year.
PhDs at the dissertation stage are eligible to be nominated for several University fellowships, including the Emerson-Lowe Dissertation Fellowship, the Reynolds Fellowship, and the Berenice Udick Fellowship. In addition, most PhDs will receive at some point the Department's own internal Department Dissertation Fellowship, which covers tuition and a stipend for one semester, in order to enable them to spend a semester's sabbatical from teaching so that they may concentrate on their dissertations.
The Department of Philosophy offers two courses of study leading to graduate degrees: an M.A. program and a Ph.D. program. The programs are discrete in the sense that satisfactory completion of the M.A. program is not sufficient for admission to the Ph.D. program.
The M.A. requires thirty hours of approved graduate study, demonstrated proficiency in the core areas of Philosophy, and a successful thesis defense.
The Ph.D. requires forty-five hours of approved graduate study, in addition to the thirty hours of dissertation credit hours required by the Graduate School. Twenty-seven of the 45 hours must satisfy departmental distribution requirements. Other requirements include a logic requirement; satisfactory completion of third-semester and fifth-semester qualifying papers; and successful prospectus oral and dissertation defense.
Applications forms and instructions are available online through the (http://www.colorado.edu/graduateschool/instructions.html) Graduate School. For further information, contact Karen Sites, Graduate Program Coordinator, Department of Philosophy, 232 UCB, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0232. The department welcomes applications from minority and women candidates.
To be assured of full consideration, applications for the graduate program must be received in the department office by January 15th for the following fall. All applicants must submit a $50 application fee, GRE General Test scores, a writing sample, and at least three letters of reference. (Although the Graduate School application forms ask for four letters of reference, we only require the three.) The University's graduate application is on-line at http://www.colorado.edu/prospective/graduate/apply/process.html
The deadline for international applicants is December 1st. Please note that international applications must be prescreened by International Admissions before being forwarded to the Department, a process that can take up to six weeks, so international applicants should get their materials in as early as possible. The international application is at http://www.colorado.edu/prospective/international/apply.html
DAVID BOONIN (University of Pittsburgh,
Ph.D. 1992) Professor Boonin began teaching at CU-Boulder in 1998.
CAROL CLELAND (Brown, Ph.D. 1981)
Professor Cleland arrived at CU-Boulder in 1986, after having spent a year
on a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University's Center for the Study
of Language and Information. She is a member of NASA's Institute
for Astrobiology and CU's Institute for Cognitive Science.
JOHN A. FISHER (Minnesota, Ph.D. 1971)
Professor Fisher arrived at CU-Boulder in 1975. His dissertation was on
the notion of rule-following in Chomsky's and Wittgenstein's accounts of
language. He has also worked on animal minds and, over the last decade,
has focused on aesthetics. He is currently working on the distinction between
high and low art.
ROBERT HANNA (Yale University, Ph.D.
1989) Professor Hanna was at CU-Boulder from 1989 to 1998, at York University
(Canada) from 1995 to 1998, and returned to CU in 1999.
MICHAEL HUEMER (Rutgers, Ph.D. 1998)
Professor Huemer came to CU-Boulder in 1998.
ALISON M. JAGGAR (SUNY-Buffalo, Ph.D.
1970) Professor Jaggar joined the faculty at CU-Boulder in 1990 and holds
a joint appointment with the Women Studies Program.
DAN KAUFMAN (UMass, Ph.D. 2000) Professor Kaufman joined the faculty in 2004. His research focuses on 17th-century philosophy, especially the metaphysics of Descartes, Locke, and Leibniz. He is also interested in contemporary metaphysics, medieval philosophy, and philosophical theology.
CLAUDIA MILLS (Princeton, Ph.D. 1991)
Professor Mills arrived at CU-Boulder in 1992 after a journey that included
nine years of editing publications at the Institute for Philosophy and
Public Policy at the University of Maryland and a long career as the author
of many children's books (e.g., Dynamite Dinah, Dinah for President, Dinah
WESLEY MORRISTON (Northwestern, Ph.D.
1972) Professor Morriston has been teaching at CU-Boulder since 1972.
GRAHAM ODDIE (London, Ph.D. 1979)
Professor Oddie was at CU-Boulder from 1994 to 1996 and returned to the
department in 1997. He is currently the Department Chair.
ROBERT PASNAU (Cornell, Ph.D. 1994)
Professor Pasnau joined the faculty in 1999.
MICHAEL TOOLEY (Princeton, Ph.D. 1968)
Professor Tooley has been at CU-Boulder since 1992 and received the Boulder
Faculty Achievement Award for Research in 1999 for his book, Time, Tense,
and Causation (Oxford).
The University of Colorado at Boulder is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution that does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, creed, religion, or veteran status.