PhD Program


(revised April 2020)

You will find here detailed explanation of the rules of the Philosophy Department PhD program. The Boğaziçi University page of "General Rules and Regulations of Graduate Education" (in Turkish) can be viewed here. That page contains the general rules binding all departments.

1. The Remedial Program

Students whose undergraduate and Master's degrees are not in philosophy have to complete two semesters of undergraduate courses in order to prepare themselves for the Doctoral Program. Typically the remedial students take four courses each semester. Three of those are the "must courses" for all remedial students and each term one course is chosen by the student, as explained below.

1st semester:
Phil 131 Logic I
Phil 101 Introduction to Philosophy
Phil 273 Epistemology
Phil 341 Ethics
Phil 213 Ancient Philosophy
Phil 313 Modern Philosophy I

In the first semester the students must take Phil 131, Phil 273, Phil 341

2nd semester:
Phil 132 Logic II
Phil 106 Philosophical Texts
Phil 222 Philosophy of Science
Phil 382 Ontology
Phil 314 Modern Philosophy II

In the second semester the students must take Phil 132, Phil 222, Phil 382

The remedial courses have to be completed in at most two semesters. Regulations do not allow for any extension (apart from a leave of absence with the approval of the Institute for Graduate Studies in Social Sciences). During the remedial year students cannot take any grad-level (5xx and 6xx) courses.

According to the regulations remedial students whose cumulative GPA is less than 2.5 at the end of a semester, and those who get an F in any class are dismissed from the program.

2. The Doctoral Program Coursework

PhD students have to take 6 courses to complete their coursework. Normally students are expected to take 3 courses per semester and finish their coursework in 2 semesters. Among the 6 courses taken, 4 of them must cover certain area requirements, as explained below.

Graduate courses that are opened each term are categorized in three groups:

Group 1: ethics, aesthetics, social philosophy, political philosophy, philosophy of law.
Group 2: logic, philosophy of science, epistemology, metaphysics and ontology, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind.
Group 3: history of philosophy.

Courses in Groups 1 and 2 have predominantly contemporary (as opposed to predominantly Ancient or Medieval or Modern) content. Courses in Group 3 have predominantly Ancient or Medieval or Modern (as opposed to contemporary) content.

Note: A graduate course offered in any semester cannot satisfy the requirement for more than one group.

The area requirements are as follows:

One course from Group 1
Two courses from Group 2
One course from Group 3

The remaining 2 courses that are required may be taken from any group or from elective courses not falling into any of these groups.

Among these remaining courses, at most one can be directed study and at most one can be from outside the department. However, for these sorts of courses the student must get the approval of the graduate advisor. Directed studies and courses taken outside the Philosophy Department do not fulfill any area requirement. For successful completion of the PhD courses, the grade point average must be at least 3.00 (not counting the remedial year).

Typically each semester at least one course from each area is offered. The graduate advisor will let you know during registration which course falls under which area. 

Click here to view the "Graduate Programs in Philosophy" page of Boğaziçi University. This page contains a full list and descriptions of the courses that are currently in the catalogue. The courses that are actually opened vary each term and are decided by the department.

3. Important Reminders about the PhD Program

(a) PhD students determine their thesis supervisor by the end of the second PhD term (not counting the Remedial), and let the Institute of Graduate Studies (hereafter 'SBE') know of their decision by submitting the relevant form.

(b) PhD students must complete their coursework within at most 4 terms.

(c) PhD students who have completed their coursework will take their qualifying exams the following semester. They will enroll in PHIL 689 (1 credit) and will receive a letter grade based on their performance in the qualifying exams (see below for details). After they pass all of the qualifying exams, they present a Proposal and then start writing their theses.

(d) The forms are an important part of students' responsibility and must be filled out and submitted to the SBE in a timely fashion. The Institute's link for downloadable forms is here. Doctoral students must examine those forms and get clear on which ones they need to submit at what stage of the program.

4. Qualifying Exams

Each student has to select three areas from the list that follows. One will be the major area, and the other two the minor areas in which the student has to be examined. 


Ancient OR medieval history of philosophy
Modern history of philosophy
Social and political philosophy
Logic OR philosophy of logic OR philosophy of mathematics
History of science OR philosophy of science
Philosophy of mind
Philosophy of language
Philosophy of cognitive science

Students are required to prepare their three reading lists in consultation with their committee members as explained below. All qualifying students must actually finalize their reading lists before the registration period in the beginning of their PhD Qualifying Exams semester. This means that students have to start working on the reading lists in the semester before the one they take the qualifying exams.

In their Qualifying Exams term PhD students have to submit a form to the SBE informing the Institute about their exam committee. Each student should select a five-person qualifying exam committee (plus two substitute members). One member is the prospective thesis supervisor and, at the same time, the chairperson of the exam committee. Another two professors from a university other than Boğaziçi should be the 'external' committee members. The remaining three members are to be selected among the professors of Boğaziçi University Philosophy Department. There must be also two "substitute" members, one being a professor from another university. Boğaziçi academics other departments cannot serve as external members. This committee is distinct from the 5-people dissertation committee to be formed afterwards, even though committee members may certainly overlap.

Three out of the five exam committee members will have to be in charge of the three area exams, being experts in the relevant exam areas. The exam committee supervisor will be in charge of the student’s major area. The two members in charge of the minor areas may also be external professors. Students have to be in close communication with those three members in order to prepare three exam lists.

In preparing the reading lists, a student may focus on certain aspects within an area. The student must include readings that survey the entire field. The exam on the two minor areas will have to be designed so as to test the candidate's knowledge of the major figures, theories, questions etc. in those areas, as well as their ability to teach an introduction course in the relevant field. The exam on the major area will go beyond that and will also test whether the candidate is ready to do original and independent research in that area.

Before the beginning of the Qualifying Exam term students have to finalize their reading lists for the exam in consultation with the exam committee members. The final forms pertaining to the reading lists must be approved by the whole committee; then be sent to the grad advisor in the beginning of the term. All this communication can be done via email. The thesis supervisor oversees this entire process.

Please note that the lists must be finalized and approved at the beginning of the exam term, at the latest. Around that time students must also fill out and submit the "PhD Qualifying Exam Committee Assignment Form" to the SBE.

The Qualifying Exam consists of the following three components: 

Written exam: The candidate has to take three written exams in the three areas specified in advance. For each area, each committee member will organize and carry out the exam procedure in the area of their expertise. Each exam will last for three hours; the three written exams will preferably be taken on three different days.

Qualifying Paper: The candidate will write a comprehensive paper on her/his major area and submit it to the committee before s/he takes the written exams. The paper is expected to show that the candidate is ready to work on her/his PhD dissertation. The paper cannot be a term paper written for a seminar course the candidate has taken earlier, but it could be a substantially revised and enlarged version of such a paper.

Oral Exam: After the candidate submits her/his qualifying paper and takes the written exams, s/he will take an oral exam. The committee members may ask questions drawn from the three areas of the candidate, his/her answers in the written exams, and issues discussed in the qualifying paper.

Note: The timetable for the exams is set by consulting all of the three committee members. The final decision about the candidate is made typically before the finals period at that term. The candidates are advised to keep this point in mind in planning for their qualifying semester.

The committee will reconvene to assess the candidate's performance in all three written exams separately, as well as in the oral defense and the qualifying paper. If the committee decides that the candidate's work in any of the exams is not satisfactory, the candidate will be considered to have failed on that part of the qualifying exam. In such a case the candidate will be given a second chance to take that part of the exams in the next semester. If the candidate does not pass all exams by the end of the following semester, the candidate will be dismissed from the program.

Once the exams are over, the committee reports their decision to the SBE no later than three days.

The exams must be successfully completed by the end of the 5th term of the PhD program.

5. The Proposal 

Candidates who pass the qualifying exams will start working on their Proposal. A new committee called the "Supervisory Committee" ("Tez İzleme Komitesi") is formed to oversee the processes of proposal and thesis writing. The student is also expected to submit the relevant form. In this committee one member is the advisor, one is an academic outside the department, and the last one a member of the department. If there is a co-advisor of the thesis, they can join the meetings without a right to vote.

The candidate has to present and defend a 'proposal' before the members of the committee within six moths after they pass the qualifying exams. The Proposal will be an oral presentation of the candidate's work that is expected to lead into his/her dissertation. The candidate has to submit a written version of the Proposal to the committee members at least a week before the oral presentation takes place. If the committee members do not find the Proposal satisfactory they will give their specific comments on how it may be improved or they may ask the candidate to work on another topic. The candidate will then be given a second chance to present a proposal the following semester.

Doctoral candidates must bear in mind that the topic, supervisor and committee of their Proposal first has to be approved by the Department before the actual defense of the Proposal. This is done during the semester immediately following the completion of exams. Each candidate offers in a list of the potential members of the thesis committee and spells out the proposed study. The formal details of the PhD Proposal are the same as that of an MA Proposal. After the approval, the candidate can start preparing for the Proposal-paper and its oral defense.

Once the thesis work begins, students register for the thesis course (PHIL-790). You must pick the right section which bears the name of your current/prospective thesis supervisor. You will get a TP grade for 790 every term unless you fail to keep in touch with your thesis advisor.

In order to complete the program successfully, there must be at least three interim meetings. The results of these meetings are sent to the Institute together with the relevant form.

6. Thesis: The Last Stage 

At least one month before the Doctoral Thesis defense, students fill out a form announcing the synthesis of their thesis committee (5 regular members plus 2 substitute members). When the final version is ready to present, the thesis supervisor e-mails a PDF copy of the thesis to the SBE. If the defense is successful, the student contacts the "thesis editor" for the academic checking of the final text.

The committee may decide to give a 6 month extension for a revision. Students defend the revised thesis before the committee.

The time limit for completion of the Doctoral program is 12 semesters, regardless of the registration status of students throughout the program.