What Is the Curriculum of a Doctor of Philosophy Degree?

A Doctor of Philosophy degree program covers various topics related to philosophy, and is offered by numerous schools. Read on for information on potential courses. Schools offering Liberal Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Courses in a Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy Curriculum

Although the curriculum for a Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy differs from school to school, there are some standard requirements for the degree. A Ph.D. in Philosophy curriculum may include coursework in logic, value theory, epistemology, metaphysics, the philosophy of science and the history of philosophy. Students should be proficient in relevant foreign languages and complete dissertations on original research topics.

Important Facts About Doctor of Philosophy Degrees

Program Length 4.5 to 5.5 years
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree, background in philosophy, recommended 3.5 GPA
Possible Careers Lecturer, professor, lawyer (requires additional education)
Concentrations Many; options may include philosophy of language or the mind, ethics, history of philosophy in different eras
Median Salary (2018)$78,470 (postsecondary teachers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)15% (postsecondary teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)


Courses on logic cover inductive and deductive systematic logic, metatheory, semantics, completeness and set theory. Learners might examine different types of logic such as modal, deontic, epistemic, many-valued, and tense logic. Courses in the philosophy of logic may also be required.

Value Theory

Value theory looks at how people understand and value different things. It asks how people conceptualize the difference between good and evil and how we evaluate such differences on a moral scale. Ph.D. students explore the varieties of goodness, intrinsic value, monism and pluralism, incommensurability, incomparability, teleology and agent-relative value.


Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that looks at the theory of knowledge. It asks the basic question 'What is knowledge?' A curriculum in epistemology explores how people learn and know different things and how they understand the differences between philosophical areas such as belief and truth.


A course in metaphysics may explore the nature of God and the relationship between human beings and God's nature. Other topics considered may include God's attributes, finite causation, human freedom, omniscience, omnipotence, Incarnation and the Trinity.

Philosophy of Science

Courses in the philosophy of science look at science from a philosophical perspective. It explores how scientists and scientific theories affect philosophical theories and movements. For example, the philosophy of neuroscience covers the functions in the brain, the notion of consciousness, cognitive function, executive function, brain development, computer modeling and emotions. Other scientific disciplines considered include biology, bioethics, philosophy and medical ethics.

History of Philosophy

In courses such as this one, students might explore ancient philosophy, the history of political thought, the history of modern philosophy and the history of ethical theory. Students may also take classes that emphasize the history of specific movements, philosophies or thinkers.

Other Requirements

Other requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy degree include proficiency in a relevant foreign language, usually French, German, Greek or Latin. Students must also complete original research in an area of philosophy, write a dissertation and present an oral defense.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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