Procedures and Regulations
Students would do well to familiarize themselves with the General Regulations of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which are found in the Boston College Catalog. The Graduate School Office is located in Gasson Hall. The Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Candace Hetzner, is ready to be of assistance to graduate students.
You will be assigned to an academic advisor over the summer so that you may see that advisor about courses for the Fall as well as other issues when you arrive in September. Please fill out the enclosed form about your background, interests and goals so that we may assign you to an appropriate advisor. Should you desire a particular faculty member, please request that person on the form. We cannot guarantee you will be assigned to that person but we will do our best to match your interests with that of an advisor.
Students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences register either over the telephone or on line using Agora, the U-Dial system or the U-View Plus system. Instructions for using Agora, U-Dial and U-View Plus are found in the publications Schedule of Courses and Graduate Registration Materials. The latter includes all necessary information concerning procedures for registration, payment, deadlines, and the like. The U-View system permits graduate students to pre-register for courses. If necessary the department will approve overrides for graduate students who desire to register for courses marked “Closed.” Regular graduate student registration continues through the fifth day of classes; after that date students have to follow the procedures for late registration set forth in the Graduate Registration Materials. It is the responsibility of students to identify and correct any errors in their registrations.
Students who receive tuition remission are expected to notify the department and the graduate school immediately if they drop a course for which they have applied tuition remission. Students may take intensive summer language courses at Boston College at a reduced rate of tuition. To take advantage of this reduction please consult RoseMarie DeLeo.
Near-final listings of course offerings are available from the department in April (for the following fall) and November (for the following spring). More detailed information concerning courses can be found in the University's CoRSS Bulletin, or on the department’s web page. Students are asked to pre-register for courses but are encouraged to attend initial meetings of any number of courses in which they might be interested before making a final determination before the end of the first week of classes. Late entrance into courses can be disruptive, especially in the case of once-a-week and seminar courses. While graduate students' course selection does not require departmental approval, it is prudent to consult with a faculty advisor before finalizing one's selections.
Reading and Research Courses
Graduate students may ask faculty to offer Reading and Research Courses (PL799) on an individual or small group basis on topics not covered in current course offerings. Such requests are more likely to elicit positive responses if they are made well in advance and if they advance the faculty member's own research interests. The student should begin by securing the agreement of the faculty member in question, and then approach Peggy Bakalo, who will create a section number and an index number for the course.
Besides the courses listed as philosophy courses, graduate students have access to a variety of other courses, such as the “UN” or Perspectives courses, and in general to courses relevant to philosophy offered in other departments, e.g., Political Science, Theology. The Consortial Arrangement makes it possible for graduate students from Boston College to take courses at Boston University, Brandeis, and Tufts. Please see the Boston College Bulletin for more information. For information on the Boston Theological Institute consortium, please see the graduate director. The necessary forms for cross registration can be picked up from the Office of Student Services in Lyons Hall.
Transfer of Credit
Students who have completed one full semester of graduate work may request transfer of not more than six graduate transfer credits, i.e., two courses. Only courses in which a student has received a grade of B or better, and which have not been applied to a prior degree, will be accepted. Credits received for courses completed more than ten years prior to a student's admission to his or her current degree program are not acceptable for transfer. Transfer of Credit forms, which are available in the department office, should be submitted to the department for approval, together with an official transcript.
All required work in any course must be completed by the date set for the course examination. A student who has not completed the research or written work for a course may, with adequate reason and at the discretion of the faculty member, receive an Incomplete (I). Incompletes are expected to be completed by the sixth week of the following semester. By the decision of the Educational Policy Committee of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, an Incomplete that is not completed by the sixth week of the following semester will be automatically changed to an F, unless the faculty member involved assigns another grade. Students with three or more F’s will be barred from registration for further courses. Delay in the completion of Incompletes may be taken as an indication that a student is not maintaining satisfactory progress in the graduate program and may jeopardize a student's financial aid and standing in the program.
To graduate, a student has to sign up for graduation. Students can sign up on line through U-View, or complete a Graduation Form, which is available in the department office.
The total course work required for the Ph.D. is 16 courses (48 credits). Students entering the program with an M.A. in philosophy may be given credit for up to six courses (18 credits) toward this requirement, but must take a minimum of ten courses (30 credits) in the program. Students entering the program without an M.A. earn an M.A. on their way to the Ph.D.
In each graduate course, in which a student is registered for graduate credit, the student will receive one of the following grades at the end of the semester: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C, F, W, J, U, P, or I. The high passing grade of A is awarded for superior work. The passing grade of B is awarded for work that clearly is satisfactory at the graduate level. The low passing grade of C is awarded for work that is minimally acceptable at the graduate level. The failing grade of F is awarded for work that is unsatisfactory.
Students will be evaluated as making excellent, good, satisfactory, or poor progress toward completion of the degree. Any student who accumulates two or more Incompletes for course work will automatically be regarded as making poor progress toward the degree. Any student who accumulates two or more grades of C will also be regarded as making poor progress toward the degree. Any such student must meet immediately with the Graduate Program Director. Students judged to be making poor progress will be given specific directions for what they must accomplish in the next year in order to continue in the program beyond the following year. Students can be removed from the program after being evaluated as having made poor academic progress for two years. See Evaluation Policies & Procedures for Graduate Students.
A student who has not completed the research or written work for a course taken in the fall or spring semester or is absent from the course examination in either semester, may, with adequate reason at the discretion of the instructor, receive a temporary grade of Incomplete (I). All such I grades will automatically be changed to F on March 1 for the fall, August 1 for the spring, and October 1 for the summer.
A J grade is recorded when the grade is deferred. A faculty member may only assign a grade of J for courses that continue beyond the normal semester period. Such courses may include Internship, Dissertation Direction, and Student Teaching.
A U grade is recorded for ungraded courses such as doctoral continuation.
Graduate students who withdraw from a course after the drop/add period (first seven days of the semester) will have a “W” recorded in the grade column of their academic record.
Research Assistants are responsible for a total of up to 20 hours per week of service to faculty members of the department of philosophy. This responsibility begins on the first day of classes for each semester and ends on the last day of classes for each semester. Students are exempt from working over the Christmas, Spring and Easter breaks, unless by agreement with a particular faculty member his/her hours are redistributed from the expected amount during the semester so as to extend into a break period. The required 20 hours are usually divided among two and sometimes four faculty members (the specific assignments may change from the fall semester to the spring semester). Each such faculty member will have been informed by the Graduate Program Director or of her/his allotted hours; the student should work out a specific schedule which of them, to the degree that this is possible. Each student is to maintain a careful record of time committed each week, to each faculty member. On a monthly basis, faculty members should sign this record, whereupon the student will deliver it to the Graduate Program Director. Every sort of required activity should be recorded, whether it be research in the library, organizational support, or mandatory attendance at the faculty member's courses (i.e., attendance at courses the student is not already taking for credit as part of his/her own program of studies).
To provide Ph.D. students with the requisite pedagogical instruction and supervision, the department requires first-year and second-year Ph.D. students who are or will become teaching fellows to participate for four semesters in a series of training seminars. This course should be taken during the academic year before the first year of teaching and during the first year of teaching (i.e., generally the first two years of the program). These seminars deal with such issues as preparation of syllabi and exam schedules, fundamentals of the art of teaching, grading, and advising. Each student presents a sample syllabus which is then discussed by the group. The Seminar in Teaching meets six times a semester, generally on Monday afternoons. The Seminar does not count toward the doctoral requirement of 16 courses (48 credits).
The Ph.D. student must demonstrate proficiency in logic by taking PHIL5577 Introduction to Symbolic Logic with a grade of “B” or better, or by attaining a score of 80% or better on the Logic Proficiency Examination, or by showing evidence of comparable prior course work. PHIL5577 may count towards the requirement of 16 courses. (See Attachment 2)
The Ph.D. student must demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages, Latin, Greek, French, or German. Proficiency may be demonstrated by receiving a grade of “B” or better in two semesters of the language at the elementary college level or one semester at the intermediate college level, in the 12-week summer language class for graduate students at Boston College, or by passing the department’s own language examination. The requirement of the first language should be fulfilled before a graduate student begins his or her third year of study at Boston College. Both language requirements must be fulfilled before a student takes the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination. With department approval, a language that is central to the candidate’s thesis may be substituted for one of the other languages. For further information on the language exam, please consult Prof. Peter Kreeft.
The Preliminary Comprehensive Examination is the same as the M.A. Comprehensive Examination. Ph.D. students are expected to take this examination at the end of their first year in the program. Students sign up for the examination by completing the Master’s Comprehensive Examination Selection Sheet on line*, print out and submit to RoseMarie DeLeo. A failed examination may be retaken once and once only.
For those students without an M.A. degree, after you have fulfilled all the requirements for the Master’s degree, you must apply to the Graduate School and Student Services for your Master’s degree to be registered with the University.
Teaching Fellows are responsible for teaching one unit of Philosophy of the Person I in the Fall semester and Philosophy of the Person II in the Spring semester. The course description is currently as follows:
This course introduces students to philosophical reflection and to its history through the presentation and discussion of the writings of major thinkers from ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary periods. The course is designed to show how fundamental and enduring questions about the universe and about human beings recur in different historical contexts and from a range of approaches and methods. Emphasis is given to ethical themes, such as the nature of the human person, the foundation of human rights and corresponding responsibilities, and problems of social justice.
The Doctoral Comprehensive Examination is a two-hour oral examination. Students are responsible for selecting a professor to direct their dissertation and working with him/her to set up doctoral comprehensives. The dissertation director will guide you in developing a dissertation proposal. A student also works with his/her director to choose two major philosophers and one systematic problem, and to select and work with one professor on each of these parts. The two-hour exam will be divided evenly between defending the proposal and answering questions on the authors and problem. In general, the professor you worked with in each area will ask you questions in that area, while all may ask questions about the proposal. It is the responsibility of the student to secure the cooperation of four faculty examiners and to negotiate with them the terms of reference for the examination. A Ph.D. student must complete all course requirements, and demonstrate proficiency in two languages and in logic, before taking the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination. It is the responsibility of the student to ask the Registrar to send a final transcript of grades to the department, to complete the Selections form, and to submit it for department approval, together with a suggested date and time for the examination. Ph.D. Students are expected to take the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination (Attachment 3) by November of their fourth year (third year, for students entering the program with the M.A. in hand). A failed examination may be retaken once and once only.
The Ph.D. student is expected to complete a dissertation which embodies original and independent research and which demonstrates advanced scholarly achievement. The research must be carried out and the dissertation written under the direction of a tenure track faculty from the Philosophy Department. The student’s dissertation proposal constitutes part of the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination. The manuscript of the dissertation must be prepared according to a recognized manual of style (e.g., the MLA).
The Ph.D. student is expected to defend the dissertation in a public oral examination. This examination must be held during the academic year (September to April). Prior to the examination the dissertation must be approved by the supervisor and by a second reader. The chair of the department serves ex officio as third reader. It is the responsibility of the student to comply with the regulations of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and with the requirements of the University Registrar, to provide the department with an abstract of the dissertation and a copy of the dissertation for distribution to faculty and graduate students no later than thirty days before the defense. After the defense, two copies of the dissertation (the original plus one copy) are to be turned in to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, along with the required forms. One copy of the dissertation should be left with the department.
All requirements for the doctorate must be completed within eight consecutive years from the beginning of doctoral studies. Extensions beyond this limit may be made only with departmental recommendation and the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
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