The Philosophy Department inaugurated a PhD program in the Fall of 1990, in preparation
for the increased demand for university and college professors. The PhD program complements
an active MA program, which has been in place since 1968, and an expanding undergraduate
program, which has nearly 100 majors.
The program is designed to address a felt need in the profession of philosophy for
scholars able to transcend the confines of a specialty. In their research, members
of the department address major issues of both Anglo-American and continental philosophy
as well as scholarly issues concerning major figures of the history of philosophy.
This diversity is coupled with a unique spirit of cooperation throughout the faculty.
The course of study of graduate students is designed to take advantage of this breadth
and attitude of cooperation. Each student receives a thorough grounding in the history
of philosophy and familiarity with both the contemporary analytic and continental
traditions, in order to achieve an understanding of the place of his or her areas
of research within the several basic areas and methodologies of philosophy and the
historical tradition on which they are based.
Specializations are available, supported in each case by several members of the department,
in most areas of analytic and continental philosophy and the history of philosophy,
as well as on topics and issues that cross traditional boundaries.
Seminars are small, and students receive individual attention, often from several
members of the department with overlapping research interests. The atmosphere in the
department is congenial. There are many informal opportunities for ongoing philosophical
discussion among students and faculty away from the classroom.
The PhD program is structured to provide a broad background in the history of philosophy
and in the different contemporary methodologies, and then to proceed to the specialization
requisite for the dissertation. It is designed to avoid a premature and overly narrow
specialization and to ensure a competence in the basic fields of philosophy as a foundation
for subsequent concentration in one or more areas of continental philosophy, analytic
philosophy or the history of philosophy. Graduates will thus be prepared to teach
not only their specialty, but also a wide variety of basic courses, and will be prepared
to function effectively as teachers and colleagues even in departments in which the
main focus is in a tradition or methodology different from their own concentration.
They will also be able to apply their expertise to areas of endeavor outside academia,
such as law, publishing, medicine, computer design, theology, and secondary education.
Students whose objective is a PhD in philosophy at the University of Memphis and who
satisfy the admission requirements should apply directly to the PhD program. Applicants
not admitted to the PhD program because of lack of space will be considered for the
MA program if they indicate their desire to be so considered by marking MA/PhD on
their application and letter of recommendation forms. (Students in the MA program
may apply for admission to the PhD program).
The aim of the department of philosophy is that each student has an understanding
of the place of his or her areas of research within the basic areas and methodologies
of philosophy, including both the analytic and continental traditions and the common
historical basis on which they are founded. To foster this aim, the following course
distribution requirements are included among the requirements for the PhD.
Students must take a core consisting of: (a) four courses in the history of philosophy
(at least one in ancient and one in modern); (b) two courses in metaphysics, epistemology,
and related areas; and (c) two courses in normative areas of philosophy (at least
one of which must be in ethics).
At least one course must be a systematic study of a major figure. At least two courses
are in the analytic tradition and two courses in the continental tradition. These
will normally be courses in the eight-course core described in the preceding paragraph.
Students must take the proseminar on writing and research methods and the teaching
of philosophy, normally during the first semester.
Several assistantships are available for students in the PhD program. First year students
serve as graders, tutors, or discussion leaders. After the second year, PhD students
teach sections of introductory courses. Assistantships are normally for a five-year
period for students making satisfactory progress toward the degree. Applications received
after January 5th cannot be guaranteed consideration for an assistantship for the
Additional information and guidelines regarding our PhD Program may be found in the
Graduate Studies Guidebook , or by contacting the Graduate Studies Coordinator, Dr. Kas Saghafi.
The department of philosophy offers a comprehensive and balanced program of study
leading to the degree of Master of Arts in Philosophy. The aim of the program is twofold.
It is designed to provide comprehensive training in philosophy for students seeking
work beyond the baccalaureate, as background for such areas as law, theology, psychology,
and cognitive science, or solely for self-enrichment. For students intending to continue
their study in a doctoral program, the program also provides the thorough preparation
necessary for admission to and success in a PhD program.
The program requires 33 semester hours of course work for students who do not write
a thesis, 30 hours for students who write a thesis. These must include (a) two courses
in the history of philosophy; (b) two courses from metaphysics, epistemology and related
areas; (c) two courses in normative areas of philosophy; and (d) at least one course
taught from the contemporary analytic tradition and one taught from the continental
Several assistantships are available for students in the MA program. Assistantships
are renewed for the second year for assistants making satisfactory progress in the
two year MA program. Applications received after January 5th cannot be guaranteed
consideration for an assistantship for the following fall semester.
Additional information and guidelines regarding our MA Program may be found in the
Graduate Studies Guidebook , or by contacting the Graduate Studies Coordinator, Dr. Kas Saghafi.
Erasmus Mundus Program
The Erasmus Mundus Program is a Master's program comprised of a consortium of seven European Union universities
(including those in Germany, Belgium, France, and the Czech Republic) and three "third-country"
partners from non-EU countries. The Department of Philosophy at the University of
Memphis is one of those “third-country” partners. The program provides students and
scholars from EU participating universities the opportunity to study philosophy at
the University of Memphis. The program also provides our graduate students and faculty
the opportunity to travel as visiting scholars to Departments of Philosophy within
Application guidelines and further information are available here: .
For further information regarding deadlines and application guidelines for these awards,
please consult the Graduate Studies Coordinator, Dr. Kas Saghafi.
Hillary Johnson Memorial Graduate Student Teacher Award
This award is in memory of Hillary Johnson, a graduate student in philosophy whose
life was tragically ended. The award is given each year to a student who has exhibited exceptional teaching skills. Award recipients receive $300.
Graduate Student Departmental Service Award
This award is given each year to a graduate student who has exceeded expectations
regarding departmental service. Award recipients receive $100.
Bornblum Graduate Student Travel Award
This award was made possible by the generous donation of David Bornblum and was made
in honor of his father Bert Bornblum, a long time friend of the philosophy department.
It provides, on a competitive basis, funds to curb the expense of professional travel
for graduate students. Further information is available here.
Philosophy Study Abroad Program
The Philosophy Department at the University of Memphis is pleased to make available
to eligible PhD students the opportunity to study overseas. Given eligibility and approval, the student may study in an approved university or
more generally in an approved city for one semester. The program is intended to allow
our best students to further their study of Continental or Analytic philosophy by
means of attending university philosophy seminars and by means of investigating archives
such as those at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Further information is available
Graduate School Awards
For further information regarding deadlines and application guidelines for the following
awards, please consult the Graduate School's website.
Provost's Predoctoral Diversity Awards
These awards are bestowed by at least two departments each year, based on how well
various requirements have been met. The amount of the awards vary by discipline and
will be renewable for up to five years. All include a tuition scholarship. Each year
departments compete based on their record of recruiting and graduating minority students. Students must be nominated by the department in order to apply for these awards.
The University of Memphis Society, Inc. Doctoral Fellowship
Established by UMS, Inc., this fellowship is awarded annually to a full-time doctoral
student based on exceptional academic achievement. The amount varies from year to
Morton Thesis/Dissertation Awards
The result of a generous donation by S. Morgan Morton ('63), these awards honor an
outstanding master's and doctoral student whose thesis or dissertation prospectus
has been approved by their committee. The thesis award is $500 and the dissertation
award is $750.
Graduate Assistant Meritorious Teaching Awards
These awards are given to two outstanding teaching assistants. Candidates are nominated
by faculty, students, alumni, or their respective college dean. Each recipients is
Part-Time Master's Fellowships
Awarded to entering students, these $1500 awards ($750 per semester) do not include
a tuition scholarship.