Carnegie Mellon University

Doctorate Program in Philosophy and
Doctorate Program in Logic, Computation and Methodology

The doctorate programs in Logic, Computation, and Methodology and Philosophy have identical requirements. The distinction in name is meant to reflect the choice of focus during the student's study. The degree is designed to facilitate the development of a sophisticated understanding of philosophical problems in a target area of study. 

Core requirements (10 courses)

  • 80-600 Philosophy Core Seminar: Survey of crucial research in philosophy, logic, and related areas (12 units)
  • 80-602 Philosophy Core Seminar II: Continued survey of crucial research in philosophy, logic, and related areas (12 units)
  • 80-610 Formal Logic: The syntax and semantics of first-order logic, and related topics (12 units)
  • Formal Methods: Students should choose three different "mini" (i.e., half-semester) courses from among the available options. These courses cover a range of formal frameworks including Bayes Nets, Decision Theory, Game Theory, and Formal Learning Theory (6 units each x 3 courses)
    • 80-603 Formal Methods: Tools and Techniques
      80-606: Formal Methods: Evolutionary Game Theory

      80-616: Formal Methods: Decisions and Games

      80-617: Formal Methods: Causation

      80-619: Formal Methods: Epistemic Logic and Topology

  • 80-611: Undecidability and Incompleteness (half semester): The theory of computability or Gödel's incompleteness theorems (6 or 12 units)
  • 80-811: Professional development seminar: This class is for professional development of masters and PhD students in the philosophy department. All students who are in their first three years of graduate programs should enroll in this course. (6 units x 3)

Breadth requirements (5 courses)

At least three courses in the analytic tradition:

  • 80-605 Decision Theory (12 units)
  • 80-612 Mathematical Revolutions (12 units)
  • 80-680 Philosophy of Language (12 units)
  • 80-813 Seminar on the Philosophy of Mathematics (12 units)
  • 80-814 Categorical Logic (12 units)
  • 80-815 Seminar on the Foundations of Statistics (12 units)
  • 80-816 Causality and Machine Learning (12 units)
  • 80-818 Seminar on Topics in Logic: Intuitionistic Logic (12 units)
  • 80-821 Seminar on Formal Epistemology: Belief and Evidence (12 units)
  • 80-830 Seminar on Ethical Theory (12 units)
  • 80-835 Seminar on Social and Political Philosophy (12 units)

Other suitable courses and seminars at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh

  • One course in the history of philosophy (such as 80-655 Pragmatism, or 80-612 Mathematical Revolutions) (12 units)
  • An additional course from either category (12 units)

Interdisciplinary requirements (2 courses)

Two interdisciplinary electives, e.g. in logic, computer science, statistics, game theory, linguistics, economics, or psychology, to develop formal skills that will support thesis research. These courses need to be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Suitable courses include:

  • 10-701 Machine Learning (12 units)
  • 15-210 Parallel and Sequential Data Structures and Algorithms (12 units)
  • 21-603 Model Theory I (12 units)
  • 85-719 Introduction to Parallel Distributed Processing (12 units)
  • 85-765 Cognitive Neuroscience (12 units)

Electives (5 courses)

Five unconstrained electives (including directed reading and dissertation research) (12 units each)

NOTE: Undergraduate courses, those numbered XX-100 - 500, may be used to fulfill a requirement only with special permission. Students interested in using an undergraduate course as part of their plan of study should contact the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss whether it can be used for a requirement.

Students are advised to do supervised reading and research with a member of the faculty in the spring of their first year, to explore possible research topics for the MS thesis. In the spring of the second year, students present their MS thesis research to their peers in the Thesis Seminar. The MS thesis itself should be completed by the end of the second year.

In the third year, students choose a dissertation topic and committee. Students must present and defend a prospectus by the end of the fourth year, at the latest, and are expected to complete their doctoral dissertation by the end of the fifth year.

Teaching experience is an essential component of the PhD program. It provides fundamental professional skills for those pursuing academic careers and broadens the focused expertise of pure researchers. Students are required to serve as an assistant or instructor each semester, with the following exceptions: students are exempt from teaching one semester in their first year, and one semester later on, while they are carrying out research on their thesis.

Students serving as principal instructors are mentored by a faculty member. Each foreign student whose native language is not English must take a proficiency exam with the ESL Center prior to teaching.

The department's interdisciplinary research thrust affords an unusually broad range of career possibilities. Graduates of the program have been offered positions in Philosophy, Mathematics, Psychology, Computer Science, and Statistics, as well as research positions in industry. This wide range of interesting career opportunities reflects the department's unique dedication to serious, interdisciplinary research ties.

For a complete listing of our graduates and placement record, see our Ph.D. alumni page.