Carnegie Mellon University

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

The program's flexible requirements provide a broad curricular grounding, steady involvement in research, and the opportunity to practice the craft of teaching in an excellent undergraduate environment. Students are expected to complete an M.S. thesis by the middle of their third year, and a Ph.D. thesis by the end of their fifth year.

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 (6 units each x 3 courses)
    • 80-6XX: Formal Methods: Tools and Techniques, Computability Theory, Topology in Set Theory, Language & Meaning, Algorithmic Complexity, Evolutionary Game Theory, Decisions and Games, Causation, 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)

Three courses in the analytic tradition, one course in history of philosophy, and one course from either category (analytic or history).

Analytic Tradition such as:

  • 80-605 Game Theory (12 units)

  • 80-612 Seminar on Philosophy of Mathematics: Proofs as objects (12 units)

  • 80-680 Philosophy of Language (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 (12 units)

  • 80-821 Seminar on Formal Epistemology (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

History of Philosophy such as:

  • 80-655 Pragmatism (12 units)
  • 80-612 Seminar on Philosophy of Mathematics: Proofs as objects (12 units)

An additional course from either analytic or history (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)
  • 80-900: Graduate Student Internship (var. 12-36 units)

  • Up to one interdisciplinary requirement may be fulfilled through a relevant internship, which must be approved by the advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Unconstrained 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 M.S. thesis. In the spring of the second year, students present their M.S. thesis research to their peers in the Thesis Seminar. The M.S. 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 Ph.D. 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.

Each student whose native language is not English must take a proficiency exam through the Student Academic Success Center prior to serving as a Teaching Assistant or sole instructor for a course.

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.