MA Qualifying Portfolio and Oral Exam


Note: It is assumed that the current course distribution requirements in the History of Philosophy – one course in Ancient Philosophy, one course in Medieval Philosophy, one course in Modern Philosophy and one course in post-Hegelian Philosophy – will have been completed before the exam.

No later than one week before the fall semester of the third year, full time students must without exception present the Director of Graduate Studies a portfolio of three papers submitted to satisfy the requirements for seminars taken in their normal course of study in the previous four semesters. The portfolios will be reviewed by a subcommittee of the Graduate Committee. One week before the fall break, this subcommittee will present students with a list of questions that will form the basis of an oral examination to be administered in the week after the fall break. 

The oral exam will be graded on the following scale: pass with distinction, pass, failure. This grade will become part – together with the portfolio, the record of course grades, the record of incomplete courses and other evidence of professional preparation including published materials and conference presentations – of a comprehensive evaluation by the Graduate Committee of each student’s qualification to be admitted to the Ph.D. level of the graduate program. The results of this comprehensive evaluation will be communicated to students before the Thanksgiving holiday.
The portfolio should be comprised of three well-written and cogently argued papers that taken together clearly demonstrate a grounding in the history of philosophy. The papers may but need not be reworked by students prior to submitting them as part of their portfolio. The papers should be chosen by students as representative of their preparation to advance to the next level in the graduate program. At least one of these papers must be on a subject in the history of philosophy from the Ancient to the Modern period, up to and including Hegel. At least one of these papers must be on a subject in the history of philosophy from the period following Hegel to the present. All three papers must be presented with a word count and must be 6000-7000 words long, including footnotes.
The subcommittee will be formed by the graduate director from a regular rotation of faculty serving on the Graduate Committee. The subcommittee will be free to divide the work involved in developing questions from the portfolios as it sees fit.
The list of questions presented to students will be drawn from the papers students submit in their portfolio. Students will be presented with no more than six questions. Which of these questions are asked in the course of the oral examination will be decided exclusively by the examining subcommittee.

The  oral examination will be used as a springboard to allow students to demonstrate their philosophical acumen and will test a student’s knowledge of the history, tradition and transmission of the conceptual variation in the areas represented by the papers in the student’s portfolio. It will last no longer than 90 minutes.



Philosophy Doctoral Program


Villanova University, SAC 108
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Phone: 610.519.8997
Fax: 610.519.4639

Director:  Yannik Thiem
Coordinator:  Terry DiMartino