Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Qualifying Papers (Written Preliminary Comprehensive Examinations)

You must pass two qualifying papers within a maximum of six calendar years from the time of your first enrollment in a course included on your Program of Study. Passing the qualifying papers counts as passing your Preliminary Written Comprehensive Examination as required by Graduate School. Current Graduate School policy provides that in order to pass your written comprehensive examination you must receive a positive vote from your Major Professor and all or all but one of the other members of your committee. The two qualifying papers must be in two different areas in philosophy. These areas should be comparable to areas of specialization and/or competence in current job listings in philosophy.

You should attempt to pass both qualifying papers by the end of your third year in the PhD program, and you are advised to attempt to pass at least one qualifying paper by the end of your second year in the PhD program. In order to work on a qualifying paper, you may sign up for a section of Phil 8800 (Readings and Research in Special Problems in Philosophy) with the faculty member who supervises this paper if that faculty member agrees to do so. If you sign up for a section of Phil 8800 in order to work on a qualifying paper, you may count this section towards the fulfillment of the course requirements, but not towards the fulfillment of the seminar requirement.

Qualifying papers are expected to be of near publishable quality—that is, of sufficient quality that they might reasonably be submitted to a peer reviewed journal or conference. Qualifying papers will be in an area and on a topic determined by your Advisory Committee in consultation with you.

Qualifying papers must be a minimum of 6,000 words and should not exceed 8,000 words, excluding the bibliography. Your paper must be prepared according to the style requirements of a specific, peer reviewed journal agreed upon by you and your Advisory Committee. Your qualifying paper may be based on a term paper previously submitted for a graduate course at the University of Georgia provided the instructor of the course approves.

You will write your qualifying paper under the supervision of one or two Philosophy Department faculty members acquainted with the area in which you are writing. Your supervising faculty may be drawn from your Advisory Committee, but your Major Professor may not supervise more than one qualifying paper.

Area, topic, and model peer reviewed journal for your qualifying paper require the unanimous approval of your Advisory Committee at the latest on Reading Day of the semester in which you intend to submit your paper. In other words, if you plan to take the exam in the fall, you must get approval of your list the previous spring. If you plan to take the exam in the spring your proposal must be approved the previous fall. It is your responsibility to have these parameters fixed and approved by your committee and submitted in writing to the Graduate Coordinator by this deadline. It is also your responsibility to secure the consent of one or two faculty members to supervise your writing. There is a departmental form for this purpose. You can download this form from our Departmental website.

The qualifying paper is due on Reading Day of the semester following the semester in which its proposal was approved. If you wish to turn in your paper at a later time, you must petition the Graduate Faculty of the Department for permission.

You must turn in both an electronic copy and a paper copy of your qualifying paper to the members of your Advisory Committee and the Graduate Coordinator. The electronic copy should be in pdf format, unless another format has been agreed upon by you and your committee.

The members of your Advisory Committee will read and evaluate your paper according to the following categories: Pass or Fail. If your paper is placed in the Fail category, you may revise it in accordance with the comments and advice from your committee and resubmit it the following semester. A revised and resubmitted qualifying paper will be evaluated by your committee according to the same categories: Pass or Fail. A revised and resubmitted qualifying paper which is placed in the Fail category is equivalent to a second failure on a written examination, and will result in dismissal from the program effective at the end of the semester in which the paper was resubmitted. After your paper has been evaluated, it will be returned to you with comments and advice from your Advisory Committee and/or other members of the Department. Your paper must be evaluated by the members of your Committee and their decisions conveyed to the Graduate Coordinator by two weeks after the date and time grades are due for the semester in which you submit the paper. The Graduate Coordinator will then convey the results to the student.

Support Philosophy at UGA

The Department of Philosophy appreciates your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more.