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Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

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Undergraduate Programs

Colleges of Arts and Sciences Program Requirements

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College of Arts and Humanities
Sakamaki D-301
2530 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8649
Fax: (808) 956-9228
E-mail: philo@hawaii.edu
Web: www.hawaii.edu/phil


*Graduate Faculty

*E. Deutsch, PhD (Chair)—comparative philosophy, Indian philosophy, metaphysics, aesthetics
*T. Albertini, DPhil—Renaissance and early modern philosophy, Islamic philosophy, feminist issues in philosophy
*R. T. Ames, PhD—Daoist philosophy, Confucian philosophy, American philosophy, philosophy of culture, comparative philosophy
*R. Bontekoe, PhD—hermeneutics, epistemology, philosophy of law
*A. Chakrabarti, DPhil—Indian philosophy, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind
*C. Y. Cheng, PhD—philosophy of language and logic, American philosophy, classical Chinese philosophy, Neo-Confucian philosophy
*V. Dalmiya, PhD—epistemology, feminist philosophy
T. Jackson, PhD—specialist, director of philosophy in the schools; logic, comparative philosophy, philosophy for children
*K. Kipnis, PhD—philosophy of law, social and political philosophy, ethics
*S. Odin, PhD—Japanese philosophy, comparative philosophy, American philosophy
*G. R. Parkes, PhD—comparative philosophy (continental European, Chinese, and Japanese), environmental philosophies, philosophies of culture
*R. W. Perrett, PhD—Buddhist philosophy, Indian philosophy, moral and political philosophy, metaphysics, philosophy of religion
*J. E. Tiles, DPhil—ancient philosophy, American philosophy, philosophical logic, philosophy of science
*M. E. Tiles, PhD—history and philosophy of mathematics, contemporary French philosophy of science, science and technology

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

R. A. Amundson, PhD—philosophy of science
P. T. Manicas, PhD—political, social philosophy

Degrees Offered: BA (including minor) in philosophy, MA in philosophy, PhD in philosophy

The Academic Program

Philosophy (PHIL) is an open inquiry that involves the disciplined examination of our most comprehensive goals, standards, and criteria. For example: how should we conduct ourselves in our relations with one another? (ethics); what standards should we use to assess our institutions? (social and political theory); how may we achieve knowledge and understanding of the world around us? (epistemology, philosophy of science); what are the most general structures of thought and reality? (philosophy of logic and language, metaphysics); and what place does art have, or what place should it have, in human life? (aesthetics). In pursuing these questions, philosophy is often led to confront issues about the ultimate nature of reality and value or to consider possible limitations on our ability to answer or even to ask such questions. Philosophy proceeds with its task in part through contributing to ongoing discussions and debates within disciplines and traditions and also by cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural comparisons.

Students majoring in philosophy work to develop for themselves a comprehensive view of the aspirations and achievements of human culture and in the process are encouraged to acquire the skills of careful reading and interpretation of texts, of writing that conveys clearly their understanding of some issue, and of responding critically to ideas that other people advance. The Department of Philosophy’s faculty has expertise in an unusually diverse range of philosophic traditions. The faculty includes specialists in Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Buddhist, and Islamic thought, as well as in many of the important Western traditions. The department as a whole has long been recognized internationally for its comparative work between philosophic traditions.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree


Students must complete 30 credit hours of philosophy courses, including required courses:

  • PHIL 110
  • PHIL 449
  • Two courses from PHIL 211, 212, 213, or 414 (Alpha)
  • One course from PHIL 300 to 318
  • One course from PHIL 330 to 380
  • Four additional courses above the 100 level (electives)



Students must complete 15 credit hours of philosophy above the 100 level. A minor will have any one of the following themes: Asian philosophy; religion and metaphysics; ethics and law; science, technology and values; humanities and the arts, and history of philosophy.

For details of which courses fall under these themes, students should consult the department undergraduate adviser.

Graduate Study

The department offers graduate training leading to the MA and PhD degrees. Students with BA degrees may apply to the MA program. Students are accepted directly into the PhD program only if they have already received the MA degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution and have met any other departmental requirements.

Specific requirements for all graduate degrees are detailed in a brochure available from the department upon request.

Whatever their field of specialization, graduate students in philosophy must acquire a thorough knowledge of the history and problems of Western philosophy. On the basis of this foundation, students may further specialize in one of three areas of study: Western philosophy, Asian philosophy, or comparative philosophy.

Although the Western philosophical tradition remains the fundamental frame of reference for the department, the opportunity provided for specialization in the area of Asian philosophy is unique in that the UH is the only institution of higher learning in the U.S. with a regular program leading to the PhD degree with areas of specialization in Indian, Buddhist, Chinese, Japanese, and comparative philosophy. The area of comparative philosophy is the most demanding; at the PhD level its requirements include proficiency in both the Western and Asian fields. The candidate is expected to gain a mastery of some specific topic that can be approached through the contexts of two or more philosophic traditions.

All graduate students shall develop their course of study in consultation with the chair of the graduate program.

The MA and PhD in Asian philosophy are recognized Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) regional graduate programs. Residents of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are eligible, on admission, to enroll at Hawai‘i-resident tuition rates.

Master’s Degree

The MA program places primary emphasis upon course work.

Admission Requirements

Students seeking admission must have a BA degree, including the equivalent of 30 credit hours in philosophy. Students who lack this preparation must make up deficiencies either before or during graduate study. In the latter case, students will be admitted only conditionally, pending removal of the deficiencies. Deficiencies may also be designated in cases where a student’s background does not include a sufficient number and range of courses in Western philosophy. The GRE General Test is required of all program applicants to whom it is accessible.

Degree Requirements

To be eligible for conferral of the MA degree, a student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.3 while completing at least 30 credit hours of course work, at least 18 of which must be in courses numbered 600 and above. In addition, students submit three papers for a culminating exam, which includes an oral component. Also required for the MA degree are four semesters (or the demonstrated equivalent) of at least one philosophically significant language other than English: typically classical Greek, Latin, French, German, classical Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit, or Pali.

Doctoral Degree

The doctoral program consists of two stages. The first stage is that leading to admission to candidacy; the second, to the awarding of the degree. Normally the first involves at least two years of course work beyond the MA in preparation for departmental and language examinations. The second stage involves writing a dissertation and passing an oral examination in its defense. Students must attain certification for PhD candidacy—that is, fulfill all the requirements for the PhD except for the writing and oral defense of the dissertation—within four years of admission to the PhD program.

Admission Requirements

Students seeking admission must hold an MA degree or the equivalent in philosophy and have earned a minimum GPA of 3.3 in courses taken for the MA. Students may be required to make up deficiencies upon entry into the PhD program (see requirements for MA degree above). The GRE General Test is required of all program applicants to whom it is accessible.

Degree Requirements

To be eligible for conferral of the doctor of philosophy degree, a student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.3 while completing at least 30 credit hours of course work beyond the requirements for the MA. A minimum of 18 of these credit hours must be taken at or above the 600 level. Students are required to demonstrate competence in each of three general areas: 1) history of philosophy; 2) metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and philosophy of science; and 3) ethics, aesthetics, social and political philosophy, and philosophy of law. Course listings made available each semester will indicate the general area or areas within which each course fits. Students are required to pass two examinations in an area related to the subject matter of their prospective dissertation, to complete an original dissertation, and to pass a final oral dissertation defense. In addition, students shall demonstrate proficiency in at least one (and where deemed necessary two) philosophically significant language(s) other than English: typically classical Greek, Latin, French, German, classical Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit or Pali. Language proficiency examinations will be conducted through the Graduate Division and the department of UH Mânoa responsible for teaching that language.

PHIL Courses