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Interdisciplinary Programs

The Philosophy Department at UC San Diego participates in two interdisciplinary programs, Cognitive Science and Science Studies.

Cognitive Science Interdisciplinary Degree Program

The Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Cognitive Science includes outstanding faculty from UC San Diego Departments including

  • Anthropology
  • Biology and Neurobiology
  • Cognitive Science
  • Communication
  • Computer Science and Engineering
  • Linguistics
  • Music
  • Neurosciences
  • Philosophy
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Students wishing to pursue a Ph.D. in "Philosophy and Cognitive Science" register in the Philosophy program in the normal fashion, but pursue a significant portion of their studies with faculty in the several departments participating in the interdisciplinary program.

Students may apply for admission to the interdisciplinary program after entering UC San Diego, preferably in the second or third year. (All students wishing to transfer into any interdisciplinary program must do so prior to the end of the fifth quarter of residency.)

Students in philosophy/cognitive science are required to complete all of the requirements for the PhD in philosophy with the following amendments:


  1. The student must take two out of the three graduate introductory Cognitive Science courses: COGS 201, 202, 203, taken for a grade.
  2. Three quarters of Cognitive Science 200.
  3. The equivalent of one year’s course work (six courses or a year of documented lab work) in one or more of the participating IDP departments outside the home department. (It should be noted that a philosophy graduate student who completes this requirement is deemed thereby to have satisfied the philosophy special skills requirement by gaining an approved special competency.)
  4. The distribution requirement is amended as follows: Before advancing to candidacy a philosophy/cognitive science student must have completed nine graduate seminars in philosophy distributed across the areas of (A) philosophy of science, (B) philosophy of mind and philosophy of language, (C) ethics and political philosophy, (D) epistemology and metaphysics, and (E) history of philosophy. The student must take at least one seminar from each of these five areas and at least two seminars from any four of these areas.
  5. The course work requirement is amended as follows: Over the first two years, a philosophy/cognitive science student will normally take at least three courses/seminars per quarter. Besides graduate seminars in philosophy and cognitive science, these may include up to two independent studies in philosophy, upper-division courses in philosophy (those numbered 100–199), approved upper-division or graduate courses in cognitive science and affiliated departments, and, if the student is a teaching assistant, PHIL 500 (Apprentice Teaching). (It should be noted that philosophy/cognitive students who complete all the other requirements for cognitive studies and who complete the amended distribution requirement above are thereby deemed to have completed the fourteen graduate seminars required of students prior to their advancing to candidacy.)
  6. A plan detailing the course of study must be approved by the Cognitive Science Program Committee. The dissertation should be interdisciplinary, reflecting the two areas of specialization.


Science Studies Program

SSP Handbook

The Science Studies Program at UC San Diego is committed to interdisciplinary investigations. Understanding, interpreting, and explaining the scientific enterprise demand a systematic integration of the perspectives developed within the history, sociology, and philosophy of science. The program offers students an opportunity to work towards such integration, while receiving a thorough training at the professional level in one of the component disciplines.

Students enrolled in the program choose one of the component disciplines for their major field of specialist studies, and are required to complete minor field requirements in the others. The core of the program, however, is a year-long seminar in Science Studies, led by faculty from all participating departments.

To obtain a Ph.D. in Philosophy/Science Studies, students must take a total of 18 courses, including:

  1. Nine seminars in philosophy with a grade of B+ or better, distributed across the areas of (A) philosophy of science and philosophy of logic, (B) philosophy of mind and philosophy of language, (C) ethics and political philosophy, (D) metaphysics and epistemology, and (E) history of philosophy. Students must take at least 1 seminar from each of these 5 areas and at least 2 seminars from any 4 of these areas. This requirement must be completed by the end of the 7th quarter of residence. By the end of the 5th quarter of residence, a student must have taken at least 5 Philosophy seminars (distributed across at least 3 areas), and must have achieved an average B+ or better in all philosophy seminars taken up to that point. Failure to take a sufficient number of seminars or to achieve a B+ average means that the student may not continue in the program after the 5th quarter.
  2. The Introduction to Science Studies 209A, plus the Seminar in Science Studies 209B, to be taken twice with changed content.
  3. Students must attend the Colloquium series for their entire first and second years. They receive course credit (Science Studies 209C) in any two quarters of their choice (once in their first year and once in their second year, with exceptions to be considered by the Director of Science Studies). This course is taken for a "S/U" grade option only.
  4. Two additional Science Studies courses outside philosophy drawn from a list of approved courses available each year from the Science Studies Program office. (One course in one of the sciences may be substituted for one of these courses as part of an approved program of study.)

The student's program of study must be approved by the Philosophy faculty advisor for Science Studies.

The examining committee will be made up of at least 5 members, 3 of whom must be faculty members in the home Department. At least 1 outside member must be senior faculty. At least 2 internal members and at least 1 external member should be faculty of the Science Studies Program. Exceptions to this policy require permission from the director of the science studies program.

Students may apply for admission to the interdisciplinary program at the same time that they apply to the Department of Philosophy, or at some point after entering UC San Diego. (All students wishing to transfer into any interdisciplinary program must do so prior to the end of the fifth quarter of residency.)