Frequently asked questions

The choice of field of study creates a presumption about the most appropriate way to satisfy the department's foreign language and research skill requirements. Students whose field of study is history of science will normally be expected to demonstrate proficiency in two languages, while students whose field of study is philosophy of science will normally be expected to demonstrate proficiency in one language and one other research skill, such as logic or probability theory, although they also have the option of pursuing two languages. Students whose field of study is equally in the history and the philosophy of science may satisfy the requirement in either way. In all cases, the exact means of fulfilling the requirement must be decided in consultation with the student’s advisory committee.

Most students demonstrate proficiency through passing the courses that the various language departments at IU offer for that purpose. If you already have a high degree of competence in an appropriate language, it is possible to test out of those courses. However, the exact requirements are set by the relevant department, not by HPSC, so the details depend on the language(s) under consideration. Here, for example, is some information about requirements for three languages:

  • French: See the list of requirements at the French and Italian department
  • German: Germanic Studies offers courses G491 and G492 for this purpose
  • Latin: CLAS-L 300: Intensive Introduction to Classical/Medieval Latin, and CLAS-L 400: Intensive Study of Literary Latin.

You should always check with the certifying department to make sure that requirements have not changed. Note that while these courses do count towards full-time student status, they do not count towards the 90 (60) credit hours required for the Ph.D.

The exact requirements for the logic tool skill are specified in the graduate bulletin. The requirement may be satisfied in either of two ways:

  1. Certification by a committee selected by the department of two HPSC faculty, using any combination of special examination, previously taken courses, or additional courses to be taken at IU
  2. Certification by the philosophy department, whose requirements presently consist of P505 (Logical Theory I) plus one course from the following list: P506 (Logical Theory II), P551 (Philosophy and Foundations of Mathematics), P350 (Logic of Sets), P352 (Logic and Philosophy), P550 (Systems of Modal Logic), P751 (Advanced Seminar in Logic).

Note that while these courses do count towards full-time student status, they do not count towards the 90 (60) credit hours required for the Ph.D.

View the Graduate School Bulletin

Students who wish to take a sequence of tool skill courses other than logic need approval from their advisor. The tool skill courses should be graduate-level courses. If the advisor agrees that a tool skill other than logic is useful for the student, the advisor must seek approval from the rest of the faculty (typically at a faculty meeting).

Note that while these courses do count towards full-time student status, they do not count towards the 90 (60) credit hours required for the Ph.D.

Every Ph.D. student needs to have a faculty advisory committee in place and formally approved no later than the end of their first year. Please do not confuse the Doctoral Advisory Committee (for beginning students) with the Ph.D. Research Committee (submitted when you advance to candidacy).

The College has an online form to facilitate the approval process. The form asks you to enter the names and usernames of committee members (at least two graduate faculty members in the major and one representing the minor). It then contacts those faculty members to confirm their willingness to serve on your committee. If you need help to identify or assign committee members, contact the director of graduate studies.

View academic procedures

Graduate students from other departments desiring a minor in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine must complete 12 graduate credit hours of course work in the department with a B+ or higher. The set of courses should represent a coordinated objective and must be approved by the director of graduate studies. Usually such a program of courses will include at least two of the department's core courses, but the others may be freely chosen from the graduate offerings.

This has not been attempted and we do not recommend it. Fellowships and teaching assistantships can only be given to full-time students. Also, University policy is that course and research credit hours expire after 7 years, therefore it is necessary to plan the degree so that credits taken at the beginning are still current at the end. Although it is possible to petition for reinstatement of expired credits, part time study would make it difficult to complete the degree in a timely fashion.

As long as you meet the eligibility requirements of the University Graduate School for continuing non-degree student status, you are eligible to sign up for HPSC courses.

In a relatively small department such as ours, a lively colloquium series is one of the principal means for getting a broad perspective concerning the discipline of the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine. As in other departments, attendance in our departmental colloquium is mandatory.

Colloquium attendance carries 0.5 CR (course number X733). Every student must take a set of two courses of colloquium credit (X733) by the end of the 4th semester. To obtain colloquium credit, students must take two semester-long courses of colloquium credit by the end of the 4th semester and attend at least 75% of the departmental colloquium talks in each of these semesters. You must also make a presentation either at an external conference or at the local HPSC graduate student conference.

There is no set length for qualifying papers, but something in the range of 30-35 pages is probably the norm. The paper should be a substantive piece of work that demonstrates you have the skills needed for dissertation research. In most circumstances one reader will be your advisor, and you will select two other readers in consultation with your advisor. You should have at least one history reader and one philosophy reader.

In addition to the committee approval, the paper should be discussed in a public meeting of the department with commentary by another graduate student chosen in consultation with your advisor or the director of graduate studies. This public presentation will normally (but not necessarily) take place before the committee’s approval is sought. Once all signatures have been obtained and the appropriate form is submitted to the director of graduate studies, the paper is submitted to the full faculty at the next departmental meeting. See section 9.7 of the Guide to Graduate Studies for full details.

The oral defense typically takes one hour. There will be a commentator, selected by the advisor and the director of graduate studies in consultation with the candidate. The candidate does not give a presentation.

The formal part of the defense opens with an analysis and a few questions about the paper, offered by the commentator (no longer than 10 minutes), and brief responses by the candidate to the analysis and the questions (also approximately 10 minutes). The candidate may be shown the questions in advance, but the choice and content of questions is entirely up to the commentator. The major portion of the defense is a general question and answer promoting informal discussion of the paper.

The defense is not an exam. The aim of the analysis and the general discussion is to provide feedback and suggestions for the revision of the qualifying paper.

Yes, but with limitations, including the following:

  • Credit hours cannot be transferred if they were already applied toward a degree at the same level. In other words, courses already used for a masters degree at another institution cannot be counted towards an IU masters degree, but they may be counted towards a Ph.D. at IU (though not if previously counted towards a Ph.D. from the other institution).
  • No course may be transferred from another institution unless the grade is B or higher.
  • Each transfer request will be assessed on its own merits, but HPS students are generally discouraged from requesting exemptions from the core courses. Normally the Department will accept no more than four graduate seminars' worth (12–16 credit hours) of transfer credit. If you wish to transfer credit from another university, you must submit a memo to the director of graduate studies petitioning for the credit to be accepted as part of your degree plan, and supplying the following information:
    • A list of courses you wish to transfer, and any available documentation of the content of each course, such as a syllabus, exams, and papers.
    • For any courses that are not in HPS, Philosophy of Science, or History Science, you should obtain a memo from your advisor approving the use of these courses in your degree plan.

Please send an email to hpscdept@indiana.edu or contact us.