PhD Regulations

The following document contains the regulations specific to the doctoral program at the Philosophy Department of the Central European University, including applications of the university student policies. Students should also be familiar with the CEU Doctoral Regulations, which contain additional information on Statement of Responsibility, Extensions, Temporary Withdrawal and more. In case of disagreement between the departmental and university regulations, the university regulations will be followed.

Where to find information?

If you have questions about some aspect of the program, it is worth checking out this document and the relevant university regulations, which are available here:

If you still have questions, the following people may be able to help:

Kriszta Biber

Departmental Coordinator


Mike Griffin

PhD Director


Tim Crane

Head of Department


The Structure of the Program

Probationary Period

In their first year, between the date of enrolment and the successful passing of the Comprehensive Examination, doctoral students have the status of Probationary Doctoral Candidates. Probationary doctoral candidates have to reside in Budapest or Vienna for the duration of the academic year, participate in the life of the department and earn the required number of credits.

First year coursework

By the end of the first year, probationary doctoral candidates have to complete 8 course credits by attending courses offered by the Philosophy Department or courses cross-listed with the Philosophy Department.  Doctoral students are as a rule not allowed to take Core MA courses for credit or audit, although they may of course attend such courses in case the courses interest them.

In addition, probationary doctoral candidates have to attend regularly the Departmental Colloquium. This is worth 2 credits per academic year for a Pass/Fail qualification. Presence is required for at least 70% of the meetings.

Coursework policy (valid for all students)

Final essays for the Fall Term courses are usually to be submitted by the first Monday of the Winter Term, by midnight (the date is specified every year in the Academic Calendar). An essay submitted up to one week after this deadline gets minus one grade penalty (e.g. A-, instead of A; or B instead of B+); an essay submitted between one to two weeks after the deadline gets minus two grades penalty. Essays cannot be submitted later than two weeks after the deadline.

The deadline for submitting coursework for the Winter Term and its late submission deadlines are specified each year in the Academic Calendar.

The final essays should be sent to the departmental coordinator and to the course instructor(s). The time of the submission, which determines the status of the essay with respect to penalties, is recorded by the departmental coordinator upon the receipt of the essay. Any extension to the deadlines or exemption from the penalties should be sought with the Doctoral Committee and not with the course instructor. Requests for extension should be submitted before the deadlines.

First year work with an advisor

The departmental doctoral committee assigns every probationary doctoral candidate an advisor. Students should be in regular contact with their advisors. The task of the advisor is to help the student to focus their problem choice, draw up a plan for the dissertation and start research leading to the preparation of the dissertation. Candidates are asked to make sure that the advisor reads a final draft of their thesis plan before they submit it. The advisor should also be consulted for the writing of the First Year Paper.

First Year Paper

During their first year, probationary doctoral candidates are required to write a paper of approximately 10,000 words (but no longer than 12,000 words and no shorter than 8,000 words). The topic of the paper should be relevant to their dissertation; it can also be a draft of a chapter of the dissertation. The deadline for submitting the title and topic of the First Year Paper is specified in the Academic Calendar. Students can be asked questions concerning their First Year Paper as part of the Comprehensive Examination. The paper is graded following the Comprehensive Examination and earns 4 credits

Summary of credits to be earned in the first year

Departmental Colloquium

2 credits


8 credits

First Year Paper

4 credits


14 credits

The Grade Point Average (GPA) is calculated from the grades received for the coursework. Students whose courses GPA is 3.00 (i.e. B) or higher go to the Comprehensive Examination. Students with less than 3.00 course GPA cannot go to the Comprehensive Examination, and their student status will be terminated.

Thesis Plan

In order to qualify for the Comprehensive Examination, probationary doctoral candidates have to submit a Thesis Plan by the deadline specified in the Academic Calendar. The Thesis Plan should be 2-3 pages long (without the bibliography), and it should be a summary of the research planned for the doctoral dissertation. It should include a description of the problem or area the candidate is planning to investigate; the planned direction of the research; and what is hoped to be the novel contribution made by the dissertation. In the Comprehensive Examination, students give a ten-minute presentation of their Thesis Plan and are asked questions on it.

Comprehensive Examination

Probationary doctoral candidates who completed their 8-credit coursework, submitted their First Year Paper and their Thesis Plan, and have a 3.00 or higher GPA for their courses, can take the Comprehensive Examination. In the examination, students give a ten-minute presentation of their Thesis Plan and answer questions on their Thesis Plan and First Year Paper.

In order to proceed to the second year, the average grade formed from the GPA obtained in the courses, the First Year Paper and the grade obtained at the Comprehensive Examination (calculated as 4-credits worth) must be at least 3.3.

Candidacy Period

Doctoral students who proceed to the second year have the status of Doctoral Candidates. While receiving stipend, doctoral candidates shall reside in Budapest or Vienna and attend the University on a regular basis. Doctoral candidates shall participate in the academic life of the department and attend seminars, programs and lectures. With the prior permission of the Doctoral Committee, a doctoral candidate may spend specified periods during the doctoral candidacy period out of residence in Budapest or Vienna. The permission can be given for maximum one year at a time. It is the responsibility of the Candidate to provide adequate contact information for the absence period.

During their second and third year students will primarily be engaged in independent research under the guidance of their supervisor. Students can submit their dissertation at the end of the third year of their studies and not later than six years after the date of their original enrolment.


Every doctoral candidate has a supervisor. The Doctoral Committee assigns supervisors to candidates, based on their research topic and faculty availability, and with an effort to accommodate the candidate’s own request of who should serve as their supervisor. The assignment of supervisors is approved by the University Doctoral Committee. The supervisor is normally a member of the Philosophy Department’s faculty; in exceptional cases the supervisor may be a member of a different CEU department, but in that case an internal associate supervisor is needed.

The supervisor supervises the work of the candidate according to the directions specified in the university doctoral regulations, and prepares a report about the candidate’s progress at the end of each academic year. In exceptional cases, the Doctoral Committee may appoint an associate supervisor if the nature of the studied field requires doing so. The duties of the associate supervisor are the same as those of a regular supervisor, according to the university regulations. The associate supervisor position counts as a regular supervision when calculating the maximum number of doctoral students a faculty member may supervise.

Candidates may request in writing a change of their supervisor or associate supervisor (substantiating such a request). The Doctoral Committee is required to address the request within 15 days and forward its decision on any change in the supervisor’s status to the University Doctoral Committee for approval. Under special circumstances, the Doctoral Committee can also propose a change in supervisor to the University Doctoral Committee.

Second and third year coursework

In the second and third years, attendance at the Departmental Colloquium is required throughout the academic year. This is a Pass/Fail course and is worth 2 credits per academic year.

In the second and third years, students are required to attend the doctoral Work-in-progress Seminar (attendance is required in at least 70% of the meetings). This is a Pass/Fail course and it is worth 4 credits per academic year. The aim of the Work-in-progress Seminar is to provide a forum for doctoral candidates to acquire professional skills and receive continuous feedback on their work. The seminars will consist of discussions of recent literature in the area of the candidates’ research and presentations of the candidates’ work in progress.

In addition to the credits earned by attending the Departmental Colloquium and the Doctoral Seminar, Doctoral Candidates have to audit 8 credits in philosophy or cross-listed courses in their second year, and 4 credits in philosophy or cross-listed courses in their third year.

In addition to these requirements, students must act as a teaching assistant at least once in their second or third year.

Summary of credits to be earned in the second and third year

Departmental Colloquium

4 credits

Work-in-progress Seminar

8 credits

Teaching Assistantship

2 credits

(Audited courses worth 12 credits, but no credit earned)
(Second and Third year papers, see Thesis Progress)


14 credits

In-house Doctoral Conference

All students who completed one year in the program are asked to present their work at the In-house Doctoral Conference, which takes place at the beginning of the Fall Term. Announcement of the conference and details are sent out every year.

Progress report

Starting in their second year, every doctoral candidate has to submit a progress report by August 30. In this report, they are asked to summarise

  • the progress they made with their dissertation
  • the courses they attended (if applicable)
  • presentations they made (if applicable)
  • publications (if applicable)
  • any other academic activity

The reports should be sent to the departmental coordinator and to the supervisor.

Regular supervision

In order to help candidates to organise their time efficiently and make sufficient progress with their dissertation work, they are asked to be in contact with their supervisor at least once a month during term time. For students in residence, this should take the form of a meeting (if the supervisor is away, the contact can be through email). For students with permission to be away, it can be done through email. Candidates are asked to initiate communication to make sure that the monthly contact takes place. The communication should relate to some appropriate aspect of the dissertation work; for example, sending some written material, answering comments, updating research plans, reporting progress, describing readings or other activities, etc.

Starting with October and finishing with June, candidates are asked to report through email by the end of each month to the departmental coordinator whether the contact took place in the month before that. The message should contain a date and a few words describing the nature of the contact (e.g.: “16th of February, sent a draft of chapter 3”; “22nd April, discussed Wittgenstein’s private-sensation language argument with supervisor”). For easier handling, candidates are kindly asked to put in the subject heading of the email “[name of the month] contact with supervisor”; e.g. “April contact with supervisor”.

Exemption from this rule can be given upon request to students who are spending time in another institution and their work is supervised by someone else. Students who temporarily withdraw from the program are exempt from this rule.

Candidates who fail to comply with this regulation might have their stipend stopped (if applicable), and/or, after due warning and consultation with their supervisor, the Doctoral Committee may consider suggesting to terminate their student status.

Thesis progress

By August 30 of the second year, students are expected to submit 15,000 words of written work (the second year paper), which approaches dissertation quality. By August 30 of the third year of their studies, an additional 25,000 words work should be submitted (the third year paper).

In case a student fails to meet these requirements, the Doctoral Committee consults the supervisor(s) and the student about the prospects of meeting these requirements. If a realistic plan of improvement is drawn up, the Committee can give a maximum of six months extension of the deadline. If either there is no realistic prospect for improvement in the Committee’s judgment, or the student fails to meet the extended deadline, the Doctoral Committee may consider suggesting the termination of the Candidate’s student status.


Length and format

(See the University Doctoral Regulations for additional information.)

The doctoral thesis is an academic dissertation which meets the conditions of the general standards of the university, and which is supposed either to provide an original contribution to the deeper understanding of one or more philosophical problems, or a defensible attempt to solve it/them.

The CEU doctoral dissertation shall not exceed 80,000 words (including tables, graphs and footnotes; excluding bibliography) without prior permission of the Doctoral Committee. The submitted dissertation shall include:

  • title page including the authors name, date of submission, supervisor’s name
  • table of contents
  • abstract of maximum 500 words
  • signed statement that the dissertation contains no materials accepted for any other degrees in any other institutions
  • signed statement that the dissertation contains no materials previously written and/or published by another person, except where appropriate acknowledgment is made in the form of bibliographical reference, etc.
  • where the work is based on joint research, disclosure of the respective contribution of the authors

Following the approval of the supervisor, the dissertation can be submitted. An electronic copy of the dissertation shall be sent to the departmental coordinator, who forwards it to the Doctoral Committee. An electronic copy shall also be uploaded by the student to the CEU electronic thesis database (ETD). The student should consult the departmental coordinator about the submission of printed copies. After the dissertation is approved by the Dissertation Committee and the required modifications, if any, are introduced, a printed, bound copy shall be submitted to the CEU library, and a revised electronic version shall be uploaded to the ETD. (The University Doctoral Regulations specify the procedure for requesting temporary exemption from the requirement of uploading the dissertation to the ETD.)

See also the CEU Library site on ETD,

Dissertation Committee

Upon the submission of a dissertation, the Doctoral Committee initiates the examination procedure within reasonable time. The Doctoral Committee chooses at least two examiners for the dissertation, at least one of whom must be external to CEU. When submitting their dissertation for defence, the students attach a signed “Statement of objection”, in which they have an opportunity to name individuals whom they do not wish appointed as examiners of the dissertation. The Candidate should give precise reasons for doing so. If the Doctoral Candidate has no such objections, this should be indicated on the form. If the Doctoral Committee does not take the relevant suggestions into account, the candidate may appeal against the decision to the University Doctoral Committee.

The examiners are asked to provide a written report of the dissertation within two months (during term time) of their appointment. Each examiner is asked to indicate in writing whether the dissertation can be submitted for defence. When writing their report, the examiners may wish to take into consideration whether:

  • the dissertation makes a significant contribution to the knowledge and to the understanding of the subject with which it deals
  • the dissertation demonstrates the candidates’ capacity to carry out quality independent research
  • the dissertation contains material worthy for publication
  • knowledge of the state of the art in the specific subject is demonstrated
  • the format and literary presentation are satisfactory

In case one of the reports is negative, a further examiner shall be appointed. In case the majority of the reports is negative, the dissertation is regarded as effectively failed, and the student status of the Candidate is terminated without the possibility of resubmission.

the Dissertation Committee has at least three voting members, and at least one third of the voting members must be external to CEU. Usually it consists of the two examiners, the supervisor, and another member who chairs the committee. The members of the Dissertation Committee are appointed by the University Doctoral Committee based on the recommendation of the Departmental Doctoral Committee.


The defence should take place within three months of the receipt of a sufficient number of positive examiner reports. The Candidate receives the reports in advance and prepares a response for the oral defence. The usual procedure of the defence is as follows:

  1. The Chair introduces the members of the Dissertation Committee (DC).
  2. The candidate gives a 15 minute presentation of the dissertation.
  3. Chair of the DC opens the examination by asking members of the DC to raise questions or comments about the dissertation
  4. The Chair invites anyone else who is present to raise questions or make comments.
  5. The Chair announces that the DC is going to retire for adjudication.
  6. The Chair announces the decision of the DC.

The DC has to decide by simple majority vote between four options:

  1. candidate be awarded the degree without further modification in the dissertation
  2. candidate be awarded the degree subject to some modifications in the dissertation
  3. candidate not yet be awarded the degree but permitted to resubmit the dissertation in a revised form
  4. candidate not be awarded the degree

In case 2) is chosen, the DC has to decide which members of the DC will check whether the appropriate modifications are carried out (this may include all members of the DC.) In this case, no further examination is needed. The deadline for submitting the modified dissertation has to be given by the DC. The candidate should then be provided with a list of the required corrections as soon as possible, but at the latest, within two weeks of the defence.

In case 3) is chosen, it is at the discretion of the DC to give further guidance (i.e. other than that provided in the examiners’ reports and during the oral defence) for improvement of the dissertation. If 3) is chosen, another examination is organised upon resubmission. Resubmission of the dissertation should take place within 2 years of the first defence.

The decisions regarding the dissertation are based on the majority voting principle. Usually the two examiners and the supervisor vote but not the chair. If the members of the Dissertation Committee cannot reach a majority decision, the Doctoral Committee shall appoint two additional Dissertation Committee members within 15 days. The enlarged Dissertation Committee shall decide by way of a simple majority of its members, without conducting another oral defence.

Minor formal corrections suggested by the examiners need not be expressly stipulated.