Bachelor of Philosophy
Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil., B.Ph., Ph.B. or PhB) is the title of an academic degree. The degree usually involves considerable research, either through a thesis or supervised research projects. Despite its name it is, in most universities, a postgraduate degree.
University of Oxford
The B.Phil.'s earliest form is as a University of Oxford graduate degree, first awarded in 1682. Originally, Oxford named its pre-doctoral graduate degrees the Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) (a two-year degree, partly taught and partly by research) and the Bachelor of Letters (B.Litt.) (a two-year research degree). After complaints, especially from overseas students, that this naming convention often meant that graduate degrees were not being recognised as such, the University renamed them Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) and Master of Letters (M.Litt.). However, the Philosophy Faculty (then a Sub-Faculty) argued that its B.Phil. degree had become so well known and respected in the philosophical world that it would be confusing to change the name. In philosophy, therefore, the degree continues to be called the B.Phil. Those who pass the degree are given the choice of taking a B.Phil. or an M.Phil.; few if any choose the latter. (Note that Oxford also offers a number of other graduate degrees labeled as baccalaureate degrees: the law faculty's BCL; the music faculty's B.Mus; and the theology faculty's B.D.)
Today's Oxford B.Phil. course is a two-year programme of seminars, six essays (of up to 5000 words each) and a research thesis (max. 30,000 words). The B.Phil. is regarded as a very demanding degree, and an academic background in philosophy is a prerequisite for admission.
The Oxford B.Phil. was designed to be a preparation for teaching philosophy at university level. Today it often also provides a foundation for doctoral (D.Phil. or Ph.D.) work in philosophy. Notable graduates of the B.Phil. include: Daniel Dennett, Peter Singer, George Boolos, Thomas Nagel, Gerald Cohen, Patricia Churchland, J. J. C. Smart and Galen Strawson.
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Several universities have adopted the Oxford model of the B.Phil. as a graduate degree, either as originally intended (in a variety of academic subjects) or as it subsequently developed (in philosophy only); for example, Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram and Newcastle University.
At other universities, the term "Bachelor of Philosophy" refers to an undergraduate bachelor's degree. Frequently, the degree is either research-based or involves additional academic components, (e.g. independent study, interdisciplinary study, foreign language requirements, etc.) For example, at Pennsylvania State University, the B.Phil. program enables students to plan their own academic programs in conjunction with a faculty preceptor. At Miami University's Western College Program, B.Phil. candidates participate in a residential program, worked with faculty to design individualized majors, and produce a thesis. At the undergraduate Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh, B.Phil. candidates must pass oral examinations of a senior thesis. Northwestern University's B.Phil. degree requires two years of a foreign language. The University of Birmingham offers the B.Phil. as a taught, research-based undergraduate degree in the fields of Education and Counselling. The University of New Brunswick offers the B.Phil. as a seminar-based degree in interdisciplinary leadership. St. John's Seminary (Massachusetts) offers the B.Phil. degree upon completion of its two-year Pre-Theologate program, (for men studying for the Roman Catholic Priesthood.) The Technical University of Kenya offers the B.Phil. to those with Higher Diplomas in various subjects. Stellenbosch University offers a B.Phil. in journalism. Prospective students must have obtained a recognised undergraduate degree in any discipline and sat for the department's entrance examination, which is written across South Africa. Top-performing applicants are then invited to interview for final selection. The B.Phil. is regarded as one of the most sought after and demanding postgraduate offerings at the University.
In 1948 the University of Chicago offered a Ph.B. which differed from the B.A. in that it required two fewer non-required courses. The degree was offered by the College as part of the Hutchins program that allowed students to matriculate after two years of high school.
Australian National University
The Bachelor of Philosophy (PhB) is an individually tailored, research-based undergraduate degree in arts/social sciences or the natural sciences. Students undertake supervised research courses, entitled Advanced Studies Courses, each semester with researching academics, often on a one-to-one basis. Admission is open to the top 1% of school-leavers (ATAR 99.00 or greater). The duration of the program is four years, including an honours year, where a research thesis is undertaken. In order to graduate with the degree, students are required to maintain a High Distinction average (80 per cent and above) across all courses in each semester of the degree and must complete the honours year with First Class Honours.
University of Western Australia
The University of Western Australia also offers the Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) course for high-achieving new students. This is a research intensive degree which takes four years instead of the usual three for the other bachelor's degrees. Students studying the course choose disciplines from any of the four bachelor's degrees. Places are very limited with on average only about 30 places offered to students each year. Thus there is a lot of competition for places and the cut-off admission rank is very high.
University of Tasmania
The Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) is an intellectually challenging, high impact award that provides academic extension, personal development, and recognition for experiences outside the traditional degree structure, and it is available to students who are undertaking, or have undertaken, another undergraduate degree. Enrolment in the degree is limited to high achieving students who are deemed to be capable of successfully completing additional study alongside their principal degree. The B.Phil. is not offered as a standalone degree at UTAS and can only be completed concurrent with, or after completion of a principal undergraduate degree and entrants must have an ATAR above 90 or a current GPA above 5.5.
- University of Pittsburgh Honors College
- Oxford University Graduate Studies Prospectus: Philosophy
- Pennsylvania State University
- Northwestern University
- Australian National University
- Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram
- University of Newcastle upon Tyne
- University of Birmingham
- University of New Brunswick
- Stellenbosch University