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Ashoka Scholars Programme in Philosophy

Ashoka University offers a year-long Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Studies and Research (DipASR) to students who have completed the three-year Bachelor’s Programme, during which students can take a wide range of elective options across a variety of subjects, as well as gain valuable research experience in specific disciplines. Students must complete 32 credits to graduate from the ASP and may choose to complete an advanced major in a particular discipline or may choose to study subjects across disciplines.

  • General Information about the Advanced Major

    The Advanced Major in Philosophy can only be earned in the context of the Ashoka Scholars Programme (ASP). The purpose of the Advanced Major is to enable students with a strong interest in Philosophy to add to their undergraduate experience and explore more subtle and difficult aspects through advanced courses at the 3000 and the 4000 level. This is an excellent preparation for those who want to move on to pursue further studies in graduate school (a M.A. or a Ph.D). If you want to read about some Ashoka graduates who succeeded in doing exactly that, see here.

    However, an Advanced Major in Philosophy is not just for the academically inclined. It is also for those who are simply driven by intellectual curiosity and who want to continue their rigorous training and increase their exposure to Philosophy before they move on to do other things such as consulting, journalism, or being an analyst, say.

    Standardly, an¬†Advanced Major in Philosophy¬†would be pursued by students who have already¬† completed a¬†Philosophy Major. That said, it is also possible to expand a¬†Minor in Philosophy¬†to an¬†Advanced Major Equivalent in Philosophy, by completing the remaining¬†10 Philosophy courses during their ASP This will be a rare occasion, so we did not create a separate page for it – but it is possible. In¬†fact, if one made use of the summer semester beween graduation from one’s undergraduate studies and the beginning of the ASP Monsoon semester, and given the righth course offerings, one could even expand to a¬†Advanced Major Equivalent in Philosophy¬†starting from a¬†Concentration in Philosophy.¬†(As you can see, we like to consider all possibilities, however far-fetched.)

  • Advanced Major Requirements

    To complete an Advanced Major in Philosophy, students must complete the equivalent of 16 courses (=96 credits) in Philosophy. These comprise (a) the credits earned by meeting the requirements of the Philosophy Major and (b) 16 additional credits, which will be earned in part by completing a mandatory Capstone Thesis.    

    (a) The 12 courses students must take to complete a Philosophy Major must include

    • the two¬†Required Courses,¬†i.e.¬†
      • PHI-1000 Intro to Philosophy¬†and¬†
      • PHI-1060 Symbolic Logic
    • two courses from the¬†Indian & Non-Western Philosophy¬†category, such as e.g.
      • PHI-2370 Intro to Indian Philosophy,
      • PHI-3401 Indian Philosophy Through the Eyes of Bimal Matilal,¬†or
      • any courses listed as belonging to this category¬†
    • two courses from the¬†History of Western Philosophy¬†category, such as e.g.¬†
      • PHI-2420 Intro to Ancient Philosophy,
      • PHI-3530 19th Century Philosophy, or¬†
      • any courses listed as belonging to this category¬†
    • three courses from the¬†Contemporary Core¬†category, such as e.g.
      • PHI-2000 Metaphysics,
      • PHI-2240 Philosophy of Science,
      • PHI-2600 Normative Ethics,
      • PHI-2610 How to be Free and Happy,
      • PHI-3665 Ethics and Technology,¬†
      • any courses listed as belonging to this category¬†
    • three¬†Electives¬†

    (b) Of the 16 additional credits students need to complete the Advanced Major in Philosophy

    1. 8 credits may come from completing a Capstone Thesis [strongly recommended for those who are considering graduate school, as this thesis can be turned into a writing sample]
    2. 8 credits will come from taking Electives (typically 3000/4000 level).

    Note that up to 4 credits overall (i.e. credits earned during the undergraduate studies and during the ASP) can come from serving as Teaching Assistant (for 2 credits per course). These credits count towards the Elective category. 

  • Two Sample Curricula

    What students can do along with their Advanced Major depends on what they have done during their undergraduate studies. Below are two instructive examples that provide a sense of the flexibility that the ASP year brings even if one completes an Advanced Major in Philosophy.

    Case 1: Advanced Major and Minor

    The following is the case of Charmi. Charmi completed a¬†Philosophy Major during her undergraduate studies (Case 1 on the Philosophy Major website). Charmi has done really well during her undergraduate studies, has written a number of papers in areas that she wants to pursue further, and is now toying with the idea of applying for grad school in Philosophy. She has found an advisor from the Philosophy Department who is willing to work with her and even an external advisor who works on her topic of interest. Charmi’s plan is to use her¬†Capstone Thesis¬†as the basis for her writing sample that will be part of her grad school application.¬†Since Charmi’s area of interest is Political Philosophy, she also wants to complement her¬†Advanced Major in Philosophy¬†with a¬†Minor in Political Science. We are assuming that she has already taken one course in Political Science during her undergraduate studies. Accordingly, she needs to complete the 16 credits for her¬†Advanced Major in Philosophy¬†and 5 courses (i.e. 20 credits) to complete her¬†Minor in Political Science.¬†See below what her curriculum might look like.¬†¬†

    Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4 Semester 5 Semester 6 Semester 7 (=ASP 1) Semester 8 (=ASP 2)
    Introduction to Critical Thinking (=Foundation Course 1) Foundation Course 5 Foundation Course 7 Foundation Course 9 Philosophy Course 7 Philosophy Course 10 Philosophy Course 13 (=Capstone Research Seminar) Philosophy Course 15 (=Capstone Thesis Seminar)
    Foundation Course 2 Foundation Course 6 Foundation Course 8 Philosophy Course 4 Philosophy Course 8 Philosophy Course 11 Philosophy Course 14 Political Science Course 5
    Foundation Course 3 Philosophy Course 1: Introduction to Philosophy Philosophy Course 2: Symbolic Logic Philosophy Course 5 Philosophy Course 9 Philosophy Course 12 Political Science Course 2 Political Science Course 6
    Foundation Course 4 Gateway course to another Major  Philosophy Course 3 Philosophy Course 6 Elective Political Science Course 1 Political Science Course 3 Elective
    XXXXXXXXXXX Co-Curricular Course 1 Co-Curricular Course 2 Political Science Course 4
    Case 2: Advanced Major ad Second Major Equivalent

    During his undergraduate studies, Rajesh completed his Philosophy Major and a Minor in Psychology. Rajesh has developed a keen interest in Moral Psychology and can imagine working on a grad school application, but during the summer after his second year, he has also done an internship in an ad company that he found very rewarding and can also imagine to transition into coaching. He wants to use the ASP to work on a larger academic project to see whether that is something he enjoys doing and also keep his options open both within Philosophy and Psychology. He decides to purue an Advanced Major in Philosophy and a Second Major Equivalent in Psychology. Rajesh has taken one summer semester and two FCs (here: FCs 8 and 9). Below is his curriculum.

    Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4 Semester 5 Semester 6 Semester 7 (=ASP 1) Semester 8 (=ASP 2)
    Introduction to Critical Thinking (=Foundation Course 1) Foundation Course 5 Philosophy Course 2: Symbolic Logic Philosophy Course 7 Philosophy Course 10 Philosophy Course 12 Philosophy Course 15 (=Capstone Research Seminar) Philosophy Course 16 (=Capstone Thesis Seminar)
    Foundation Course 2 Foundation Course 6 Philosophy Course 3 Philosophy Course 8 Philosophy Course 11 Philosophy Course 13 Psychology Course 7 Psychology Course 10
    Foundation Course 3 Philosophy Course 1: Introduction to Philosophy Philosophy Course 4 Philosophy Course 9 Psychology Course 4: Statistics and Research Methodology (II) Philosophy Course 14 Psychology Course 8 Psychology Course 11
    Foundation Course 4 Gateway course to Psychology  Philosophy Course 5 Psychology Course 2: Statistics and Research Methodology (I) Psychology Course 5 Psychology Course 6 Psychology Course 9 Psychology Course 12
    XXXXXXXXXXX Foundation Course 7 Philosophy Course 6 Psychology Course 3 Psychology Course 5 Psychology Course 10
    Co-Curricular Course 1 Co-Curricular Course 2

    As usual, there is a caveat: Whether or not the relevant Psychology courses are available so as to make this curriculum possible is something the Philosophy Department cannot guarantee (perhaps things would have worked better had Rajesh taken a Psychology course or two in semester 3). Students with ambitious plans like this one should seek assistance from their Mentor and Advisor or get in touch with the relevant departments, faculty, OAA, and student representatives to ensure that they know what they need to take and when they should best take it.

  • General Information about the Capstone Thesis

    The¬†Philosophy¬†Capstone Thesis¬†is often a part of the¬†Advanced Major in Philosophy, but it can also be pursued independently of the Advances Major during the¬†Ashoka Scholars Programme¬†(ASP) ‚Äď provided a suitable (set of) advisor(s) is found.

    To work on a¬†Philosophy Capstone Thesis¬†is to dedicate one full academic year to a topic of one’s choice and work on a paper on this topic is the length of a standard journal article (15-20 pages) and of publishable quality.¬†

    Working on a paper like this comes with its intrinsic rewards. Overseeing a project from the initial research to the end is a worthwhile challenge, experiencing oneself as able to muster the persistence and the continuous effort required to see through successfully an academic and intellectual project of such proportions can be formative and useful regardless of whether or not one intends to pursue further academic studies. The ability to carry out long-term projects is a highly transferable skill. 

    That said, since pursuing further studies typically involves a series of further projects of this kind, working on a Philosophy Capstone Thesis can be an important experience that may help one decide whether or not staying in academia for at least bit longer is what one can see oneself as doing. 

    If you want to read some testimonials about the Philosophy Capstone Thesis, watch the video below.

  • Requirements

    The following are requirements in the sense of what is required for you to start on the Philosophy Capstone Thesis:           

    • the¬†Philosophy Capstone Thesis¬†can only be pursued during the ASP;
    • you need a philosophical topic that you are interested in enough that you can imagine working on it for up to a full year;
    • you need to find an¬†advisor¬†from the Ashoka Philosophy Department who is willing to support you through this project – choose someone who works in the area you want to work in, whom you like and respect, who will be available and willing to give you (tough) feedback (if needed), and from whom you can take such feedback;
    • you may list up to¬†two advisors¬†– which can be especially interesting in case you want to work on a thesis that has an interdisciplinary flavor. Not required, but an interesting option is to add a second advisor from outside of Ashoka. If pursuing further studies is something you are considering, having outside academic support (and a potential letter writer) could prove valuable;
    • you must¬†register¬†for the ASP (the deadline is typically mid-June) for the¬†Philosophy Capstone Thesis¬†(see procedure below).

    The following are requirements in the sense of what is required for you to successfully complete the Philosophy Capstone Thesis:

    • You must successfully complete both
      • the departmental¬†Capstone Research Seminar¬†that meets in the Monsoon semester and culminates in the creation of
        • a¬†prospectus document¬†(5-10 pages) and
        • an¬†annotated bibliography, by the end of the Monsoon semester¬†(or as per the departmental deadline),¬†
      • the supervised¬†Capstone Thesis Seminar,¬†which basically functions like an ISM (4 credits) in the Spring and culminates in the public defense of your¬†Philosophy Capstone Thesis¬†and the subsequent submission of the thesis.
    • You must¬†submit a defense draft¬†of your thesis to your advisor(s) at least one week prior to the scheduled defense date (or as per the departmental deadline), and submit a revised draft (if required) after the defense, by a date determined by the department.
    • You must¬†arrange a defense date¬†that works for your advisors¬†and¬†adhere to all deadlines¬†related to the¬†Philosophy Capstone Thesis.
    • You must¬†defend your¬†thesis¬†orally¬†before the end of the Spring semester.
      • These defenses are open for Ashoka students to attend and must be attended (in person or, if necessary, via Skype) by the advisor(s).
      • At least¬†two Ashoka Philosophy faculty members must be present.

    Note that the¬†Capstone Thesis¬†can be used to complete a¬†Second Major Equivalent¬†or a¬†Minor in Philosophy, or may be done (though this will happen very rarely) to complete a¬†Concentration¬†or completely independently. In such cases, the¬†Capstone Thesis Seminar¬†yields 4 credits towards the student’s credential or general ASP credits¬†and the¬†Capstone Research Seminar¬†should be¬†audited, for no credits. This ensures that aspiring Philosophy Minors, Majors, and those pursuing a Concentration get sufficient exposure to Philosophy and philosophical instruction – exposure which due to its specific focus on general methodological and logistical issues, the¬†Capstone Research Seminar¬†does not provide.¬†

  • Application Procedure

    • First off,¬†start¬†thinking about this¬†early.
    • If you want to work on a¬†Philosophy Capstone Thesis, you need an advisor. Ideally, you¬†find your advisor¬†near the beginning of the final term of your graduating year.
    • Talk to your prospective advisor¬†them about what you want to work on. They will have ideas and advice.
    • Follow their advice¬†– especially when they say: “You need to do less!” This is always good advice!
    • If you want an¬†external advisor, too, you will need to have a¬†sense of what you want to work on, for only with a rough project outline will you be able to get them interested.
    • Around mid-March, the Office of Acadmic Affairs (OAA) will inform you that the¬†ASP registration form¬†will open – fill it first and¬†list the Capstone.
    • Fill the¬†ASP Capstone Registration form¬†and ask your advisors to approve it.¬†
    • Once you have the approvals in place,¬†ask your advisors for things that you should read¬†over the summer.¬†Start reading enthusiastically, don’t forget to take notes¬†and begin to work on an annotated bibliography!
    • Consider taking relevant courses during the¬†summer semester. The credits you earn¬†will count towards your ASP (or the completion of your undergraduate degree, whatever applies).

More About Ashoka Scholars' Programme

All undergraduates graduating with Bachelor’s Degrees at the end of their third year, or who have completed by that time at least academic 92 credits of their degree programme, are eligible for admission into the Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Studies and Research programme, also known as the Ashoka Scholars Programme (ASP). Students who need to complete up to 8 credits of their undergraduate degree must do so within the first semester of the ASP. All students who fall into either of these categories must formally apply for admission to the ASP towards the end of the Spring semester of their third year. The exact date will be circulated by the OAA.


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