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Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.; occasionally B.Ph. or Ph.B.) 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 many universities – for example, the University of Oxford – a graduate degree.

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University of Oxford

The B.Phil.'s earliest form is as a University of Oxford graduate degree. 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 three taught courses and a research thesis (max. 30,000 words). The taught courses are all examined by essays chosen from prescribed lists; candidates submit two essays for each course, or six essays in total (max. 30,000 words), in addition to their theses. The B.Phil. is regarded as a very demanding degree, and it is not suitable for those with no academic background in philosophy.

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.

Other universities

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 has 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 research-based or involves a considerable amount of independent study. For example, at Pennsylvania State University, the highly selective B.Phil. program enables students to plan their own academic programs in conjunction with a faculty preceptor. At Miami University's School of Interdisciplinary Studies, also known as the Western College Program, B.Phil candidates participate in a residential program, work with faculty to design individualized majors, and produce a thesis; the university's Board of Trustees in 2007 stripped the school of its division status, and participating students beginning in 2009 will matriculate in a new Western program within the College of Arts and Sciences and receive a traditional B.A. or B.S. At the undergraduate Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh, B.Phil. candidates must pass oral examinations of a senior thesis. The University of Birmingham offers the B.Phil. as a taught, research-based undergraduate degree in the fields of Education and Counselling.

St. John's Seminary (Massachusetts) offers the B.Phil. degree upon completion of its two-year Pre-Theologate program. This program is only available to men studying for the Roman Catholic Priesthood.

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 (Ph.B.) is an individually tailored, research-based undergraduate degree in arts, Asian studies, or the sciences. Students undertake supervised research courses each semester with researching academics, often on a one-to-one basis. Admission is open to the top 1% of school-leavers (TER 99.00 or greater). Many admitted students receive the Bachelor of Philosophy scholarship. The duration of the program is four years, including an honours year where a research-thesis is undertaken.

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