I was wondering if there still exist universities (in the US or in Europe) where one can obtain a PhD in Philosophy by only presenting an original and well-developed work around a subject or an author.


A lot is hidden in the word presenting in your question.

If by presenting, you mean that you just show it to them, they say "wow" and they give you a degree, then I severely doubt any such institution exists.

If by presenting, you mean that you apply to a university that allows degree by prior work and show them that you've published papers of sufficient quality in reputable journals and presses, then yes.

To back this up, look at for instance, Kent, Glasgow, Bradford. It's not that you've got something original you did, it's that you've published enough. At the same time, note that in principle publishing in a journal does not require an advanced degree or institutional affiliation. When full double-blind refereeing is used, no one would even know.

(The same system is also used at times in Japan where it is called ronpaku)


Yes. Many UK Universities have it in their regulations to permit the award of a degree by prior publication.

However, that does not mean you can just submit your publication and expect to receive a doctorate! The regulations permit the university to recognise someone, usually already associated with the institution, who has made some publication of academic merit made by a non-academic that has received some form of public praise to be rewarded and recognised by the university for their work. This is distinct from a degree honoris causa which may be awarded to honour the person who has done some deed that is not a publication of equivalent worth to a thesis.

An example, of my personal knowledge, is someone who spent their life studying local flora and published a significant catalogue of plants as an amature botanist. The academic nature of the work was recognised by the University with the award of a Phd by prior publication. I have also known it happen to a local playwright for a lifes work.

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