MA in Philosophy

General

Program Description

The Department of Philosophy faculty members have strengths in political and social philosophy (including feminism and philosophy of race); philosophy of mind; philosophy of science; philosophy of language, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics and epistemology; and continental philosophy (including Nietzsche and phenomenology).
The Master of Arts (M.A.) program offered by the philosophy department is perennially among the highest-ranked of its kind in the United States. It has a strong record of placing its students in the excellent Ph.D. programs in philosophy. The program is ideal for students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy but whose undergraduate preparation in the subject might not qualify them for competitive doctoral programs.
We also have a record of placing our students in competitive law and J.D./Ph.D. programs. Our program is designed to be finished in two years, but some students elect to stay a third year.
Each year at least six seminars are offered, typically on faculty research interests, which include social ontology, philosophy of biology, metaethics, ordinary language philosophy, and special topics in the history of philosophy.
Students are required to complete 12 courses, including an intensive logic course and a graduate writing seminar. No Thesis is required.

Program Requirements

Summary

The M.A. in Philosophy requires completing twelve courses. Coursework must satisfy a breadth requirement. Two courses, one of which must be a designated core course, are required from each of three (3) distribution areas.

Coursework

The coursework consists of twelve (12) upper-level philosophy courses (courses numbered 100 or above). We do not accept transfer courses.
The twelve (12) courses must include:
  • Phil 103: Logic
    Students with proven strength in logic may be able to be exempt from the logic requirement.
  • Phil 297: Graduate Writing Seminar
    This course is designed to help students produce a highly polished paper as a capstone of their work in the program. This paper may serve as a writing sample for Ph.D. applicants.
Coursework must satisfy a breadth requirement. Two courses are required in each of these three (3) areas:
  1. Normative philosophy
  2. History of philosophy
  3. Metaphysics and epistemology
All upper-level philosophy courses, except the graduate writing seminar, fall into at least one of three distribution areas.
Coursework must also satisfy a core courses requirement. One designated core course is required from each of the three distribution areas above. Core courses that will be offered on a regular basis (either annually or bi-annually) include the following:
  1. Within normative philosophy: Ethical Theory, Political Philosophy
  2. Within history of philosophy: Ancient Philosophy, History of Modern Philosophy
  3. Within metaphysics and epistemology: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind
In addition to the above courses, others may be offered in a given semester that will count as "core" in one of the three distribution areas. Those courses will be designated as such prior to that semester.
In deciding which courses to take, students should be aware that some are offered regularly and some are not.

Learning Objectives

  • Preparation for admission to a strong Ph.D. program with a good job placement record.
  • Deep and broad knowledge of philosophical problems and methods in the general areas of normative philosophy, history of philosophy, and metaphysics & epistemology.
  • Knowledge of the fundamental concepts of modern formal logic, including sentence logic, quantification theory, and metatheory.
  • Understanding of how to approach dense historical and contemporary philosophical texts.
  • Oral articulation of philosophical positions, arguments, and objections.
  • Ability to handle the stages of writing a philosophical paper: namely, choosing a topic, conducting a literature review, constructing a solid argument, anticipating and addressing objections, soliciting critical feedback, and revising in response to criticism.

Application Requirements

  • Application fee
  • Resume/CV
  • Personal statement
  • Official GRE required
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS, if applicable
  • Transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample
While each application is evaluated holistically, an important part of a successful application is the writing sample. The ideal writing sample is a piece of your writing that best manifests your philosophical capacities. It need not be a philosophy paper. The ideal length of a writing sample is about 15 pages, double-spaced. More than 20 pages is probably too long, while 10 is probably too short.
Last updated June 2019

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