Requirements common to all MA degrees
- Completion of six (for the Thesis) or seven (for the Professional Paper) Philosophy courses: one course must be the Pro-seminar, PHIL 880, taken in the first graduate study year; one course may be a 300 or 400 level undergraduate course with graduate studies committee permission, completed with a grade of A- or higher (see below). The rest must be Graduate courses. Phil 899 and Phil 898 do not count towards this requirement
- Demonstrated competence in formal logic: a grade of A- or higher in any of Phil 310, 314, 315, 812, or 813; or another course by approval.
- There is no minimum residence requirement for MA students, but there is a maximum of 9 semesters (not counting leaves) allowed for completion.
- A minimum Cumulative GPA of 3.5 must be maintained to remain in good standing. A minimum GPA of 3.5 is required at the time of completion.
There are three ways to complete a Masters degree in the Department of Philosophy.
Professional Paper Option
The department recommends this option for most students planning to apply for a philosophy PhD program after completing their MA. The program is designed to broaden and deepen philosophical education and to allow the student to develop the necessary materials for a successful PhD program application. It involves a minimum of 7 courses, meeting the area distribution requirements, and aims directly at producing a viable writing sample - The Professional Paper.
Course Requirements: At least 7 regular graduate courses, including the Pro Seminar.
Course Distribution: At least one course must be in each of three major areas of philosophy: value theory, metaphysics and epistemology, and history of philosophy. Taken together with upper division undergraduate courses, normally completed previously, a total of three courses in each area are required. A student who wishes to complete the non-thesis MA and has not taken two courses in each of the distribution areas prior to enrolling in the program may satisfy the distribution requirement by choosing appropriate areas for the three remaining courses of the seven required to complete the degree, or take additional courses. In the latter case, they may be upper division undergraduate courses.
Overall Cumulative Grade Point Average: A Cumulative GPA of 3.5 is required to remain in good standing.
PHIL 899 and the Professional Paper: In this course, the student revises a paper to a standard suitable in form and content for submission to a professional journal. The starting point is typically a paper from a previously completed graduate course. The resulting Professional Paper normally shall not exceed 30 pages. The course is completed under the direction of the senior supervisor. Note: this course does not count as one of the seminars required for graduation.
The idea behind the Professional Paper is that those applying to PhD programs have a chance to produce a truly polished piece of work to use a writing sample in their applications, and those who do not, have the experience at least once in their educational career of working on something until it is really good – and not just until the course deadline. Thus the paper is not meant to be a small thesis, or an extended research project. On the contrary, because of the length restrictions on writing samples, the emphasis here is on quality, clarity, and focus, over quantity, breadth, and all-inclusive coverage. This is why we have the journal-article specification in the official definition of the requirement.
Final Examination: There is a public final examination on the Professional Paper produced in Phil 899. (See details under Completion)
Classic Thesis Option
This option has the following specific requirements:
Course requirements: At least 6 regular graduate courses, including the Pro Seminar.
Course Distribution: The candidate completes at least one course in each of three major areas of philosophy: value theory, metaphysics and epistemology, and history of philosophy.
Thesis: The student submits and successfully defends a thesis, normally not more than 100 pages in length, that gives evidence of independent critical ability. (See details under Completion)
Specialized Thesis Option
This option is intended for those who have a particular project and supervisor in mind when they enter the program, and especially for those with interdisciplinary interests. Note: this option is available only in extenuating circumstances. It has the following specific requirements:
Program of Study: The student is normally accepted into the program with a well-defined project and Program of Study, and a permanent (as opposed to interim) senior supervisor. The project and course of study is approved by the Departmental Graduate Committee prior to the student's first semester of registration. Specialized MA students are assigned Teaching Assistantships outside of their area of specialization only with the approval of the Departmental Graduate Committee.
Tailored distribution requirement: The courses required for completion of a Specialized MA are set at admission in the student’s Program of Study. Up to three of the required courses projected in the course of study may be from outside the Department of Philosophy.
Thesis: The student submits and successfully defends a thesis, normally not more than 100 pages in length, that gives evidence of independent critical ability (See details under Completion)
The area of specialization is noted on the student's final transcript under Committee Decisions.