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Masters Degree

For specific course requirements, consult the Course Catalog.

Usual Requirements

An M.A. is earned after completion of 24 credit hours of course work (8 courses) and an M.A. Thesis. The program is intended to:

  1. educate students in depth on the nature of philosophy
  2. train students in generic methods of reasoning and analysis of wide applicability
  3. permit graduate-level research and study in philosophy by students who are not necessarily committed to becoming contributing members of the field (such as university professors)

The M.A. Program is not a component of the Ph.D. Program, even though the M.A. degree can also be awarded as an intermediate achievement in the Ph.D. Program. Although courses, faculty, activities, and facilities are shared by both programs, acceptance in the Ph.D. Program is not included in acceptance in the M.A. Program. An important difference between the two programs is illustrated in the difference between an M.A. thesis and a Ph.D. dissertation. In addition to greater scope and complexity, the dissertation must make a genuine contribution to the advancement of philosophical research; whereas, the M.A. thesis need not make such a contribution (though it may). The M.A. thesis must, however, demonstrate mature understanding and expertise in philosophy.

Full-Time Certification: When you have completed your course requirements, and you are in ABD status, you need to register for GRD 998 every semester. Also, you need to complete a Full-Time Certification form as well to keep your status as a full-time graduate student in the Department.

The M.A. Program is independent of the Ph.D. Program in several ways. Within the Philosophy Department, it is administratively separate from the Ph.D. Program. Even though official admission to the S.U. Graduate School is required, further acceptance as a member of the Philosophy Ph.D. Program is not.

Although high standards for acceptance are demanded, appropriate flexibility will be applied in considering students who have minimal background in philosophy but who:

  1. are sufficiently motivated and capable in philosophical study and writing (as explicitly demonstrated in the admissions process) and/or
  2. have a satisfactory level of competence (through prior study, degrees, or experience) in fields allied to their intended focus in graduate-level study -- e.g., in psychology, fine arts, mathematics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, specific "hard" sciences, literature, social sciences, natural languages and linguistics, business, health professions, law, etc.

An important additional flexibility is the opportunity to gain admission to the program through effective performance in two courses taken as an unmatriculated student.

One aim of the program is to encourage concentration or focus on some particular area or topic of philosophical concern. Subject to faculty advice and guidance, and availability of relevant courses and faculty expertise, every student in the M.A. Program will select an area of study, or a specific philosophical topic, which will guide selection of courses.