Master of Arts in Philosophy

Admission to Program

To enter this program with "classified" graduate status, students should have completed the following five undergraduate courses (or equivalent Philosophy courses at another university) with a grade of B or better.Students who have not completed these required classes may begin the program as "conditionally classified" with the approval of the Graduate Coordinator in Philosophy, but they will be required to make up any deficiencies by receiving a grade of 3.0 or better in each required class.

Required undergraduate courses for “classified” standing:

PHIL 205Formal Logic I3
PHIL 301Ancient Philosophy3
PHIL 303Modern Philosophy3
PHIL 450Ethics3

A GPA of 3.0 or better is expected for (1) the last 60 undergraduate units, and (2) all Philosophy courses.

If students have not taken one of the following courses as undergraduates, then before advancing to candidacy students must demonstrate they have completed one of the following undergraduate courses (or equivalent Philosophy courses at another university) with a B or better:

One course in Metaphysics and Epistemology (broadly construed):

PHIL 350Philosophy of Science3
PHIL 605Metaphysics3
PHIL 610Theory of Knowledge3
PHIL 611Philosophy of Perception3
PHIL 620Philosophy of Mind3
PHIL 630Philosophy of Language3

Note: PHIL 205 , PHIL 301, PHIL 303, and PHIL 450 are prerequisites for “classified standing” and cannot be counted toward the MA. One course from the list above is required for a student to advance to candidacy and can be counted toward the MA if it is taken at SFSU and is not counted toward another degree.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

The University has a requirement for written English proficiency that is to be assessed at two different points in a student's program.

Level One

Pre-admission writing sample.

Level Two

Satisfactory completion of the examination in PHIL 898 (and Oral Exam).

Advancement to Candidacy

To advance to candidacy so as to commence work formally on their M.A. thesis, students should submit their ATC in the semester in which they are taking their 18th unit, which must include PHIL 715 and at least two other graduate seminars in Philosophy. An “Advancement To Candidacy” form must be filed with Graduate Studies.

All upper-division courses offered by the Philosophy department may be considered for the master's degree, upon approval of the graduate coordinator. The graduate coordinator will not approve any course numbered 300 to 599 in which a student receives a grade below an A-. Courses numbered 600 to 699 must have received a grade of B- or better, except that with permission of the graduate coordinator some courses in this range may be counted with a grade of CR.

Students become subject to declassification from the Philosophy MA program and/or disqualification from the University if they are on administrative or academic probation for more than one consecutive semester during their time as a graduate student.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the history and current state of the discipline of philosophy.
  2. Demonstrate a sophisticated grasp of representative philosophical issues and ways of dealing with them.
  3. Demonstrate a mature capacity to apply philosophical methods to intellectual problems and to engage in philosophical discussions meeting the standards of the discipline.
  4. Apply advanced analytic skills.
  5. Apply advanced interpretive skills.
  6. Demonstrate mastery of the imaginative development of abstract formulations and their concrete applications.
  7. Develop the philosophical skills and knowledge necessary to do graduate work at the Ph.D. level.
  8. Develop the philosophical skills and knowledge necessary to teach philosophy at the community college (lower-division) level.
  9. Demonstrate the capacity to study philosophy beyond the undergraduate level for the purposes of self-enrichment or to acquire additional expertise related to their professions.

Philosophy (M.A.) — 33 Units Minimum

Students must take three required courses: PHIL 715; PHIL 896 (the M.A. qualifying exam); PHIL 898 (and Oral Exam). PHIL 715 should be taken during the first year (preferably during the first semester of graduate coursework); PHIL 896 should be taken during the second or third semester of graduate coursework (and in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator); PHIL 898 should be taken during the final semester of coursework. Also required are four philosophy graduate seminars (12 units), as well as another 12 graduate or upper-division elective units. Students may select from a wide array of graduate and upper-division courses, including various kinds of supervised research and applied, practicum, or publication projects to complete the last group of 12 elective units, but at least three of the units in this group must be at the graduate level.

PHIL 715Seminar in Philosophical Writing3
Graduate seminars in philosophy excluding PHIL 71512
Additional units in philosophy or in a related field with approval of Graduate Coordinator (3 units must be at the graduate level)12
PHIL 896Directed Reading in Fundamental Philosophical Texts (A student who fails the comprehensive examination at the end of this course may repeat the course only once) 13
PHIL 898Master's Thesis (and Oral Examination in Defense of Thesis)3