Master of Arts in Philosophy

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

Admission to Program

To enter this program with classified graduate status, students should have completed the following five SF State undergraduate courses (or equivalents philosophy courses at another university) with a grade of B or better:

PHIL 205Formal Logic I3
PHIL 301Ancient Philosophy3
PHIL 303Modern Philosophy3
Select one upper division course in ethics3
Ethical Issues: Science and Technology
Feminist Moral Issues
Select one course in core area of metaphysics and epistemology 3
Being and Knowing
Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of Risk
Theory of Knowledge
Philosophy of Perception
Philosophy of Mind
Minds, Brains and Computers
Philosophy of Language
Philosophical Logic Workshop
Advanced Logic Workshop

Students who have not completed these prerequisites may begin the program as a conditionally classified student 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 prerequisite class. A GPA of at least 3.0 is expected for (1) the last 60 undergraduate units, and (2) all philosophy courses.

Applicants must submit a Philosophy Department application, obtained from and returned to the department office, as well as the general university application form.

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 examination in PHIL 898 (and Oral Exam).

Advancement to Candidacy

To be advanced to candidacy so as to commence work formally on their MA thesis, students must be in the process of completing or else have completed 18 units, which must include PHIL 715 and at least two other graduate seminars in philosophy with grades of B or better. An “Advancement To Candidacy” form must be filed with Graduate Studies; students should file during the semester in which they expect to have reached 18 units or in the immediately following semester.

All upper-division courses offered by Philosophy may be considered for the master's degree, upon approval of the Graduate Coordinator. The graduate coordinator will not approve any course numbered 300-599 in which a student receives below an A-. Courses numbered 600 or higher must have receive a grade of B- or higher, 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/academic probation for more than one semester during their time as a graduate student.

Philosophy (M.A.) — Minimum 33 units

Course Requirements:

Students must take three required courses: PHIL 715 Seminar in Philosophical Writing; PHIL 896 Directed Reading in Fundamental Philosophical Texts (the MA qualifying exam1); PHIL 898 Master's Thesis (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; PHIL 898 should be taken during the final semester of coursework. Also required are four elective 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 3 of the units in this group must be at the graduate level.

PHIL 715Seminar in Philosophical Writing 13
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) 23
PHIL 898Master's Thesis (and Oral Examination in Defense of Thesis) 33

PHIL 715 should be taken during the first year (preferably during the first semester of graduate coursework)


 PHIL 896 is a mandatory CR/NC course. Students who fail the exam may attempt it only once more, after enrolling again. Students should consult with the Graduate Coordinator to determine when they are ready to take this course. It must be completed with a CR before the student may enroll in PHIL 898, the master's thesis course.


 PHIL 898 should be taken during the final semester of coursework.