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 B+ or better in each required class.

Required undergraduate courses for “classified” standing:

PHIL 205Formal Logic I3
PHIL 301Ancient Philosophy3
PHIL 303Modern Philosophy3
PHIL 321Being and Knowing3
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:

Note: PHIL 205 , PHIL 301, PHIL 303, PHIL 321, and PHIL 450 are prerequisites for “classified standing” and cannot be counted toward the MA.

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

  • 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.
  • Pedagogical Training may be satisfied in several ways, including enrollment in PHIL 718. Students should consult with their advisor to identify the best means to satisfy this requirement.
  • Graduate Electives (additional units in philosophy or in a related field) may come from graduate and upper-division courses, but at least 6 units must be at the graduate level.
PHIL 715Seminar in Philosophical Writing3
Graduate seminars in philosophy 112
Pedagogical Training3
Additional units in philosophy or in a related field 29
PHIL 896Directed Reading in Fundamental Philosophical Texts 33
PHIL 898Master's Thesis 43

Excludes PHIL 715.


Must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator. Six units must be at the graduate level.


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


Includes an Oral Examination in Defense of the Thesis.