Sep 25, 2022  
University Catalog 2019-2020 
University Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Philosophy, M.A.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Index of Academic Degrees, Certificates and Programs Listed Alphabetically

The M.A. degree is a rigorous program designed to develop research and conceptual skills for students whose primary interest is in continuing education in a doctoral program. A key feature of the program is a close mentoring relationship with a faculty member who oversees the student’s progress toward his or her individual research goals.

General Program Requirements

At least 50% of the required 31-32 units must be 5000-level. A minimum of 9 units must come from courses other than PSY 5950 PSY 5970 , PSY 5980, and PSY 5990.

General Admission Requirements

In addition to submitting a University Admissions Application, applicants must also apply separately to the department. Please note that acceptance into the University does not guarantee admittance to the department. Application forms are available on the department website. Completed applications and transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (except Cal State L.A.) must be received by the department as well as the admissions office before action on admission can be taken. Note that application deadlines for each program and required supporting materials are stated within the department’s application form.

The minimum requirements for admission to the graduate program in psychology are:

  • Completion of an undergraduate major in psychology with a grade point average of 2.75 or higher in the last 60 semester units of work at an accredited institution; OR  students whose bachelor’s degree is not in psychology, completion of the non-major conditional program of 23 units (described below) with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation from those who are familiar with your academic capabilities, at least 2 of which must be from academic sources.
  • A Statement of Purpose of 400 to 500 words indicating your reasons for wishing to pursue a research degree, your particular areas of interest, and any experience relevant to your goals and interests. If you have identified a particular faculty member as a possible mentor, indicate this in your letter. (Note that this does not guarantee working with this faculty member.)
  • Applicant interview and applicant interview writing sample may be requested.

Note that these minimum admissions requirements apply to the MA degree. Forensic Psychology option of the MS degree requires a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Admission to the Master of Arts Program

Students must submit a complete application by April 10 to be considered for September admission. Applicants will be notified of their status by June 1st.

I. Special Action Admission

Applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements must petition directly to the department for admission by Psychology / 643 special action. All petitions must be accompanied by evidence that the applicant is qualified for graduate work. This evidence could include (but is not limited to) relevant experience or high GRE scores.  Students whose petitions are approved must complete a 12 unit conditional program of upper division course work in psychology with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Students are cautioned that no credit toward a graduate degree can be earned before completion of the conditional program.

II. Non-major conditional program for students whose baccalaureate is not in Psychology

The following 23 units of prerequisites (or their equivalents) must be completed before beginning the Master’s program.

  • Group A (11 units): PSY 3020, PSY 3040, PSY 3080
  • Group B (any 2 courses, 6 units): PSY 3100, PSY 4100, PSY 4120
  • Group C (any 2 courses, 6 units): PSY 3220, PSY 4010, PSY 4210, PSY 4240, PSY 4250, PSY 4330

Requirements for the Degree (30 units)

A total of 30 units is required, with at least 15 units in 5000-level courses.  At least 24 units must be in Philosophy; courses outside Philosophy must be relevant to the student’s program.

Foundational Courses (9 units)

Students are required to include the following philosophy courses in their program, if not completed prior to admission to the program.

Comprehensive Examinations or Thesis (0, 3 units)

Comprehensive Examinations

Students must comply with college and departmental eligibility requirements for registration for the comprehensive examinations (PHIL 5960) and may take all three examinations during one semester or spread them over successive semesters.

Students are required to pass comprehensive examinations in three of the four areas in which exams are given; in each area students select one exam.

Area A: Metaphysics or Theory of Knowledge
Area B: Ethics or Social/Political Philosophy
Area C: History of Ancient Philosophy or History of Modern Philosophy
Area D: Aesthetics, Asian Philosophy, Contemporary Continental Philosophy, Latin American Philosophy, Logic, Nineteenth Century Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Religion, or Philosophy of Science.

Students are permitted two attempts to pass each comprehensive examination. Students who fail a comprehensive examination in the same area a second time will be disqualified from the program.

Comprehensive exams will be offered only in the fall and spring terms.


Completion of the first 24 units of the master’s degree program with a minimum 3.5 grade point average, approval of the thesis proposal by the department, enrollment in 3 units of PHIL 5990, and an oral examination on the thesis are required for the thesis option. Students who have at any time attempted the comprehensive examination (PHIL 5960) are ineligible for this option.

Students completing a thesis must complete seminars in at least three of the four major subject areas in their master’s degree program. The four subject areas and the courses that fulfill each are:

History of Philosophy:

PHIL 5100 (3) , PHIL 5110 (3)  , PHIL 5130 (3)  , and PHIL 5150 (3)  

Logic, Philosophy of Language, and Philosophy of Science:

PHIL 5210 (3)  , PHIL 5230 (3)  , and PHIL 5250 (3)  

Metaphysics and Theory of Knowledge:
PHIL 5310 (3) , PHIL 5320 (3)  , and PHIL 5330 (3) 

Aesthetics, Ethics, and Social/Political Philosophy:

PHIL 5420 (3) , PHIL 5430 (3)  , and PHIL 5440 (3)  

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Index of Academic Degrees, Certificates and Programs Listed Alphabetically