Jul 22, 2024  
University Catalog 2021-2022 
University Catalog 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Philosophy, M.A.

The Master of Arts degree in Philosophy draws students with a wide range of interests and professional goals, including further graduate study in philosophy, community college teaching and personal enrichment. Although the department is analytically oriented, it encourages work in other areas, for example, Asian philosophy, feminist philosophy, and the intersection between European and Anglo-American thought.

Admission to the Program

In addition to University requirements for admission to graduate study the Philosophy Department requires a 2.75 grade point average in the last 60 semester or 90 quarter units, official transcripts, and a writing sample (either a statement of purpose or a philosophy paper). Applicants must possess a baccalaureate in philosophy or a baccalaureate with a major in a field other than philosophy supplemented by the equivalent of a minor in philosophy. The director of graduate studies in the Department of Philosophy will determine whether prior course work is equivalent to a minor. Applicants to the graduate program are admitted based on a comprehensive review of their application materials by the Department of Philosophy.

Applicants must consult an advisor in philosophy to determine whether any academic deficiencies exist before admission to the program can be granted.

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 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.

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


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: