Philosophy M.A.


The M.A. program is host to talented students from diverse academic backgrounds. The program is open not only to applicants who majored in philosophy as undergraduates, but also to applicants from other disciplines, who have a significant background in philosophy and who now want to study philosophy more intensively. The program is designed to be completed in one to two years.

Preparation for the Master’s Degree

Students can apply to be admitted into the graduate program to pursue the M.A. in philosophy. Interested students should discuss the possibility with one or more faculty members and formally apply online to the graduate program during fall quarter. For up-to-date information about the application process, consult the department’s website and contact the graduate advisor.

Relationship of the M.A. and Ph.D. Programs

Students in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs will be in the same classes and work on the same course distribution requirements. Enrollment in the M.A. program confers no advantage for admission to the Ph.D. program.

Applications and Admissions

Application materials are available online. Further information regarding the program may be requested from the Department of Philosophy at (831) 459-4578, fax: (831) 459-2650 or visit the department website.


Course Requirements

Requirements in the First Year

During their first year, all graduate students are expected to fulfill a set of breadth requirements. These requirements are designed to provide both a common experience on which students can build their individual projects and a shared framework within which they can exchange ideas. Every graduate student in philosophy is required to complete six courses in their first year.

This minimal core set of courses will consist of (i) three graduate seminars, designated by the department each year as mandatory for every first year student, and (ii) three electives (any three graduate seminars in philosophy). Of the three required seminars, one will be in metaphysics/epistemology, one in the history of philosophy, and one in moral philosophy.

No courses labeled PHIL 294 or higher will satisfy any of these minimum core requirements. This restriction is redundant for PHIL 299 (since that course is open only to students who have advanced to candidacy). The point of this restriction is to limit the use of independent studies, reading groups or student seminars for graduate seminar credit.

During their first year of study all students must pass a logic competency examination with a grade of B or better. This examination will cover material typically taught in a first course in formal logic.

To facilitate professionalization in the exchange and development of academic knowledge and skills, M.A. students are strongly encouraged—though not required—to enroll in PHIL 280 and PHIL 281. However, M.A. students wishing to TA (teaching assistant) at any point during their time in the program must enroll in PHIL 281.

PHIL 280Graduate Colloquia Course


PHIL 281The Pedagogy of Philosophy


PHIL 280, Graduate Colloquia Course, provides preparation for and requires attendance at all department-sponsored colloquia and works-in-progress presentations each quarter.

PHIL 281, The Pedagogy of Philosophy, provides training in university-level teaching in general and in the pedagogy of philosophy specifically. It meets during the fall quarter only.

For further details, see the department’s web page or consult with the department’s graduate advisor.


A minimum of nine graduate courses. After the first-year coursework requirements have been met, M.A. students may substitute up to two of the three remaining graduate seminars with graduate seminars offered in other programs and/or with independent studies in philosophy (PHIL 297).

Other Requirements

By the end of the second year of study and the completion of 45 credits, M.A. students will submit a master's capstone paper, which will normally be defended before a committee of two faculty.

Applying for Graduation

Students apply to graduate by contacting the department graduate advisor and completing the relevant forms from Graduate Division.