MA Degree

The Philosophy Department does not admit students directly into an MA program. Masters degrees are awarded only to students who are enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Chicago. These can be either (i) doctoral students in another discipline who seek a "secondary" MA in Philosophy, in conjunction with their doctoral studies in that other discipline; or (ii) doctoral students in Philosophy who want an MA.

The requirements for the degree are the same in either case. The requirements can be satisfied entirely by course-work; no thesis is required. They are specified in five clauses:

  • Quality: No course for which the student received a grade lower than a B+ will satisfy any requirement for the MA.
  • Level: Only courses taken at the graduate level (that is, with a course-number of 30000 or higher) can satisfy any requirement for the MA.
  • Quantity: The student must complete at least eight courses in Philosophy at the University of Chicago. (Reading and research courses do not count toward satisfying this requirement, nor do courses taken pass/fail---except the first-year seminar, which counts as one course (if passed).
  • Distribution: The student must have taken at least one designated course in each of the Philosophy Department's five "areas" — namely:
    • Area I: Value theory
    • Area II: Philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and logic
    • Area III: Epistemology and metaphysics
    • Area IV: Ancient or Medieval philosophy
    • Area V: Modern philosophy (17th-19th century)
  • Elementary Logic: The student must demonstrate competence in elementary logic. This can be achieved by an interview in which the candidate satisfies one of the Department's logicians that he or she has the required competence, or by taking the Elementary Logic course (Philosophy 30000), or any more advanced logic course offered by the Department. Philosophy 30000 can count as one of the minimum eight courses, but it does not satisfy the Area II requirement. A more advanced logic class does both.

Application Procedures

Doctoral Students in the Dept. of Philosophy may apply for the M.A. at any time after they have completed the requirements. 1. Contact the Department Coordinator so that the proper paperwork is submitted verifying your courses (above) and 2. Contact the office of the Dean of Students in order to gain access to the degree application screen in myUchicago portal. Keep your expected graduation date set to the date you anticipate receiving the Ph.D.

Students in a Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago in a department other than Philosophy who wish to receive a "secondary" M.A. in Philosophy must first apply for admission to the M.A. program in the Dept. of Philosophy. No student can apply unless she has taken at least three Philosophy courses, and it is expected that the student will apply soon after completing that number of courses.

To initiate the application process, the student should first read the University requirements for a second M.A. here, and then set up an appointment with Michael Beetley in the Office of the Dean of Students in the Division of Humanities who will direct the student through the required paperwork and obtain

  1. The applicant's transcript of courses taken for the B.A.
  2. Her GRE scores, and
  3. a transcript of the applicant's courses at the University of Chicago taken up to the time of the application. In addition, the applicant must submit
  4. A sample of her best philosophical writing. This may but need not be a paper written for one of the applicant's already completed Philosophy courses at the University.
  5. A brief letter from the chair or director of graduate studies of the applicant's home department supporting the application. The letter should explain why the student is seeking an M.A. in philosophy to complement her doctoral studies.
  6. Names of two faculty in the Dept. of Philosophy who can comment on work done by the applicant and on her philosophical potential.
  7. A statement by the applicant that explains why she is seeking an M.A. in Philosophy.

Note: The information on this page concerns only MA degrees awarded directly by the Philosophy Department. These should not be confused with those awarded to students pursuing the Philosophy Concentration in the MAPH program. For more information about the latter, please click here.