Master of Arts Program in Humanities (MAPH): Philosophy Concentration

The University of Chicago offers Masters level study in Philosophy through the Master of Arts Program in Humanities. In this one-year program, students build their own curriculum with graduate-level courses in any humanities department (including Philosophy) and complete a thesis with a faculty advisor.

The philosophy department at the University of Chicago is wide-ranging in its research and teaching interests, which, given the size of the department, typically allows a wealth of course offerings. Faculty interests presently include, but are not limited to, the philosophy of mind and action, Wittgenstein, Kant, the philosophy of science (physics, biology, mathematics), epistemology, metaphysics, psychoanalysis, logic, ancient philosophy, philosophy of art and aesthetics, philosophy of language, moral psychology and moral and political philosophy, medieval philosophy, phenomenology, Nietzsche, Marx, Heidegger, the philosophy of religion, and the history of philosophy. As this list suggests, the department is unusual in the extent and depth of its engagement with both the analytic and continental traditions. These traditions are treated as complementary, rather than exclusive; many of the philosophy faculty teach and do research in both traditions. MAPH students who study philosophy can expect to take away from their year in the program a heightened appreciation of both of these approaches to philosophy.

Each year the MAPH program admits an average of ten to twenty students whose primary focus is philosophy. These students are welcomed by the philosophy department each fall at the department’s graduate student library and lounge—a place where MAPH/philosophy students can come during their year in Chicago, to study or to meet and talk to philosophy students at either the master’s or doctoral level. MAPH/philosophy students are ably assisted by the doctoral students from the philosophy department that the MAPH program hires as preceptors each year (for more information about the role of preceptors in MAPH, please consult the MAPH website). In addition to the classes that these preceptors lead and the help with MAPH coursework, writing, etc. that they provide, the preceptors from the philosophy department serve as guides—to the philosophy department, to the philosophical profession, and to philosophy itself.

MAPH students interested in philosophy, like MAPH students generally, can use their time in the program in any of various ways. Those who go on to pursue a doctorate in philosophy will leave the program solidly prepared to do work at that level. Some discover that the aspects of philosophy most exciting to them are taken up in a better or more congenial way outside the philosophy department (for example, the questions in the philosophy of language that they want to pursue may turn out to receive their fullest treatment in the Linguistics or Comparative Literature departments; their study of aesthetics may find its home in Art History, or Cinema and Media Studies; and so on). Some find, indeed, that their interests lie outside philosophy altogether. It is one of the virtues of the MAPH program that it makes these possibilities available and transparent to its participants, and offers guidance in the process of selecting from them.

If you have further questions about studying philosophy in the MAPH program, contact