The University of Chicago offers masters-level study in the Philosophy specialization through the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH). The MAPH program is usually a one-year program, but there is also a two-year language intensive program option. In this Division of Humanities program, students build their own curriculum with graduate-level courses in any humanities department (including Philosophy) and complete a thesis paper, thesis project, or seminar paper with a faculty advisor. Because the Department of Philosophy is wide-ranging in its research and teaching interests, the program typically has a wealth of graduate course offerings for masters students. Moreover, the department is unusual in the extent and depth of its engagement with both the analytic and continental traditions, so the MAPH curriculum here will make subsequent PhD applications both more impressive and well-rounded.
Each year the MAPH program admits an average of 10-15 students whose primary focus is philosophy. These students are welcomed by the Department of Philosophy each fall at the department’s graduate student library—a place where MAPH students can come during their year in Chicago to study or to meet and talk to philosophy students at either the masters or doctoral level. MAPH philosophy students are ably assisted by preceptors (recent Department of Philosophy PhDs or current PhD students) whom the MAPH program hires as preceptors each year. (For more information about the role of preceptors in MAPH, please consult the MAPH website or contact MAPH administrators). In addition to the classes that these preceptors lead and the help they provide for MAPH coursework and writing, they serve as guides—to the Department of Philosophy, the philosophical profession, and philosophy itself. Students who choose to specialize in Philosophy during their time in the MAPH program receive a MAPH degree. Philosophy is not noted as a program option on the transcript, but students do enroll in Philosophy coursework and are guided by Philosophy faculty. MAPH is the only option for studying Philosophy at the MA level at the University of Chicago for students who are not already enrolled in a doctoral program at the University.
MAPH students interested in philosophy, like MAPH students generally, can use their time in the program in 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 Department of Philosophy (e.g., 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 philosophical interests lie outside academic 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.