Master of Arts in Philosophy provides a broad grounding in the history of philosophy, in the analytic tradition in metaphysics and epistemology, and in ethics and value theory, including political philosophy. Our program also has a traditional and ongoing strength in the history and philosophy of science. We do not require that a student have completed an undergraduate philosophy major. A number of our students have come to philosophy too late in their undergraduate years to complete a major, and many of them returned back to school after some years of completing their undergraduate degrees.
The MA degree requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate level coursework. Up to 6 of these hours can be from 4000 level courses in cases where the areas in question are not covered at the 5000 or 6000 level. Students may complete the degree by selecting either a Thesis or a Non-thesis track. Students who wish to pursue either option must petition to do so after consultation with their advisors. If the student chooses the thesis option, this choice should take place by the end of the second semester of study, so that a plan of independent research can be set up for the summer and a draft of the thesis can be presented to the student’s advisor by early fall of the second year. Late petitions may be considered after the summer, at the faculty’s discretion, but generally not after the first month of the fall semester of the second year.
Commonwealth Campus Program
Our M.A. Program normally admits full-time students only in the fall semester. Exceptions are possible in special circumstances. We encourage part-time students and Commonwealth Campus students to ask about rolling admission. Prospective students who wish to take a few classes prior to applying to our M.A. Program are welcome to apply for the Commonwealth Campus Program, which allows people who have completed their undergraduate degrees to take up to 12 credit hours (4 courses) without first being admitted into a departmental program, assuming the department has space for them in its classes and agrees to it.
Assistantships and Funding
The Department is able to award between four and five graduate teaching assistantships each year. Assistantships are available only to full-time students only. New students are considered for assistantships only for entry into the program in the fall semester. Initial offers of assistantships will be made sometime between March 1st and April 1st. We will continue to offer assistantships later, as needed, until we have assigned all available assistantships. Currently, most of our students have assistantships. We work to help all students, with and without assistantships, to find additional sources of funding and support.
The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences also offers the following funding sources, which are competitive and are nominanted by faculty members direclty to Graduate School.
- Dean's Diversity Assistantships for students who qualify (same financial package as GTAships).
- McNair Scholar assistantships, on a competitive basis, to students who were McNair Scholars as undergraduates (same financial package as GTAships).
- The Powell Fellowship, for long-term Virginia residents who demonstrate financial need ($20,000 for one year, plus in-state tuition).
- Additional funding opportunities are updated regularly on a website from the Graduate School.