M.A. in Philosophy
Our department offers graduate students both a Non-Thesis (“Paper”) Option and a Thesis Option.
The Non-Thesis (“Paper”) Option
Course Work: 36 semester hours (12 courses) of graduate-level course work
Non-Thesis Requirements: During the third semester of graduate work, the student must notify the director of graduate studies of his or her intent to submit a paper on a particular topic. Upon approval of the director and in discussion with the candidate, the faculty will select three graduate faculty to hear the paper presentation. The director will be the student’s primary adviser and liaison with the Graduate School and, together with the other two members of the committee, will evaluate the paper and the oral examination.
Faculty Advice: The Masters paper should be (roughly) the length of a short article that could be submitted to most professional journals (6k-8k words). The faculty believes that this is the best option for most students: the paper project encourages students to perfect their writing, it gives them a great opportunity to craft a suitable writing sample for Ph.D. applications, and it allows them to get the most from their course work. Students should seek advice from a faculty member during their third semester, and plan to write the paper during their fourth (and final) semester. Students are highly encouraged to use work they have turned in for other graduate classes as a starting point for developing a successful Masters paper; think of the paper assignments in your graduate classes as laboratories for your writing.
The Thesis Option
Course Work: 30 semester hours (10 courses) of graduate-level course work and 6 hours thesis work
Thesis Requirements: Students must submit a one- or two-page thesis prospectus to the departmental graduate faculty by no later than the middle of their third semester. Upon approval of the prospectus and in discussion with the candidate, the faculty will select a director and two other graduate faculty to serve as the thesis committee. The thesis director will be the student’s primary adviser and liaison with the Graduate School and, together with the other two members of the thesis committee, will evaluate the thesis and the oral examination.
Faculty Advice: Students should only attempt the thesis option if they have a very clear idea of their project, and have received encouragement from a faculty member to pursue that project, before the end of their second semester. The faculty believes that an excellent thesis requires two full semesters of writing, a summer’s worth of background research, and a great deal of preparation and planning. Students should plan on submitting a thesis that is (roughly) the length of two or three short articles suitable for professional journals (12k-18k words).