Master's in Philosophy

Discover your options for completing a master's degree in philosophy. Learn the prerequisites and course requirements for the program, as well as career and continuing education opportunities. Schools offering Liberal Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Master's in Philosophy Programs Exist?

The two most common master's in philosophy programs are a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Philosophy and a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.). An M.A. program will provide you with broad training in the field of philosophy. This type of program may be a fit for you if you do not have an extensive background in philosophy or you're unsure of your goals beyond completing a master's degree. An M.Phil. is intended as a stepping stone towards your Ph.D. program and is a more advanced degree than the M.A. Some schools will award the M.Phil. as a terminal degree while other schools award it to doctoral students who have completed all the program requirements except their dissertation.

Degree Types Master of Philosophy and Master of Arts
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree is required for all programs; some Master of Philosophy programs may require a master's degree
Common Courses Postmodernism, feminist theory, social philosophy, metaphysical philosophy
Continuing Education Doctoral programs are available

What Prerequisites Will I Need for a Master's in Philosophy Program?

Prior to beginning an M.A. program in philosophy, you'll need to possess a bachelor's degree. Some schools require you to have an undergraduate degree in philosophy or a similar humanities field. Most programs require a writing sample that demonstrates your understanding of basic philosophical concepts and your intellectual readiness for graduate study. In some cases, expertise in a language used by significant philosophical writers, such as Latin, Greek, German or French, is helpful for admissions.

For some M.Phil. programs, you will need to possess a master's degree in philosophy or a related field. Other schools may reward the M.Phil. to students who entered the Ph.D. program directly from a bachelor's program once the degree requirements are met. Additional requirements vary.

What Courses Will I Take?

Once enrolled in an M.A. program, you'll study numerous philosophers from throughout history, including ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. You'll also examine the works of Enlightenment philosophers, such as Voltaire, Kant and Rousseau. Alongside your study of the history of philosophy, you'll take courses covering contemporary issues of the field. These issues will vary by program and your area of interest, but they might include feminist theories, postmodernism, metaphysical philosophy and social philosophy.

The M.Phil. usually requires courses that supplement your earlier study or fill in any gaps in knowledge. This may mean studying philosophers or schools of thought you haven't previously explored, or studying areas in further depth that may be a focus of your doctoral studies. You will also focus extensively on research as you develop the skills you'll need in a doctoral program. Neither M.A. nor M.Phil. programs are widely available for online study.

What Can I Do With This Degree?

The most common reason to pursue any type of master's degree in philosophy is if you intend to go on to a doctoral program in the field, followed by a career in teaching. This is the stated purpose of the M.Phil. degree, and many schools allow you to directly enter a doctoral program when your master's degree is complete. In some cases, you may be able to find a teaching position at a college or university with an M.A. in Philosophy, though these openings are rare. In addition to further study in philosophy, an M.A. program gives you the critical thinking, analytical and communications skills that prepare you for further study in other disciplines, such as law, politics and medicine.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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