Students interested in studying the basic concepts, foundations, thinking processes and methodologies of mathematics may pursue a master's or doctoral degree program in the philosophy of mathematics. Often these degree programs are interdisciplinary with coursework from the philosophy and mathematics departments and provide students with necessary research skills through final projects. Learn more about what makes the master's and the doctoral programs unique.
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Master of Arts vs. Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy of Mathematics
Master of Arts in Philosophy
Typically at the master's level, students can pursue a Master of Arts (MA) in Philosophy with a specialization in the philosophy of mathematics or the philosophy of science to study the conceptual foundations of mathematics. Some programs may also offer joint Bachelor of Arts (BA)/MA, Juris Doctor (JD)/MA and MA/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs and/or teaching opportunities. The traditional MA program may require around 33 semester hours, a final thesis and require students to maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program. Students in these programs may take courses in topics such as logic, the philosophy of mathematics, value theory, scientific methodology, modern philosophy and other seminars. Graduates of MA in Philosophy programs may go on to pursue doctoral study or careers in law, education or other fields that require critical thinking and communication skills.
Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy of Mathematics
At the doctoral level, students can pursue PhD programs that go by various names (and may be offered as a joint degree), such as logic, computation and methodology or logic and foundations of mathematics, or traditional PhD in Philosophy programs with a specialization in the philosophy of mathematics and logic. Even within these degree programs students can further specialize and focus their research in various areas of the field, like the philosophy and history of mathematics, philosophical logic, categorical logic or proof theory. Credit requirements for these programs vary by institution and program, but students are typically required to complete comprehensive exams and a dissertation. Coursework topics also vary, but students usually take courses from the philosophy and mathematics departments that may discuss topics such as algebra, logic, history of philosophy, methods, value theory and theory of knowledge. Graduates of these programs may pursue careers areas like law or higher education or pursue more education as post-docs, medical students and more.
Common Entrance Requirements
Applicants to graduate programs in the philosophy of mathematics usually need to have at least a bachelor's degree and some programs may require a minimum GPA around a 3.0. Some of these programs may also require applicants to have prior coursework in philosophy, logic, value theory and/or other areas or complete these courses during the first year of the program. Most commonly, students interested in these degree programs will need to include their transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and a writing sample with their application. The writing sample usually needs to be a piece of original philosophical writing on a philosophical topic.
Most commonly students can earn an MA or PhD in Philosophy with a concentration in the philosophy of mathematics. Students in these programs usually complete a thesis or dissertation and prepare for careers in a variety of fields.