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Philosophy Masters Programs with Course Information

Philosophy as an academic field of study is comprised of five major sections: ethics, logic, aesthetics, metaphysics and epistemology. Master's degree programs can focus on one area or provide a broad overview of the field.

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Essential Information

A Master of Philosophy program is sometimes considered more advanced than a Master of Arts in Philosophy program, though both programs lead to some of the same research and 2-year college teaching careers (most 4-year universities prefer professors who hold doctoral degrees). In addition, both programs require completion of a final thesis. Prerequisites for master's programs include a bachelor's degree in philosophy or significant philosophy coursework as well as GRE or GMAT scores.


Master of Arts in Philosophy

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Philosophy program offers concentration options in such areas as environmental philosophy or language. Students of philosophy master's degree programs explore a number of topics, including the moral implications of human actions on society, the status of being and the examination of words, dialogues and idioms. The M.A. program, which typically includes qualifying examinations and a thesis, can be completed in two years.

Most M.A. programs in philosophy require philosophy coursework from an undergraduate liberal arts program or a bachelor's degree in philosophy. Program length will vary if the student's undergraduate degree is in a field other than philosophy. The minimum grade point average (GPA) and GRE or GMAT scores, if required, will vary by philosophy program.

Much of the philosophy master's degree program incorporates discussions and coursework in research, theory and science applications. The M.A. curriculum will also explore specific concepts in its graduate-level courses, such as:

  • Logic
  • Modern philosophy
  • Greek philosophy
  • Value theory

Master of Philosophy

The Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) is a postgraduate research degree, which is primarily offered through economics, sociology, anthropology and political science departments. The M.Phil program is designed for mid-career professionals and students who want advanced training beyond that of a traditional Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) program. Most Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs specifically in philosophy mandate the M.Phil as a pre-dissertation requirement.

The M.Phil program can be highly competitive, and requirements vary by college and university. Students who do not hold a bachelor's degree in philosophy may need to complete prerequisite coursework in philosophy and related fields.

The M.Phil curriculum typically includes research for a dissertation, thesis or capstone project, as well as the following course subjects:

  • Logic
  • Philosophy of language survey
  • Medieval philosophy
  • Philosophy of law
  • Philosophy of mind

Popular Career Options

Graduates with master's degrees in philosophy often pursue careers in ministry, law, public service and education; however, many opportunities exist in medicine, law or the following:

  • Writing
  • Research science in philosophy
  • Foreign diplomacy

Career opportunities for graduates of the M.Phil program are similar to those who hold an M.A. in Philosophy. Students may consider applying their research and analytical skills to careers in the government, non-profit or corporate sectors. Examples of such careers are highlighted below:

  • Mediator
  • Econometric consultant
  • Philosophy professor

Continuing Education

The M.A. and M.Phil in Philosophy programs are both designed to prepare students for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program. Graduates who choose to further a philosophy education through a Ph.D. program typically complete intense philosophical research in one of the sub-fields. There are colleges and universities across the country that offer 6-year dual master's and Ph.D. programs.

Philosophy graduate students can choose to focus on one area of the field or receive more general preparation for specializing within the doctorate level. Possible careers for graduates exist in fields such as writing, education, medicine, foreign diplomacy, research, and more.

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