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MA (Philosophy), Thesis Option


The Master of Arts Philosophy [MAPh] thesis program helps students develop knowledge in both history of philosophy and systematic philosophy. Students learn to place these traditions in critical dialogue with modern and contemporary philosophical thought.

Recommended for those with an interest in advanced graduate studies, the MAPh Thesis Option allows students to explore a focused area of academic research on a particular topic of interest through elective coursework and a written thesis with an oral defense. MAPh students participate in the MA Philosophy Colloquium which provides support for the thesis process.

The MAPh is a two-year program which requires a total of 48 semester units, distributed as described below. The maximum time permitted for the completion of the program is four years.. All students in the MAPh program are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA. A grade of “B-” (2.7) or better is necessary in all courses used to satisfy core requirements in the program.

Consult the Student Handbook for more details

Goals & Outcomes

In addition to the stated institutional goals, students in the MAPh Thesis Option develop:

  1. A comprehensive knowledge of the history of the Western philosophical tradition;
  2. A detailed understanding of systematic philosophy;
  3. Skills for academic research;
  4. A focused knowledge in one specific topic of philosophical inquiry;
  5. Skills for advanced academic writing and publication.

In addition to the stated institutional outcomes, students must

  1. produce a thesis proposal which articulates and effectively communicates clear goals and outcomes for the proposed thesis;
  2. produce a well-written thesis that meets specified criteria, e.g. philosophical knowledge, writing skills, etc.;
  3. use the MA Colloquium and oral defense to demonstrate their skills for collaborative learning. Students will use their thesis proposal and thesis to demonstrate an ability
  • to listen attentively to input from peers and faculty on questions or points of disagreement, and
  • to formulate responses which incorporate issues raised.


Academic Research & Writing Salon – 3 units

Systematic Philosophy – 12 units (at least 4 three-unit courses required)

Philosophy of Nature
Philosophical Anthropology
Theory of Knowledge
Philosophical Ethics

History of Philosophy – 6 units (at least 2 three-unit courses required)

History of Ancient
History of Medieval
History of Modern
History of Contemporary

Electives – 24 units

In Thesis – 3 units

Foreign Language Certification

Students in the Thesis Option of the MAPh must demonstrate reading proficiency and comprehension skills in a foreign language.

Sequence of Courses and Fulfillment of Requirements for the MAPh Thesis Option (Typical)

MA Colloquium

Meeting periodically throughout the year, the MA Colloquium provides students with an opportunity to discuss their research. They are able to engage in academic conversation in a collaborative learning environment, to sharpen their listening and communication skills. Each student will act as chair of the Colloquium for a meeting and make at least one presentation related to their Thesis Proposal.


Promotion to the degree of MAPh, Thesis Option, requires the successful completion of a written thesis and an oral defense of the thesis. The thesis will demonstrate a capacity for scholarly philosophical research by using appropriate primary and secondary source materials, along with relevant current discussions, and for presenting findings in a clear and convincing manner.

The thesis is to be approximately eighty (80) pages in length (approx. 20,000 words, not counting notes or bibliography) and written according to the standards prescribed in the most recent edition of A Manual for the Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, by Kate Turabian. A comprehensive bibliography of the appropriate sources and modern treatments of the subject matter of the thesis should be included in the final copy.

See past thesis titles and summaries

Consult the Student Handbook for more details