Orange Alert

M.A. in Philosophy

Graduate Overview

Syracuse University offers programs leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy. Studies in the Ph.D. Program are designed to prepare students to make original contributions in philosophy and to teach at the college or university level. Studies in the M.A. Program are designed to enhance a student's understanding and expertise in some aspects of philosophy.

The curriculum of the department provides opportunities for concentrations in metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, ethics, political philosophy, and the history of philosophy. Considerable curricular resources, both within the philosophy department and in related departments, also provide for concentrations in which religion, psychology, law, continental philosophy and language and linguistics are the focus of philosophical interest. The degree programs reflect the view that proper graduate education in philosophy includes both the study of the history of philosophy and the examination of current philosophical issues.

How to Apply

Application deadline January 1 to be considered for funding; late applications considered until March 1.

Do not send application materials to the department, send all materials to the Graduate School (Admissions) directly.

The application fee is $75

The advance tuition deposit is $500.

In addition to completing the application, the following are also required:

  1. Transcripts from previous institutions
  2. Three (3) letters of recommendation
  3. Personal Statement
  4. TOEFL scores (for applicants whose first language is not English)
  5. Writing Sample (Please see instructions below)

***Note on GRE scores: We will no longer accept GRE scores as part of the application, and will not consider them even if you submit them.


Writing samples must be prepared in a way that facilitates our evaluating them via anonymous review. Please ensure that your writing sample satisfies the following criteria:

  1. The first page of the writing sample should include the title of the paper, the name of the author of the paper, and the institutional affiliation of the author.
  2. The second page of the writing sample should include only the title of the paper.
  3. No other page in the writing sample should include the name of the author, the institution of the author, or any acknowledgements or thanks to named individuals. (If the author of the paper feels it is important to include acknowledgements, these can be included on the first page of the paper.)
Graduate Financial Assistance

Tuition is currently $1,500/credit hour. However, we may be able to offer tuition waivers to MA students. We are ordinarily unable to offer further financial support for MA students at this time, whether in the form of teaching assistantships or fellowships.

In cases where we are able to offer a teaching assistantship or a fellowship to an MA student, these also come with grants for full tuition. In 2021/2022, University Fellows at the MA level will receive awards of $16,485.00. Beginning Teaching Assistants receive stipends of $22,104.00, are eligible to participate in the University's group health plan, and receive a discount at the University Bookstore. Current salaries for Teaching Associates are $23,398.00. All graduate students receive some basic health services from the Syracuse University Health Center. Please see the Human Resources website for further information on Employee Benefits.

The Department strongly encourages graduate student participation in professional conferences, and some travel funds are provided to graduate students to make such activity possible. (Here is a list of Recurring Philosophy Conferences.) The Department is usually able to provide small summer research grants to a few graduate students. Special funds normally make it possible to offer a colloquium featuring a speaker selected by the graduate students.

Sample Masters Degree Requirements

An M.A. is earned after completion of 24 credit hours of course work (8 courses) and an M.A. Thesis. The program is intended to:

  1. educate students in depth on the nature of philosophy
  2. train students in generic methods of reasoning and analysis of wide applicability
  3. permit graduate-level research and study in philosophy by students who are not necessarily committed to becoming contributing members of the field (such as university professors)

The M.A. Program is not a component of the Ph.D. Program, even though the M.A. degree can also be awarded as an intermediate achievement in the Ph.D. Program. Although courses, faculty, activities, and facilities are shared by both programs, acceptance in the Ph.D. Program is not included in acceptance in the M.A. Program. An important difference between the two programs is illustrated in the difference between an M.A. thesis and a Ph.D. dissertation. In addition to greater scope and complexity, the dissertation must make a genuine contribution to the advancement of philosophical research; whereas, the M.A. thesis need not make such a contribution (though it may). The M.A. thesis must, however, demonstrate mature understanding and expertise in philosophy.

Full-Time Certification: When you have completed your course requirements, and you are in ABD status, you need to register for GRD 998 every semester. Also, you need to complete a Full-Time Certification form as well to keep your status as a full-time graduate student in the Department.

The M.A. Program is independent of the Ph.D. Program in several ways. Within the Philosophy Department, it is administratively separate from the Ph.D. Program. Even though official admission to the S.U. Graduate School is required, further acceptance as a member of the Philosophy Ph.D. Program is not.

Although high standards for acceptance are demanded, appropriate flexibility will be applied in considering students who have minimal background in philosophy but who:

  1. are sufficiently motivated and capable in philosophical study and writing (as explicitly demonstrated in the admissions process) and/or
  2. have a satisfactory level of competence (through prior study, degrees, or experience) in fields allied to their intended focus in graduate-level study -- e.g., in psychology, fine arts, mathematics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, specific "hard" sciences, literature, social sciences, natural languages and linguistics, business, health professions, law, etc.

An important additional flexibility is the opportunity to gain admission to the program through effective performance in two courses taken as an unmatriculated student.

One aim of the program is to encourage concentration or focus on some particular area or topic of philosophical concern. Subject to faculty advice and guidance, and availability of relevant courses and faculty expertise, every student in the M.A. Program will select an area of study, or a specific philosophical topic, which will guide selection of courses.