M.A. Requirements

A Group of Students at Caesar Chavez Park Water Fountains

We offer three plans for the M.A. in Philosophy. All three plans require 30 units of coursework* and the Comprehensive Examination:


Core Courses (12 units)

PHIL 290
PHIL 291
PHIL 292
PHIL 293 or PHIL 157

Elective Courses (12 units)

Selected from 100- and 200-level courses within the Department**

  • Plan A, option 1 - Thesis (appropriate for students who wish to pursue a formal written project under close faculty supervision; may be useful preparation for writing a dissertation at a Ph.D.-granting institution)

    PHIL 298 (directed reading in support of the thesis; 3 units)
    PHIL 299 (thesis and oral defense; 3 units)***

  • Plan A, option 2 - Applied Philosophy Project (connects philosophy in a systematic manner to professional life in Silicon Valley, or to the wider world, allowing students to reflect, in a sustained and rigorous way, on ethical, social, epistemological, or metaphysical aspects of a human endeavor)

    PHIL 200-level course (on advisement; 3 units)
    PHIL 298 (directed reading in support of applied philosophy project; 3 units)***

  • Plan B - Reading Intensive (appropriate for students who wish to focus on writing one or more publishable scholarly papers in philosophy, whether in preparation for application to a Ph.D. program or for personal enrichment)

    PHIL 200-level course (on advisement; 3 units)
    PHIL 298 (directed reading; 3 units)***



Comprehensive Examination

You will take a comprehensive examination after you have completed most of your coursework. The exam is administered the third Friday of each semester.


* On approval, when relevance to the candidate’s degree can be demonstrated, up to 6 of the 30 units may be from prior post-baccalaureate coursework, or from coursework taken outside the Department during the MA program to provide a basis for work in an area of applied philosophy.

** One or more of 290, 291, 292, and 293 may be repeated as electives when the course content is different.

*** Fulfills University graduate requirement for “culminating experience.”