Master of Arts (MA) Programs

Master of Arts Programs: Policies and Requirements

Philosophy offers two concentrations in our MA Program: The MA (Philosophy) and the MA (Philosophy of Science Concentration, abbreviated ‘Philosophy of Science’).

MA (Philosophy)

The requirements for the Master of Arts (Philosophy) program are as follows:

  • Seven courses in Philosophy.
  • The remaining two courses must reflect philosophical traditions from different geographical regions (e.g., South Asian or East Asian philosophy) and/or distinct historical periods (e.g., medieval or twentieth-century philosophy).
  • At least two courses in Contemporary Problems of Philosophy, in distinct areas from among the following three:
  1. Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Science
  2. Mind, Language, and Logic
  3. Values (including ethics, metaethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of religion)
  • In the fall term and again in the winter, one graduate course will be designated for MA (Philosophy) students only. All full-time MA (Philosophy) students will be required to take these courses. (One will be in the broad area of ethics/politics and the other in the broad area of M&E. Either could be historical.)
  • Students will also be required to enrol in PHL3000H, the MA Professional Development Seminar, restricted to MA students. The course will meet 4 times during the fall term, generally led by a different member of faculty each time, and count as one of the 7 courses needed for the degree. Students will discuss issues about the graduate research, teaching, and the profession and its norms and expectations. The course will be graded as CR (Credit), or NCR (Non-Credit).
  • Students may take up to two terms of Independent Studies Courses as part of the degree. These must be done with a faculty member of the Department, and only when suitable regular courses are not available.
  • With the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies, an MA student may count one course in another graduate unit at the University of Toronto toward their degree.
  • The student’s choice of courses must be approved by the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies.

MA (Philosophy of Science)

The requirements for the Master of Arts (Philosophy of Science) program are as follows:

  • Seven courses in Philosophy.
  • In the fall term, PHL2198H: Advanced Introduction to Philosophy of Science, will be offered. All full-time MA students (Philosophy of Science) will be required to take this course. The course will provide an introduction to contemporary work in philosophy of science.
  • Three additional graduate seminars in philosophy of science or cognate areas of philosophy such as logic, philosophy of language, epistemology, metaphysics, or philosophy of mind.
  • Two graduate courses in the history of science from the following: HPS2000H, HPS2001H, HPS2003H, HPS2004H, HPS2007H, HPS2008H, HPS2009H, HPS 3010H, HPS4101H, HPS4105H.
  • Students will also be required to enrol in PHL3000H, the MA Professional Development Seminar, restricted to MA students. The course will meet 4 times during the fall term, generally led by a different member of faculty each time, and count as one of the 7 courses needed for the degree. Students will discuss issues about the graduate research, teaching, and the profession and its norms and expectations. The course will be graded as CR (Credit), or NCR (Non-Credit).
  • Students may take one term of Independent Studies as part of the degree as a replacement for one of the three additional philosophy graduate seminars. This must be done with a faculty member of the Department, and only when a suitable regular course is not available.
  • The student’s choice of courses must be approved by the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies.

See our Master’s concentration in Philosophy of Science brochure for more information.

The following apply to both MA programs:

Faculty Advisors

Faculty program advisors are a resource for students: you can ask questions or get advice beyond formal relationships with academic administrators and your peers, and begin building your network. Key points:

  • Faculty program advisors and students will be matched prior to the beginning of the Fall term according to research interests and availability as much as possible.
  • Advisors will reach out to students sometime in August to schedule a 30-45-minute meeting before Orientation and the beginning of classes. This meeting can be in person or online.
  • There are no formal rules for this first check-in meeting, but it serves to help orient students to the department and can even be a place for informal guidance on course selection. More formal information sessions about the rules and regulations of coursework and requirements will already have taken place between the student and the director of graduate studies at that point.
  • Faculty program advisors and students check in one more time with each other in the first semester, usually in November. Of course more frequent meetings are possible if both parties wish.
  • If students apply for travel grants or the like during their course of study, faculty program advisors will sign these forms.

Graduate Student Peer Mentors

Graduate student mentors provide another informal resource for incoming students to help orient themselves to the department, the university, and life as a graduate student in Toronto. Students are matched as best as possible according to research interests and can take any form both sides find most helpful. Graduate student mentors might share experiences or resources—or might simply make for the first new friend in the department to have coffee with. In our experience, the relationship has proven valuable and enjoyable for both mentor and mentee.

Master of Arts (MA) Times to Completion

It is possible for a full-time student to complete all requirements for the MA degree in philosophy in two terms. However, the department encourages MA students to take no more than three courses during the fall and winter sessions and to complete the remaining course work during the summer session. Part-time enrolment in the MA program is permitted, in which case the requirements for the degree must be completed within five academic years.

Grading and Deadlines

Courses taken for graduate credit are assigned a letter grade according to the following scheme: A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, and FZ. Deadlines for course work, as set by the Department and the School of Graduate Studies, apply to all students taking philosophy courses, regardless of the department, centre, institute, school, program, or university in which they are enrolled.

The instructor in each course is required to inform the students in writing of the deadlines for course work at the first meeting of the course. Such deadlines must be within the framework set each year by the School of Graduate Studies for submission of grades.  For additional information about extensions, see the Policy on Departmental Coursework Extensions in the Policies and Procedures section of this website.