Master's Program

Requirements for the M.A. are as follows: ten courses (30 credits), proficiency in one foreign language, and a one hour and fifteen minute oral comprehensive examination on a reading list in the history of philosophy. The M.A. may be taken on a full time basis or on a part time basis. Financial aid and tuition remission are not normally available for students seeking an M.A.

The Department offers courses intended exclusively for graduate students (700-800-900 levels) as well as courses intended both for undergraduate and graduate students (500-699 levels). Both sorts of courses may be applied to the fulfillment of the requirement of ten courses (30 credits). With department approval, students may also take appropriate graduate level courses in other departments of Boston College and by consortial arrangement in other schools and universities (cf. Cross Registration, under Procedures and Regulations). Students may apply for transfer credit for two graduate courses taken prior to entrance to the program and not applied to another degree program, subject to department approval and the regulations of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (cf. Transfer of Credit).

In each graduate course in which a student is registered for graduate credit, the student will receive one of the following grades at the end of the semester: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C, F, W, J, U, P, or I. The high passing grade of A is awarded for superior work. The passing grade of B is awarded for work that clearly is satisfactory at the graduate level. The low passing grade of C is awarded for work that is minimally acceptable at the graduate level. The failing grade of F is awarded for work that is unsatisfactory.

Students will be evaluated as making excellent, good, satisfactory, or poor progress toward completion of the degree. Any student who accumulates two or more Incompletes for course work will automatically be regarded as making poor progress toward the degree. Any student who accumulates two or more grades of C will also be regarded as making poor progress toward the degree. Any such student must meet immediately with the Director of the Graduate Program. Students judged to be making poor progress will be given specific directions for what they must accomplish in the next year in order to continue in the program beyond the following year. Students can be removed from the program after being evaluated as having made poor academic progress for two years. See Evaluation Policies & Procedures for Graduate Students.

A student who has not completed the research or written work for a course taken in the fall or spring semester or is absent from the course examination in either semester, may, with adequate reason at the discretion of the instructor, receive a temporary grade of Incomplete (I). All such I grades will automatically be changed to F on March 1 for the fall, August 1 for the spring, and October 1 for the summer.

A J grade is recorded when the grade is deferred. A faculty member may only assign a grade of J for courses that continue beyond the normal semester period. Such courses may include Internship, Dissertation Direction, and Student Teaching.

A U grade is recorded for ungraded courses such as doctoral continuation.

Graduate students who withdraw from a course after the drop/add period (first seven days of the semester) will have a “W” recorded in the grade column of their academic record.

The M.A. student must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language, Latin, Greek, French, or German. Proficiency may be demonstrated by receiving a grade of “B” or better in two semesters of the language at the elementary college level or one semester at the intermediate college level, in the 12-week summer language class for graduate students at Boston College, or by passing the department’s own language examination. For further information on the language exam please consult Professor Peter Kreeft.

A student may write a M.A. thesis in place of two courses (six credits). Students writing a Master’s thesis must register for two semesters of PL801 Master’s Thesis. It is the responsibility of the student to secure a thesis supervisor and second reader and to prepare a thesis proposal. A copy of the proposal and the names of the supervisor and second reader must be presented to the Director of Graduate Studies prior to registering for PL801 Master’s Thesis.

The M.A. candidate is required to take a one-hour and fifteen minute oral exam before a board of four professors. This examination is scheduled the semester in which all course work and the language requirement have been fulfilled. The examination covers selected texts from the history of philosophy (cf. the M.A. Comprehensive Reading List). This examination is regularly administered in the week after the University Commencement. For good reasons a student may apply to take the examination at another time. Students sign up for the examination by completing the Master’s Comprehensive Examination Selection Sheet on line and print out and submit it to RoseMarie DeLeo. A failed examination may be retaken only once.

The M.A. candidate is permitted five consecutive years from the date of acceptance into the program for completion of all requirements for the Master’s degree. Extensions are permitted only with the approval of the department and of the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Please note: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences site links to academic university or school policies and procedures.