The Department of Philosophy offers M.A. and Ph.D. programs. These programs provide a strong emphasis on the history of philosophy (ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary) and a special focus on Continental philosophy from Kant to the present. Faculty also teach and conduct research in metaphysics, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, ethics, aesthetics, and social and political philosophy. Students have considerable flexibility in designing programs of study and have access to the resources of Political Science, Theology, and other departments. If a desired course is not offered, it may be possible to arrange a Readings and Research course on the desired topic (please consult with the appropriate professor if you wish to do so). The department also participates in a Joint M.A. Program in Philosophy and Theology, a Law and Philosophy Dual Degree Program, and an M.A. program in Philosophy, Law, and Policy (see below).
Admission to the doctoral program is highly selective (about five admitted each year from over 150 applicants). Doctoral studies are funded for five years in the form of tuition remission, Research Assistantship and Teaching Fellowship, and a University Fellowship in the last year for the writing of the dissertation free of any other duty. Doctoral students are expected to pursue the degree on a full-time basis and to maintain satisfactory progress toward the completion of degree requirements.
The M.A. program may be taken on a full-time (two years) or part-time basis (five years maximum). Financial aid and tuition remission are not normally available for students seeking the M.A.
All applicants are strongly encouraged to submit the results of the Graduate Record Examination. Students who speak a native language other than English must provide evidence of English proficiency. A score of 100 or higher on the TOEFL iBT test or 7.0 or higher on the IELTS test is required. TOEFL and IELTS scores are considered valid from exams taken a maximum of two years prior to application program deadlines.
For more information on the programs, please consult our website at bc.edu/philosophy.
M.A. Program Requirements
Requirements for the M.A. are as follows:
- Ten courses (30 credits)
- Proficiency in one foreign language
- Qualifying research paper
It is possible, though not common, for students to write an M.A. thesis in place of two courses (six credits).
Ph.D. Program Requirements
Requirements for the Ph.D. are as follows:
- One year of full-time residence
- Sixteen courses (48 credits)
- Proficiency in logic (tested by course or by examination)
- Proficiency in two foreign languages
- One hour and fifteen-minute oral Preliminary comprehensive examination
- Doctoral comprehensive examination
- Oral defense of the dissertation
- Students entering the program with an M.A. in philosophy may be credited with six courses (18 credits) toward the Ph.D.
The Preliminary comprehensive exam is a one hour and fifteen-minute oral examination on a reading list in the history of philosophy, and it is to be taken at the end of the student’s first year. The Doctoral comprehensive exam has two components: writing and oral defense of a qualifying paper; submission and oral defense of a dissertation prospectus. They are to be completed no later than the student’s fourth year.
Joint M.A. Program in Philosophy and Theology
The Joint M.A. program is administered collectively between the Philosophy and Theology departments. It is structured around distinct concentrations which address major areas of common concern, such as faith and science, philosophy and religion, foundations in Philosophy and Theology, and Medieval Philosophy and Theology. The degree program has two directors representing each department. Students develop a program of study in discussion with an academic advisor and take courses in the standard graduate programs offered by the Philosophy and Theology departments.
Law and Philosophy Dual Degree Program
These programs are designed for students interested in philosophy of law, legal theory, and jurisprudence, and may eventually wish to go into legal practice or teaching in those fields. Students may complete their master’s in philosophy and law degree in four years of joint study or Ph.D. and law degree in seven. Students must apply to both Boston College Law School and master’s or Ph.D. program in Boston College Philosophy Department and be admitted in both.
M.A. Program in Philosophy, Law, and Policy
For students interested in relating theory and practice, the M.A. program in Philosophy, Law and Policy offers the opportunity to address policy questions in an integrated way. As a collaboration between the Morrisey College of Arts and Sciences, the Law School, the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, and the School of Theology and Ministry, and housed in the Department of Philosophy, the program provides students with a foundational core in philosophy, law, and social science. In consultation with a program advisor, students then focus their own paths of inquiry by choosing electives across the participating schools and departments.
The Lonergan Institute
Studies related to the work of Jesuit theologian and philosopher Bernard Lonergan (1904–1984) are sponsored by the Lonergan Institute at Boston College. The Institute supports the renowned Lonergan Workshop and other conferences, scholarship assistance, and operates the Lonergan Center, a center for research with an extensive collection of published and unpublished works. For more information, refer to the Research Centers in the “About Boston College” section of this catalog or to the website: bc.edu/lonergan.