The M.A. program in philosophy at Boston College offers students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the history of philosophy and to work on topics as diverse as, for instance, Aristotelian naturalism, Medieval theories of language, Kantian views of space and time, theories of race, and contemporary debates at the intersection of science, ethics, law, and religion.
The majority of students who enroll do so with an eye to applying to Ph.D. programs at the beginning of their second year. Students have an adviser and receive help for the preparation of their applications, under the form of a writing seminar, and feed- back on their portfolio from a faculty panel. The M.A. program has a dedicated coordinator (currently, Prof. Vanessa Rumble). Graduates have been successful in applying to doctoral programs such as Boston University, Brown, Columbia, Fordham, Georgetown, Loyola University of Chicago, Marquette, Notre Dame, The New School for Social Research, Saint Louis, Temple, Vanderbilt, and also to the department own doctoral program. See the record below.
Because advanced training in philosophy develops skills in rigorous reasoning, clear analysis, writing and oral communication, a master’s degree can also be helpful to students who want to pursue a career in fields as diverse as law, publishing, political sciences, administration, human resources, economics, consulting, applied ethics, among others. See examples here.
Each year, M.A. students contribute in vital ways to the intellectual life of the department by (1) organizing and participating in a Workshop on Contemporary Philosophy in the fall and a Graduate Student conference in the spring and (2) organizing a Reader’s Series in cooperation with our faculty. Some funds are available to assist graduate students who are delivering papers at scholarly conferences. See also the section “Resources” in the Graduate Studies Handbook.
The M.A. may be taken on a full time basis (normally two years) or on a part time basis (five years maximum). The department is not able to offer tuition remission or stipends. Some employment and assistantship opportunities are available on campus, as well as other resources (see The Office of Graduate Student Life).
The Department offers courses intended exclusively for graduate students (7000-8000-9000 levels) as well as courses intended both for undergraduate and graduate students (5000-6000 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. 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. M.A. candidates are permitted five consecutive years from the date of acceptance into the program for completion of all requirements for the Master’s degree.
M.A. candidates must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language of their choice by 1. having received a grade of “B” or better in two semesters of a language class at the elementary college level or one semester at the intermediate college level, or 2. receiving the grade of “B” or better in a language class for graduate students at Boston College, or 3. depending on the language, passing the department’s own language examination. Students may take a language course at Boston College at a reduced rate of tuition. Language courses do not count towards the philosophy coursework requirement.
A student may write a M.A. thesis in place of two courses (six credits). See the Graduate Studies Handbook for more details.
In addition to their course work, the students must write and submit a research paper, called “qualifying paper,” on a topic of their choice. It should be between 7,000 and 10,000 words long. One of its goals is to use it as a possible writing sample in Ph.D. applications. See the Graduate Studies Handbook for more details.
Placement of M.A. Students in Ph.D. Programs
Austin Burke: New School for Social Research (Philosophy); was also admitted to University of Hawaii at Manoa (Philosophy) and SIU Carbondale.
Myles Casey: Pennsylvania State University (Philosophy, and possible Dual Title Doctorate degree with Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies); was also accepted to Fordham University and Marquette University, waitlisted at DePaul University and Loyola University of Chicago.
Jared Highlen: Boston College (Philosophy)
Ryan A. Schwartz: University of Hawaii at Manoa (Philosophy); was also admitted to SIU Carbondale.
Andrew Stanford: Duquesne University (Philosophy); also admitted to University of Western Ontario’s Theory & Criticism PhD, and waitlisted at Villanova.
Austin Williams: Boston College (Philosophy)
Joe Carroll: Saint Louis University (Philosophy); also waitlisted at Baylor University
Greg Convertito: DePaul University (Philosophy); also accepted to University of Oregon, and waitlisted at Emory University and Villanova university
Michael Pope: Boston College (Philosophy); also accepted to Baylor University
Brent Smith: Fordham University (Philosophy)
Zachary Willcutt: Boston College (Philosophy)