M.A. in Philosophy

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.

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.

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. Visit the Office of Graduate Student Life for information on employment and assistantship opportunities on campus, as well as other resources. 

Why Our M.A. in Philosophy?


Students interested in applying for a Ph.D. will be paired with an academic advisor to assist their applications, under the form of a writing seminar, and feed- back on their portfolio from a faculty panel. 

Successful Ph.D. Acceptances

Graduates applied successfully to programs at Boston University, Brown, Columbia, Fordham, Georgetown, Loyola University of Chicago, Marquette, Notre Dame, Penn State, The New School for Social Research, Saint Louis, Temple, Vanderbilt, and Boston College.

Research Funds

Some funds are available to assist graduate students who are delivering papers at scholarly conferences. See also the section “Resources” in the M.A. Handbook.

Grad Opportunities

M.A. students (1) organize and participate in a Workshop on Contemporary Philosophy in the fall and a Graduate Student conference in the spring and (2) organize a Reader’s Series in cooperation with our faculty. 

Program Overview

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).

Required Courses: 

  • Ancient Philosophy 
  • Medieval Philosophy
  • Modern Philosophy

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:

  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
  2. OR receiving the grade of “B” or better in a language class for graduate students at Boston College
  3. OR 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 M.A. Handbook for more details.

Students must write and submit a research paper in addition to coursework, called a “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.

Previous Ph.D. Placements

Austin Burke, New School for Social Research (Philosophy)

Myles Casey, Pennsylvania State University (Philosophy, and possible Dual Title Doctorate degree with Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies)

Jared Highlen, Boston College (Philosophy)

Ryan A. Schwartz, University of Hawaii at Manoa (Philosophy)

Andrew Stanford, Duquesne University (Philosophy)

Austin Williams, Boston College (Philosophy)


Contact Us

For specific questions about the Philosophy department's graduate programs please contact the Graduate Program Assistant, Christopher Hanlon. All other requests on the application process should be made to the Graduate School at the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.