Official Course Catalog Description of the M.A. Degree
Master of Arts in Philosophy (code 5-6807)
The Department of Philosophy offers graduate study leading to the Master of Arts degree. The candidate must satisfy the general requirements stated in this Catalog as well as the specific departmental requirements described here and more fully in the Philosophy Graduate Student Handbook (available upon request). Applicants must submit to the University’s Office of Admissions and Records a graduate application (available at that office or on-line). Applicants must also submit two sets of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. One set must be submitted to the Office of Enrollment Services and another set must be sent directly to the Department of Philosophy. Prospective students should see the Graduate Advisor for assessment and to plan a program of study. Departmental reader positions are sometimes available for qualified persons, as are Graduate Assistantships. A reader works closely with a member of the faculty, but is not responsible for instruction. Application for these positions can be made to the Chair of the Philosophy Department.
Admission with classified status
An applicant may be admitted to the M.A. program in Philosophy in classified status (see the relevant sections in the Catalog under “Graduate and Post-baccalaureate Applicants”) only after satisfying University requirements for admission and the following prerequisites to this degree:
- A bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 24 units of upper division philosophy courses. These courses must be comparable to those required for the B.A. in philosophy at this University, and must indicate proficiency in the general areas of epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and symbolic logic. Deficiencies to be rectified will be determined by the Graduate Advisor after consultation with the student and after study of transcript records.
- Satisfactory performance on the Department’s Basic Qualifying Exam (BQE).
Admission with conditionally classified status
Until students have met the requirements for classified status they may be admitted and attend the university with conditionally classified status. Conditionally classified students who at entry to the philosophy program as a graduate student have been determined to have no deficiencies in prerequisite preparation must attempt the Basic Qualifying Exam (BQE) by the end of their second (academic year) semester in the program and pass it by the end of their third (academic year) semester in order to achieve classified status. Conditionally classified student who must rectify a deficiency must attempt the BQE by the end of their third (academic year) semester in the program and pass it by the end of their fourth (academic year) semester in order to achieve classified status. (Winter Term and Summer Session do not count as academic year semesters).
Basic Qualifying Exam
The BQE comprises two sections that assess the graduate student’s philosophical foundation and knowledge. There is a Text portion and an Analytic portion. The analytic section of the BQE assesses the student’s ability to extract, explain, and evaluate arguments from short passages. In reconstructing and evaluating these arguments, the student must demonstrate an understanding of basic logical concepts, such as validity, soundness, and cogency. The text section of the BQE assesses the student’s ability to read, interpret, and critically evaluate a more lengthy philosophical text. Successfully passing the text section also requires general philosophical and historical knowledge, insofar as these are relevant to the contextual understanding of the text.
Students may attempt one or both sections of the BQE on those occasions when it is administered. Normally, students must pass both parts of the BQE by their second attempt. The BQE must be passed in order for students to achieve classified status in the graduate program.
Advancement to Candidacy
Advancement to Candidacy is the next step after acquiring classified status (and cannot take place until then) and confers catalog rights to graduate students. Advancement to Candidacy also signifies approval of a plan of study by the student’s department and college. The requirements for advancement, which must be achieved at least one semester before graduation can occur and can only occur in a semester in which the student is enrolled, are:
- Fulfillment of the CSULB Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)
- The student must maintain a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average in all units undertaken in the philosophy program
- Approval of a program of study by the Graduate Advisor, and approval by the department faculty of either a thesis proposal or a proposed set of three comprehensive examinations (see the Graduate Student Handbook for details).
- Although there is no formal language requirement, the philosophy department may require the student to demonstrate a foreign language proficiency if a language proficiency is appropriate to the area of study.
Requirements for the degree
- The student’s graduate program must consist of not less than 30 units of acceptable upper division and graduate courses, of which at least 24 units must be in philosophy. The remaining 6 units must be chosen in conference with the student’s faculty advisor and may be taken either in philosophy or in another field of study closely related to the candidate’s educational objectives. The program must include a minimum of 18 units of philosophy graduate courses, with a minimum of 6 units from the 600 series. PHIL 697 and 698 may not count toward fulfillment of the 600 series minimum requirement. Undergraduate level courses in Philosophy do not count toward the MA degree requirements. However, under special circumstances and at the discretion of the Graduate Advisor, undergraduate level courses from outside the major may count toward the MA in Philosophy when such work is essential to the successful completion of the student’s proposed MA thesis or comprehensive examination preparation.
- A thesis and oral defense thereof, or a set of three comprehensive examinations.