Carnegie Mellon University

M.A. Program in Philosophy

The M.A. Program in Philosophy provides exciting opportunities to pursue post-graduate studies in Philosophy for students with a degree in Philosophy who wish to continue their work in a more focused and advanced way, as well as for students with a degree in another field who wish to add a concentration in Philosophy. Two areas of specialization are offered in line with the distinctive strengths of the Philosophy Department that are not reflected in its other graduate degree programs, namely Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, and Philosophy of Science. The latter specialization offers emphases in Mathematics, Psychology, Physics, and the Social Sciences. The course of study is very flexible, and can be tailored to a student's interests and background.

Both Master’s degrees are designed to be completed in two years of study.  Students on the thesis track often take into the summer after their second year to finish their thesis. In some circumstances, students will take an extra semester to finish their thesis.  While discouraged, this is allowed.  Students must complete their coursework within two years unless they receive permission from the department.

Philosophical Areas:

In the course requirements we refer to “philosophical areas.”  For the purpose of this document the five philosophical areas are:

  • Area 1: Philosophy of Science, Methodology, and Epistemology
  • Area 2: Value Theory
  • Area 3: History of Philosophy
  • Area 4: Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language, Linguistics, and Metaphysics
  • Area 5: Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic

Course Requirements: Philosophy

The program's course requirements are designed to provide students with a shared introduction to basic tools of philosophical analysis, a shared background of philosophical issues, significant interdisciplinary competence, and an introduction to research topics in the department.

Core requirements

  • 80-600 Philosophy Core Seminar: Survey of crucial research in philosophy, logic, and related areas (12 units)
  • 80-602 Philosophy Core Seminar II: Continued survey of crucial research in philosophy, logic, and related areas (12 units)
  • 80-811 Professional development seminar: This class is for professional development of masters and PhD students in the philosophy department. All students who are in their first three years of graduate programs should enroll in this course. (6 units x 2)
  • One course from each of the five philosophical areas (12 units x 5)

Philosophy electives

  • Course-based option: Two graduate level courses in philosophy (12 units x 2)
  • Thesis option: Two courses of thesis research (Var. units x 2)

Interdisciplinary elective

An interdisciplinary elective, e.g. in logic, computer science, statistics, game theory, linguistics, economics, or psychology, to develop formal skills that will support thesis research. These courses need to be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Suitable courses include:

  • 10-701 Machine Learning (12 units)
  • 15-210 Parallel and Sequential Data Structures and Algorithms (12 units)
  • 21-603 Model Theory I (12 units)
  • 85-719 Introduction to Parallel Distributed Processing (12 units)
  • 85-765 Cognitive Neuroscience (12 units)

Additional courses

Two additional graduate level courses (12 units x 2)

The department's interdisciplinary research thrust affords an unusually broad range of career possibilities. Graduates of the program have been offered positions in Philosophy, Mathematics, Psychology, Computer Science, and Statistics, as well as research positions in industry. This wide range of interesting career opportunities reflects the department's unique dedication to serious, interdisciplinary research ties.

For a complete listing of our graduates and placement record, see our Masters alumni page.

The Philosophy Department offers qualified M.A./M.S. students up to a 50% tuition fellowship, added to whatever outside fellowships or other tuition awards the student has gained on her or his own. In addition, qualified M.A./M.S. students have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants or graders for undergraduate courses, for a stipend rate set annually by the department. In the 2023-2024 academic year, M.A./M.S. students can earn a $5,000 stipend for grading one course or a $6,000 stipend for serving as a TA.