Jun 18, 2024  
2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
2022-2023 Academic Catalog [Published Catalog]

Philosophy (M.A.)

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Mission and Goals

The mission statement of the M.A. program in Philosophy (reflecting those of the Department and the University) is as follows:

Engaging in graduate study in philosophy is to engage in a process of coming to understand one’s self and one’s place in the world. The M.A. in Philosophy is devoted to this endeavor through its content and form. It engages students in asking questions about the possibility of knowledge, the nature of morality, beauty and aesthetic experience, the meaning of religious experience, the justification and limits of power, and the purpose and meaning of philosophical inquiry itself. And it holds that to be successful in this enquiry clear and careful thinking, the ability to question deeply held assumptions and attitudes, and a commitment to sound reasoning and careful appraisal of evidence is needed.

The goal of the M.A. in Philosophy is therefore to offer the highest quality liberal arts education to our graduate students. Philosophy postgraduates will finish this M.A. program with an in-depth knowledge of the professional discipline as well as the detailed understanding of the history of ideas more generally. This entails rigorous training in rational and critical thought, the close reading and interpretation of some of the history of philosophy’s most challenging texts, exemplary intellectual responsibility, and the ability to clearly and effectively present the results of independently conducted research within the form of a M.A. thesis.

In the words of the executive director of the American Philosophical Association, “The skills that philosophy teaches you are wonderfully transferable.” Our program aims at teaching students advanced philosophical skills, which they will be able to usefully apply either within the context of a future professional career of or as preparation for entering a Ph.D. program at another institution. Students often register for graduate study in Philosophy because of their love of the discipline, rather than for any utilitarian purpose.

Nonetheless, a background in Philosophy can be professionally beneficial, insofar as employers and professional schools have become increasingly aware over the last couple of decades that philosophers tend to have the best training in thinking and writing, and are open and flexible.


The M.A. in Philosophy is aimed at any undergraduate with a background in the study of philosophy. A minimum of twenty-four graduate hours are required.

Eight courses must be taken, at least six of which must be taken within the Department of Philosophy at the 5000 level. Students are required to follow the Philosophy Graduate Core, a series of advanced 5000 level seminars. Two such 5000 level seminars are taught each semester. The Department also offers a series of electives: a select number of undergraduate courses that can also be taken at the 5000 level.

A maximum of two courses may be taken within other departments at AUC, at either the 4000 or 5000 level but only with the Chair’s approval. Students who are not native speakers of Arabic and who wish to write a thesis within the sphere of Islamic Philosophy will be strongly encouraged to elect for credit at least one of the courses (at an appropriate level) offered by the Department of Arabic Language Instruction (ALI). Although AUC does not currently offer formal instruction in modern European language, students intending to write a thesis within the sphere of Continental Philosophy will be required to have a basic reading knowledge of either French or German. Any student who wishes to write a thesis in the sphere of Continental Philosophy but who lacks such knowledge is strongly encouraged to privately arrange some tuition outside of AUC.

Before commencing work upon the thesis students will be required to write a thesis proposal. The thesis itself should take the form of a research paper of approximately 15,000 words in length. There will also be a final defense of the finished thesis.

The Philosophy Graduate Program Director organizes a series of (non-credit) seminars at the beginning of every academic year, which all graduate students are expected to attend in order to ensure that they possess the research and academic writing skills requisite for tackling the thesis (PHIL 5299 ). This training will be further reinforced by the course requirements for the Department’s Philosophy Graduate Core courses, in which the students are required to find and engage with relevant secondary literature and write in a highly professional manner for the papers upon which they are examined.

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