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Master's Program

The U offers a FUNDED Masters in Philosophy

Master’s degrees in philosophy have been used successfully by many students as a basis for entering Ph.D. programs at other universities or at the University of Utah.  They have been used in a variety of other ways as well by students pursuing careers in the legal, medical, or business professions, the sciences, or the humanities.  Recognizing this wide variety of student needs, the Philosophy Department endeavors to be as flexible and as helpful as possible in arranging individual programs for individual purposes, within the guidelines of the requirements listed below.

In addition to the Departmental Requirements noted in the Philosophy Graduate Handbook, please read the University requirements for the Master’s degree, which are officially listed on the Graduate School’s website

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MA/MS Departmental Requirements

For a complete list of Master’s Degree Requirements, please review the Graduate Handbook, pages 2-7.

Year of Graduate Study Conditions for remaining in Funding Eligible Standing
1 (1st and 2nd semesters)
  • Enroll in at least 9 hours of courses each semester. Maintain a high level of quality in all graduate work.
  • Active in classroom and in official Department activities (including graduate colloquia).
  • Enroll in PHIL 7020: Philosophical Traditions and PHIL 6920: Practicum.
  • Complete PHIL 7010: Proseminar, fall 1st time and GSQE
  • Master’s students should form a Supervisory Committee by the end of their 2nd semester.
2 (3rd and 4th semesters)
  • Complete PHIL 7010: Proseminar, fall 2nd time
  • Enroll in PHIL 7020: Philosophical Traditions and PHIL 6920: Practicum.
  • Enroll in at least 9 hours of classes
  • Maintain a high level of quality in all graduate work.
  • Be active in classroom and in official Department activities (including graduate colloquia).
  • Complete, Defend, & Submit Thesis or Best Paper
3-4 (5th and 6th semesters) ONLY IF NECESSARY
  • Enroll in 1-9 hours of courses (consult with Director of Graduate Studies each term to determine exact number of hours required)
  • Enroll in or attend PHIL 7020: Philosophical Traditions and PHIL 6920: Practicum (consult with Director of Graduate Studies each term to determine whether enrollment or attendance is required).
  • Be active in official Department activities (including graduate colloquia).
  • Complete, Defend, & Submit Thesis or Best Paper

How to maintain Minimal Acceptable Standing

  • Students must maintain minimum graduate GPA of 3.10
  • Complete all master’s degree requirements within 4 consecutive years of admission

How to maintain Funding Eligible Standing

Funding Eligible standing is normally required for initial eligibility for funding and for the presumption of continued funding.

At the time offered admission to the graduate program, students are issued a letter that states for how long and at what level the department proposes to fund the student’s studies, based on long-term departmental budgetary planning at the time the offer of admission is made. However, all student funding as outlined in such letters is contingent on the availability of funding: in case of unexpected fiscal shortfall, funding may not be available and the department shall not be obligated to fund students under such circumstances. The purpose of the “Funding Eligible Progress” or “Funding Eligible Standing” designation is to indicated to unfunded students that they are eligible to receive funding and to indicate to funded students that (in normal circumstances) they have the presumption of continuing funding (upon the availability of funds as described above. Failure to retain Funding Eligible standing is, therefore, a loss of this presumption (and not necessarily the loss of continuing funding).

       A student who fails to meet the conditions set out below shall have their “Funding Eligible” status reviewed by the Graduate Committee, upon which the Graduate Committee may issue guidance to the student, set conditions upon remaining in Funding Eligible standing, remove Funding Eligible standing or remove funding, as appropriate.

  • In the first two years (four semesters), complete at least 9 graduate level credit hours of coursework each semester (6000-7000 level courses)
  • In the first two years (four semesters), funded students are required to register for 12 credit hours each semester.
  • It is important that funded students register for 12 credit hours each semester. If not, expect to receive a tuition bill from Income Accounting for a large sum of money.

Sample Schedule for 12 credit hours

              *Sample schedule

  • PHIL 6920: Practicum for 1 credit hour
  • PHIL 7020: Philosophical Traditions for 2 credit hours
  • PHIL 6000 level course for 3 credit hours
  • PHIL 6000 or 7000 level course for 3 credit hours
  • PHIL 6000 or 7000 level course for 3 credit hours
  • Students must earn a B or better in all graduate level coursework, or their funding eligible status will come under review.

Students shall not have excessive incompletes (I grades). 2 is the maximum.

MA/MS students must form a supervisory committee by the end of their 1st year (2nd semester) to comply with graduate school regulations.

Supervisory committees for Master’s students must consist of three faculty members, the majority of whom must be tenure-line faculty in the Philosophy Department. An outside committee member is permitted but not required. For more details, see the Graduate School Website


Sumbit supervisory committee form to the graduate advisor, Connie Corbett by the end of your second semester.

MA/MS Supervisory Committee Form 


All students entering the program must take PHIL 7010: Proseminar, twice: once during their first fall semester and once during their second fall semester.

After completion of coursework, students must consult with the Director of Graduate Studies to ensure that they have completed their course requirements. To complete the degree, Master’s students are required to take a minimum of seven graduate Philosophy courses total, including three seminars (7000 level classes), two of which must be PHIL 7010: Proseminar.

Thesis Seeking Master’s Students
30 credit hours total

  • 24 credit hours of coursework
  • 6 credit hours of PHIL 6970: Thesis Research

Non-Thesis Seeking Master’s Students
30 credit hours total

30 credit hours of philosophy coursework

Transfer Credit, Non-Matriculated or Undergraduate Hours, and Departmental Course Waivers

Graduate Handbook (page 7)

Transfer Credit – Students may petition to have graduate-level credit hours completed at another institution, up to a maximum of 6 hours, applied towards the graduate degree, but only if they were completed with a letter grade of B or higher, were not used to obtain another degree, and were taken within certain time limits as specified by the Graduate School. To petition, students must obtain approval from the Graduate Committee, and the department’s Graduate Advisor will then send the petition to the Graduate School.

Students whose petitions are successful will have the credit hours/courses counted toward the required hours of coursework/numbers of courses, but will not automatically have those credit hours/courses counted toward fulfilling specific field requirements. For the latter, students must submit a separate petition to the Philosophy Department Graduate Committee


All entering students must demonstrate undergraduate capability in logic. Entering students should have a grade of B or better in an undergraduate deductive logic class that covered proof theory for propositional and predicate calculus. (Any student lacking an undergraduate background in logic will be required to take our undergraduate deductive logic course, PHIL 3200, for graduate credit.) Each student must then meet the graduate formal methods course requirements by passing PHIL 6200 or another graduate level course with formal content with a grade of B or better. Eligible courses include 6000-level courses in Decision Theory, Game Theory, Probability Theory, and so on. (PAGE 5, section 4 or Graduate Handbook)

Each Master’s degree student must complete at least three Philosophy courses at the 7000-level as part of their course of study, including PHIL 7010 (see fulfill Proseminar Requirement). Students may substitute 6000-level courses for 7000-level courses only upon the recommendation of the student’s Supervisory Committee and the approval of the Graduate Committee. Note: 6910: Individual Research and 6970: MA/MS Thesis Research will not fulfill the Seminar Requirement.

Note - The MS degree has no language requirement

              The MA degree requires standard proficiency in one approved foreign language. French and German are the approved languages for Philosophy; the Supervisory Committee may approve another for a particular student if the language is relevant to his/her research.

Standard proficiency is established by:

  • showing that one is a native speaker of the language
  • by registering for and passing a standardized MLA examination (administered by the University Testing Center) with a score of 67 or better.
  • by passing a second semester language class with a grade of B or better.

Where the requirement is satisfied by coursework, the student must obtain a certification form, in person, from the Academic Advisor, in the Department of World Languages and Cultures within five years of completing the course used to satisfy the requirement. Currently, obtaining the certification is the personal responsibility of the student. It cannot be obtained for the student by staff of the Philosophy Department.

Standard Proficiency is established by World Languages & Cultures. (Academic Advising)

Thesis or Non- Thesis Options

Thesis Option – Requires an oral defense of the thesis. The examination should be scheduled only when the thesis is essentially completed and the student’s thesis advisor has agreed that the thesis is ready to be defended. The Supervisory Committee schedules and announces a public oral examination at which the candidate must defend the thesis. The length and content of the oral examination are determined by the thesis Supervisory Committee. All members of the committee must participate in the oral defense. The Department requires that the thesis advisor and the other members of the committee must receive a copy of the thesis 4 weeks before the final oral examination. After the oral presentation, a question and answer period must be allowed. At the conclusion of the public participation, the committee may excuse the public and conduct further questioning on the thesis and related topics.

Non-Thesis or Best Paper Option – For the non-thesis Master’s degree a paper that is written at the University of Utah, for one of our tenure-line faculty (or, with approval from the Graduate Committee, distinguished visiting faculty who have tenure-line appointments at their home university), and ideally the paper should have received an “A” for a graduate seminar. The best paper will be reviewed by the student’s Supervisory Committee. Students MUST be registered for 1 credit hour when completing their thesis or best paper. See Minimum Continuous Registration

MA/MS Department and Graduate School Required Paperwork

Students are responsible for filing these forms with the Graduate Advisor in a timely manner so that their student records can be updated and the student will not fall out of compliance with the Graduate School.  Forms need to be submitted to the Graduate Advisor one week before the Graduate School deadline. Graduate School Calendar

Students can track their progress online through the Graduate Tracking System (GTS). It is the student’s responsibility to make sure the information online is accurate.

Students who applied for and were admitted to the Master’s program may request a transfer from the MA/MS program to the Doctoral program. Such requests are evaluated by the Graduate Committee. Students must demonstrate that they are capable of completing PhD level coursework. Their Master’s work to date must be exemplary and they must not have any incomplete grades (I) on their student record. Students must turn in a request form along with the online application materials via Apply Yourself by the deadline of January 15.

Materials to Submit

  • Unofficial transcript
  • 3 faculty-written Letters of Recommendation

Normally such students who are granted a transfer in this manner will be expected to finish their Master’s degree. Such transfers are not pro-forma and an application for a transfer should be viewed as equivalent to an application to the PhD program.

Some students who apply for the PhD program may be admitted as Master’s students. Some of these students will be eligible for automatic transfer to the PhD program after 2 years, without going through the application procedures described above, if they have maintained funding eligible status and have completed most of the required coursework for the PhD. Students will be notified at the time of being offered admission to the program whether they are eligible for such an automatic transfer. Such student’s will not be expected to finish the Master’s degree. 


Last Updated: 1/10/24