Department of Philosophy and Classics

The Department of Philosophy and Classics offers the Master of Arts degree in Philosophy.

Master of Arts Degree in Philosophy

The Master of Arts degree in Philosophy offers students the opportunity for advanced study in a traditional Philosophy program. The course sequence aims at providing students with a broad background in philosophy, while honing students’ philosophical skills to include rigorous thinking, the ability to give coherent arguments for one's own position, and to communicate reasoned arguments clearly and compellingly. The curriculum is flexible enough to encourage broad inquiry in discovery, critical thinking, applied philosophy, and creative enterprise for students. The M.A. program is intended for students who wish to develop an advanced competence in Philosophy prior to pursuit of the J.D., a further Ph.D. degree, or employment in and outside of academia. Students can develop the knowledge and skills in philosophy that are requisite for success at the highest levels of graduate work, as well as success in leadership, scholarship, and/or creative endeavors in business, the public sector, or non-profit environments.

Program Admission Requirements

In addition to satisfying the University-wide graduate admission requirements, all applicants (including non-degree-seeking students) are required to complete the Graduate School online graduate application for admission to the Masters of Arts program in Philosophy and must also submit GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, and a 500–750 word statement of intent.  The Department strongly recommends each applicant submit a writing sample. Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of demonstrated potential for success in graduate study in Philosophy as indicated by a combination of prior undergraduate academic performance, the statement of intent, research interests, letters of recommendation, GRE test scores, and writing sample (optional). Admission is competitive. Satisfying minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

GRE Test Scores: The Department uses GRE scores as only one of the many factors taken into consideration when evaluating applications. GRE scores are required for each applicant, and must also be submitted to the Graduate School.

Letters of Recommendation: Two letters of recommendation preferably from faculty who have worked closely with the applicant in either the classroom, laboratory, or other research site.

Statement of Intent: Please submit a 500–750 word, well-thought-out statement indicating why the M.A. program in Philosophy is a good fit for applicant's professional goals, and why applicant is a good fit for the Department. The statement should include information on:

  • coursework and other relevant experiences that prepared the applicant for graduate work in Philosophy,
  • particular research interests of the applicant,
  • how that applicant’s academic interests match with faculty, departmental and university resources,
  • UTSA Philosophy faculty who may be suitable advisors
  • how a graduate degree in Philosophy will further the applicant’s professional and personal goals.

Writing Sample (optional): The Department strongly recommends that each applicant include a writing sample. The most effective writing samples demonstrate both that the applicant is a good writer and that the applicant has suitable potential as a philosophy graduate student. The Department prefers writing samples that are no longer than 20 pages in length.

Applications will not be reviewed until complete. Applicants may select to apply as either a degree-seeking, special graduate, or non-degree-seeking student. A graduate degree-seeking applicant admitted to the program may receive unconditional, conditional, or probationary admission status. Special graduate student and non-degree-seeking student status may be limited in the courses they are permitted. Admission with non-degree-seeking or special graduate student status does not ensure subsequent admission as degree-seeking student.

Degree Requirements

The minimum number of semester credit hours required for this degree is 30 (thesis), or 33 (non-thesis). In addition to the University’s general requirements for graduate study and any coursework or other study required as a condition of admission, the Master of Arts degree in Philosophy requires the following:

Thesis Option

The minimum number of semester credit hours required for this degree is 30 (thesis). In addition to the University’s general requirements for graduate study and any coursework or other study required as a condition of admission, the Master of Arts degree in Philosophy requires the following:

A. 6 semester credit hours of required basic courses:6
Logic
Advanced Logic
Philosophical Writing and Research
B. Select one of the following history courses, depending on the student’s area of interest:3
Ancient Philosophy
Modern Philosophy
Nineteenth Century Philosophy
Contemporary Analytic Philosophy
Contemporary Continental Philosophy
C. Select one of the following general philosophy electives, depending on the student’s area of interest:3
Ethical Theory
Epistemology
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Language
Social and Political Philosophy
D. Select one of the following specialized advanced topics in philosophy, depending on the student’s area of interest:3
Advanced Topics in Applied Ethics
Special Studies in Philosophy
E. 9 semester credit hours of electives selected in consultation with Graduate Advisor9
F. Master's Thesis:6
Master’s Thesis
Total Credit Hours30

Nonthesis Option

The minimum number of semester credit hours required for this degree is 33 (non-thesis). In addition to the University’s general requirements for graduate study and any coursework or other study required as a condition of admission, the Master of Arts degree in Philosophy requires the following:

A. 6 semester credit hours of required basic courses:6
Logic
Advanced Logic
Philosophical Writing and Research
B. Select one of the following history courses, depending on the student’s area of interest:3
Ancient Philosophy
Modern Philosophy
Nineteenth Century Philosophy
Contemporary Analytic Philosophy
Contemporary Continental Philosophy
C. Select one of the following general philosophy electives, depending on the student’s area of interest:3
Ethical Theory
Epistemology
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Language
Social and Political Philosophy
D. Select one of the following specialized advanced topics in philosophy, depending on the student’s area of interest:3
Advanced Topics in Applied Ethics
Special Studies in Philosophy
E. 12 semester credit hours of electives selected in consultation with Graduate Advisor12
F. Internship:6
Internship
Total Credit Hours33

Comprehensive Examination

In addition to the semester credit hour requirements set forth above, all candidates for the degree are required to pass the comprehensive examination. The examination will be administered once the student has successfully completed 18 semester credit hours as well as PHI 5033 Philosophical Writing and Research and either PHI 5003 Logic or PHI 5013 Advanced Logic. Satisfactory performance on the comprehensive examination is required prior to enrollment in either thesis or internship credits.

Philosophy (PHI) Courses

PHI 5003. Logic. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. This course aims to give students a strong grounding in the logical skills required for advanced philosophical study, focusing on first order logic with identity and introducing students to selected other relevant topics as appropriate, such as extensions to first order logic (e.g., modal, temporal, deontic logics), metalogic, set theory, probability theory or other topics of both logical and philosophical interest (e.g., counterfactuals). May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

PHI 5013. Advanced Logic. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. Rigorous definitions of syntax and semantics. Proofs of soundness and completeness of sentential and predicate logics; other topics in metatheory. May include extensions of and alternatives to classical logic and the philosophical significance of logic and metalogical results. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

PHI 5023. Ethical Theory. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. Advanced study of ethical theories and the nature and scope of ethical requirements, value, virtue, duty and moral responsibility. Advanced study may emphasize specific approaches to ethics such as consequentialist, deontological, virtue theoretic, and contractarian or specific metaethical issues such as ethics and rationality. Readings will include selected classical and contemporary texts.

PHI 5033. Philosophical Writing and Research. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing. The course aims to enhance philosophical reading, critical evaluation and writing skills; it aims further to help develop techniques in research and refine oral communication and presentation skills.

PHI 5113. Ancient Philosophy. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. In-depth investigation of central figures and/or topics in ancient philosophy. Study may focus on a few major philosophical figures in the ancient world from the time of the pre-Socratics through to the Hellenistic and Neo-Platonic schools. Topics may include the nature of reality, theories of truth, ethical theories, psychological issues, political theory, or issues in logic and theories of meaning.

PHI 5123. Modern Philosophy. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. Advanced study of major figures in modern philosophy such as Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant. Discussion may focus on the seminal work of one of more major thinkers such as the Meditations, Critique of Pure Reason, Ethics, or Theodicy.

PHI 5133. Nineteenth Century Philosophy. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

High-level examination of some of the major figures and topics in nineteenth-century philosophy and its intellectual background, including (but not limited to) these figures: Kant, Maimon, Bentham, Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx, Mill, Nietzsche, Peirce, James, Dewey, Emerson, Thoreau; and these topics: philosophical aspects of German romanticism, idealism, utilitarianism, materialism, pragmatism, transcendentalism. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

PHI 5223. Epistemology. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. Advanced study in the theory of knowledge. The course will focus on the core questions of epistemology: What is knowledge? What, if anything, do we know? How do we know it? Discussion may focus on one or more major epistemological topics such as the nature of perception, belief, justification and truth; naturalized epistemology, theories of truth, internalist and externalist theories of justification; the sources of knowledge; skepticism; the epistemic role of social context in relativism, social construction, and feminist epistemology.

PHI 5243. Metaphysics. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. Advanced investigation of some of the traditional metaphysical problems in Western philosophy such as the existence of God, the relationship between mind and body, determinism versus free will, universals and particulars, personal identity, persistence, material composition, and the nature of time and space.

PHI 5253. Philosophy of Religion. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Study of key figures (such as Anselm, Augustine, Aquinas, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Plantinga) and/or the major concepts and issues in philosophy of religion (such as arguments for and against the existence of God, freedom, the problem of evil, faith and reason, the use of religious language, and the nature of God). May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

PHI 5263. Philosophy of Language. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. Advanced study of some of the traditional issues in the philosophy of language, such as analyticity, aprioricity, theories of reference, necessity, truth, speech act theory, and philosophical theories of formal grammars. Advanced study may emphasize a major historical or contemporary figure in the philosophy of language such as Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, Quine, Lewis, Kripke and Kaplan.

PHI 5273. Social and Political Philosophy. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. An inquiry into some of the main philosophic issues arising from political life, such as the nature and justification of authority, rationality and justice, cosmopolitanism, democracy, natural rights, distributive and retributive justice, equality, and civil disobedience. Discussion may focus on specific issues and one or more major figures in political philosophy including Rawls, Habermas, Gauthier, Cohen, Nozick, Dworkin, and Scanlan.

PHI 6033. Advanced Topics in Applied Ethics. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. There are a vast number of major issues in applied ethics. The course will offer advanced analysis of some major moral issues in contemporary society such as abortion and the right to life, the beginning and the end of life, the status of human life, persons, potential persons, advance directives, genetic intervention, assisted reproduction, eugenics, disability, wrongful death and life, the notion of parenthood, discrimination, sexual morality, animal rights, punishment and desert, the morality of suicide, euthanasia, and war and pacifism. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

PHI 6143. Contemporary Analytic Philosophy. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. Advanced study of the major trends in the development of the Anglo-American philosophical tradition since its inception at the end of the nineteenth century up to the present day. There is a vast number of major issues and movements including logical positivism, ordinary language philosophy, epistemic modality, metaphysical necessity, the nature of possible worlds, essentialism, the nature of moral judgments and properties, modal knowledge, the nature of reference and language and so on. Major thinkers in twentieth century analytic tradition include, among others, Frege, Russell, Moore, Carnap, Quine, Kripke, and Lewis.

PHI 6153. Contemporary Continental Philosophy. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. In depth examination of the character and consequences of several recent movements in European philosophy, including phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, structuralism, postmodernism, deconstruction, and critical theory. Discussion may focus on one or more major figures including Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas, Derrida, and Foucault.

PHI 6943. Internship. (0-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and permission in writing of the instructor and Graduate Advisor of Record. Supervised experience, relevant to the student’s program of study, within selected organizations. Must be taken on a credit/no-credit basis. May be repeated for credit, but not more than 3 hours will apply to the Master’s degree.

PHI 6953. Independent Study. (0-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and permission in writing (form available) of the instructor and the student’s Graduate Advisor of Record. Independent reading, research, discussion, and/or writing under the direction of a faculty member. For students needing specialized work not usually available as part of the regular course offerings. May be repeated for credit, but not more than 6 hours, regardless of discipline, will apply to the Master’s degree.

PHI 6973. Special Studies in Philosophy. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and consent of the graduate advisor. Organized course offering the opportunity for advanced study not normally or not often available as part of the regular graduate course offerings. Special Studies may be repeated for credit when topics vary.

PHI 6983. Master’s Thesis. (0-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Permission of the Graduate Advisor of Record and thesis director. Thesis research and preparation. May be repeated for credit, but not more than 6 hours will apply to the Master’s degree. Credit will be awarded upon completion of the thesis. Enrollment is required each term in which the thesis is in progress.