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Master of Arts in Philosophy

SIU Philosophy Student discuss Demonstrations

If you are pursuing an advanced degree in Philosophy, it’s because you value thinking. There are plenty of practical applications for this degree in business, law, medicine, public policy, education. But the bottom line is you understand the importance of thorough, deliberate thinking, you aren’t afraid to consider all sides of a problem, and you are able to express your conclusions in a cogent manner. Welcome!

Our flexible program offers a diversified curriculum that is not dominated by one school of thought. Our faculty represent a broad range of specializations, Africana Philosophy, American Philosophy, Philosophy of Race, Philosophy of Science, to name a few. We give you the chance to sample different schools of thought, cultures and time periods in philosophy and encourage you to find your own particular area of interest.

Degree requirements

To earn your master’s degree, you’ll need, in addition to Philosophy coursework, competency in a foreign language or equivalent research tool; a written comprehensive exam, and a writing requirement.

If you plan to earn a doctoral degree after this master’s degree, you should write a thesis paper, under the direction of a faculty advisor. If this is a terminal degree, meaning you don’t plan to earn a Ph.D., then you may instead turn in three edited research papers. See the catalog for specific requirements.

Opportunities and Resources

Our Dewey Center is the mothership for Dewey Centers all over the world. John Dewey was especially famous for his writings on democracy and education. He is considered one of the great American philosophers.

The Special Collections Research Center at Morris Library offers primary-source material for advanced Philosophy students. Philosophy resources include the John Dewey Papers, R. Buckminster Fuller materials, Open Court Publishing Company Records, and more.

The Library of Living Philosophers is a book series devoted to contemporary philosophers. Each volume focuses on an individual philosopher, and includes a complete bibliography, a collection of critical and interpretive essays from contemporary philosophers, an autobiographical statement from the philosopher, and responses to the other essays. Students are part of the editorial team.

Philosophical Collaborations is a speakers series featuring a philosophy professor and a philosophy graduate student (working on a master’s degree or a Ph.D.) talking on a specific topic. It’s a great way to gain a free seminar.

Building Bridges is a philosophy conference held at SIU. We encourage students, including freshmen, to go to professional and academic conferences, but with this one, there are no travel fees.

Thesis or Research Paper Requirements

Thesis option: Recommended for students planning to earn a doctorate

  • Thesis of 50-75 pages in text length
  • Written under the direction of a faculty member
  • You can use up to 6 thesis credit hours to count toward your credit hour requirement
  • You’ll work directly with a thesis advisor.
  • Your preliminary draft, which you’ll submit to your thesis advisor, should include: thesis title, a description of the problem you are investigating, your methodology, an outline of the study, and a preliminary bibliography.
  • Our instruction booklet specifies the proper form for these documents. The booklet is available from the Graduate School or from the Philosophy Graduate Secretary.

Terminal master’s degree option: For students who do not plan on earning a Ph.D.

  • Instead of a thesis, you may present three edited research papers, written in connection with graduate courses or seminars under three different individuals who have given their approval for these papers.
  • You will present these three papers to a committee of three faculty members. Only one member of this committee can be an individual under whom the paper was originally written.


Assistantships are an important resource for our program. The students who earn an assistantship gain teaching experience and receive financial support. Our faculty are able to share the teaching load and preserve time for the research and publications that keep our program on the academic map. And our undergraduate students get to learn from more teachers with more points of view including graduate students who may be closer to their peer group than many faculty members.


Scholarships supplement any other financial assistance you may receive. In addition to university-wide scholarships, our program offers a number of major-specific scholarships. Make sure you understand all the requirements, and apply for these scholarships!

SIU Philosophy Student works on at laptop

Contact Information

Andrew Youpa,
Program Director

Faner Hall 3333
1000 Faner Dr.
Carbondale, IL 62901
Phone: 618-453-3161

Alfred Frankowski,
Director of Graduate Studies

Faner Hall 3331
1000 Faner Dr.
Carbondale, IL 62901