GRADUATE PROGRAM

M.A. in Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy at Colorado State University offers a Master of Arts degree in philosophy. The department has established scholars specializing in traditional subdisciplines in philosophy including Aesthetics, Epistemology, Ethics, History of Philosophy, Logic, and Metaphysics.

The department also has a focus on global philosophies, including Asian and Arabic philosophies. The department has long been recognized as a leader in applied ethics, especially bioethics and environmental ethics.

Light bulb Icon

Traditional Areas

Globe Icon

Global Philosophies

Ethics Icon

Applied Ethics

The department welcomes graduate students with diverse backgrounds, including students with undergraduate degrees in areas besides philosophy. The aim of the M.A. Program is to train talented students in modern philosophical methods. Many of its graduates go on to Ph.D. programs at some of the leading graduate programs in the nation, while others pursue successful careers in industry, government and non-governmental organizations.

The MA Curriculum

The MA may be pursued along one of two plans, depending on whether students choose to complete their program with a thesis or a comprehensive final exam. In either case, the program is designed to be completed in two years of study.

Plan A: Thesis

Group 1: Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Related Areas (2 courses)
6 credits

PHIL 525        Seminar in Epistemology
PHIL 527        Seminar in Philosophy of Science
PHIL 535        Seminar in Metaphysics

Group 2: Theoretical Ethics (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 547: Seminar in Meta-Ethics
PHIL 548: Seminar in Normative Ethical Theory

Group 3: Applied Ethics (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 550/IE 550: Ethics and International Development
PHIL 564: Seminar in Animal Rights
PHIL 565: Seminar in Environmental Philosophy
PHIL 566: Seminar in Applied Philosophy

Group 4: History of Philosophy (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 500: Seminar in Major Philosophical Texts
PHIL 501: Topics in History of Philosophy

Philosophy Electives*
6-9 credits

Out-of-Department Courses*
0-3 credits

Thesis (PHIL 699)
6 credits

Total Program Credits:
30

A minimum of 30 credits is required to complete this program. In addition to completing program credits and courses required to address deficiencies, students must pass an oral defense of their thesis.

Plan B: Exam

Group 1: Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Related Areas (2 courses)
6 credits

PHIL 525        Seminar in Epistemology
PHIL 527        Seminar in Philosophy of Science
PHIL 535        Seminar in Metaphysics

Group 2: Theoretical Ethics (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 547: Seminar in Meta-Ethics
PHIL 548: Seminar in Normative Ethical Theory

Group 3: Applied Ethics (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 550/IE 550: Ethics and International Development
PHIL 564: Seminar in Animal Rights
PHIL 565: Seminar in Environmental Philosophy
PHIL 566: Seminar in Applied Philosophy

Group 4: History of Philosophy (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 500: Seminar in Major Philosophical Texts
PHIL 501: Topics in History of Philosophy

Philosophy Electives*
9-15 credits

Out-of-Department Courses*
0-6 credits

Research (PHIL 698)
3 credits

Total Program Credits:
33

A minimum of 33 credits are required to complete this program. In addition to completing program credits and courses required to address deficiencies, students must also pass a final examination.

Have Questions About Admissions or Requirements?

Upcoming Seminar Plans 

Spring 2021

PHIL 501: Topics in History of Philosophy (Harris)

Early Chinese Political Philosophy


Between approximately 771 and 221BCE, China was roiled by a range of significant conflicts, with migration and poverty marking day-to-day reality. However, within this climate of insecurity, brutality, and social breakdown emerged an astoundingly diverse range of intellectual, social, and political movements. Within the texts that have been handed down to us (as well as numerous ones lost to history early on but recently excavated) we see a range of reflections on and arguments about issues that are recognizably metaphysical, epistemological, and normative in nature. Throughout this course, we shall focus primarily on normative questions with a special focus on those relating to political philosophy. We shall examine the political philosophies as revealed through a range of texts including the Daodejing of Laozi, the Mozi, the Xunzi, and the Han Feizi. In doing so, we will concentrate on two interrelated questions - what is the relationship between morality and political theory and what constitutes politically relevant merit.

PHIL 525: Seminar in Epistemology (Kasser)

The Epistemology of Disagreement

We disagree with one another about matters large and small and about matters conceptual and empirical. Under what conditions (if any) can we maintain confidence in our beliefs while realizing that equally competent and conscientious people disagree with us? Should one regard a peer’s disagreement as counterevidence or just as evidence of counterevidence (or both or neither)? Can we take the opinions of others seriously without taking them too seriously? How are our actions, as well as our beliefs, to reflect our integrity, our fallibility, and our responsibilities to respect other people? While the seminar itself will focus squarely on epistemology, this topic lends itself to examples, term papers, and presentations involving ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, and other domains.

PHIL 535: Seminar in Metaphysics (Tucker)

This course covers a variety of paradoxes, though as Agustín Rayo puts it, the actual topic is not paradoxes, but "awe-inspiring topics at the intersection between philosophy and mathematics." We'll work through Rayo's book, On the Brink of Paradox, which "explores ideas at the brink of paradox: infinities of different sizes, time travel, probability and measure theory, computability theory, the Grandfather Paradox, Newcomb's Problem, the Principle of Countable Additivity." We'll pick and choose topics according to student interest and fill in mathematical background as necessary; we won't assume any substantial logic or mathematical knowledge.

 

PHIL 565: Seminar in Environmental Philosophy (Shockley)

Environmental Harm

The idea that we can harm the environment is intuitively clear. But do the typical notions of harm and benefit, common to human morality, apply in the same way to this thing we refer to as “environment”? In this seminar we will look at different ways in which the idea of harm might be applicable to features of the nonhuman environment. In addressing these concerns, we will need to consider not only traditional and alternative notions of harm, but also questions about the nature of the nonhuman environment.

Fall 2020

PHIL 500: Seminar in Major Philosophical Texts (Archie)

Plato's Republic

This seminar is devoted to the comprehensive study of Plato’s Republic. The central question when reading Plato’s Republic is: How should we read Plato’s dialogues? How we read them has much to do with what we suppose philosophy is. Each new philosophical approach gives us a different Plato, but my operating assumption is that we can be guided by the dialogues themselves in determining how they should be read.  A major aim of this seminar is to help you become sophisticated or adequate readers of Plato's Republic. A way of doing this is to take very seriously the content of the dialogue. The content is the conversation and argumentation that occurs within it. My goal for the seminar is to work through the entire Republic, with added emphasis on Plato’s political philosophy.

PHIL 535: Seminar in Metaphysics (MacKenzie)

The Self

This seminar will be a philosophical inquiry into the existence, nature, and phenomenology of the self. We will read and discuss both historical and contemporary work on the self, from the Indian and Western traditions. We will also draw on relevant empirical work from psychology and cognitive science. No previous knowledge of Indian philosophy is required.

PHIL 548: Seminar in Normative Ethical Theory (McShane)

Welfare and Welfarism

What should we count as “good for” or “bad for” somebody or something? What does well-being consist in, and what kinds of creatures have a well-being? In this course we will work through the main contemporary theories of welfare (a.k.a. well-being, interests, harm/benefit) and consider what answers they provide to these questions. Our focus will be the current literature on this topic in ethical theory, and our aim will be to understand contemporary debates about well-being. Next we will look at arguments for and against welfarism in ethics – the view that the “good” is nothing more than the “good for” – and consider their merits.  This seminar should leave you with a solid understanding of contemporary debates about the nature and importance of welfare in the ethical theory literature.

Placement Record

Many of our MA students go on to PhD programs in philosophy or pursue advanced degrees in other fields, such as law, public policy, education, counseling psychology, and medicine.

2019

0 students received the M.A. (as of May 2019)

2 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and were accepted into the programs at

University of Kansas

University of Nebraska

1 student attended other graduate programs

University of Utah Law School

2018

6 students received the M.A.

1 student applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and was accepted into the program at:

Central European University

1 student attended other graduate programs:

University of Denver Iliff School of Theology

 

2017

3 students received the M.A.

0 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy

0 students attended other graduate programs

2016

5 students received the M.A.

2 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and were accepted into programs at

University of Nebraska

University of Tennessee

0 students attended other graduate programs

 

2015

7 students received the M.A.

3 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and were accepted into programs at

University of Maryland
University of Miami
University of Cincinnati
University of Wisconsin
SUNY at Albany
University of Alberta
University of Utah
University of Illinois

1 student attended other graduate programs

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, MD Program

2014

5 students received the M.A.

4 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 3 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

Purdue University
Temple University
University of Exeter
University of Kansas
University of Memphis (2)

2013

5 students received the M.A.

2 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 2 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

University of Iowa (2)
University of Otago, New Zealand
University of Rochester

3 students attended other graduate programs

University of Massachusetts Boston, Management
University of Pittsburgh, Health Policy and Management
Northwestern, Law

2012

5 students received the M.A.

2 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 2 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

Bowling Green State University
Texas A & M
University of North Texas
The New School for Social Research

2 students attended other graduate programs

UC Berkeley, Law
Amrita University, India, Humanities and Social Sciences

2011

6 students received the M.A.

4 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 3 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

Bowling Green State University (2)
Marquette University
SUNY Buffalo
University of British Columbia
University of California at Davis
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Iowa
University of Miami

3 students attended other graduate programs

Indiana University, Law
University of Colorado Denver, Counseling Psychology
University of Maryland, Public Policy

2010

5 students received the M.A.

1 student applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy

2 students attended other graduate programs

Colorado State University, Education
Seton Hall University, Public Administration

2009

14 students received the M.A.

5 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 5 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

Bowling Green State University
Florida State University
Purdue University
University of California at Santa Barbara
University of Illinois at Urbana
University of Kansas
University of Tennessee
University of Western Ontario

3 students attended other graduate programs

CUNY, Law
University of Connecticut, Cognitive Anthropology
University of Kansas, Social Policy

2008

5 students received the M.A.

2 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 2 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

Rice University
The Ohio State University

1 student attended other graduate programs

East Tennessee State University, Storytelling

2007

6 students received the M.A.

3 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 3 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

University of Cincinnati
University of Illinois at Chicago
Purdue University

1 student attended other graduate programs

University of Colorado, Law