Master of Arts
The Virginia Tech Masters Program
Virginia Tech's M.A. program provides a broad grounding in the history of philosophy, in the analytic tradition in metaphysics and epistemology, and in ethics and value theory, including political philosophy. Our program also has a traditional strength in the history and philosophy of science, and so is appropriate to students with that interest.
Most of our students enter the program with the intention of going on to a doctoral program in philosophy. In many cases, students intend to bolster their undergraduate backgrounds and to acquire a broader and deeper education in philosophy. Other students do not intend to continue in academia, but wish to use an advanced training in philosophy in other professions. We have been highly successful in placing our students in doctoral programs, in law schools, and in schools of public policy, as our placement record demonstrates. Our program is listed in the Philosophical Gourmet Report as one of the top terminal M.A. philosophy programs in the United States.
The M.A. degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate level work. Students may complete the requirements for the M.A. degree through either the thesis or non-thesis tracks. Students pursuing the thesis track write a thesis and take at least 24 hours of regular coursework. Students pursuing the non-thesis track take at least 27 hours of regular coursework and complete a comprehensive exam at the conclusion of the two year program. For more details on the requirements of the M.A. degree, please consult the graduate student handbook.
Application Deadline: 1 February
Our M.A. Program normally admits full-time students only in the fall semester. Exceptions are possible in special circumstances. We encourage part-time students and Commonwealth Campus students to ask about rolling admission.
Admission to our program does not require that a student have completed an undergraduate philosophy major. A number of our students have come to philosophy too late in their undergraduate years to complete a major, and many are returning to school some years after completing their undergraduate degrees.
To apply, complete the online Graduate School application. A complete application will include the following materials, all of which must be submitted electronically:
- Three letters of reference. Instructions for having your letter writers submit their references online are provided with the application.
- A copy of your transcript uploaded during the online application process. (Official transcripts are only required upon acceptance.)
- A writing sample. Ideally, a writing sample should be an undergraduate paper of about 15 pages, preferably from a philosophy course. However, if such materials are not available, we will also consider professional reports or other appropriate documents of which the applicant was sole author. For students who have completed Masters Degrees in other fields, a chapter of a thesis may also be appropriate as a writing sample. You may upload your writing sample in the "Resume" area of the "Supplemental Information & Certification" section of the application. You may do so either as a separate file or in combination with one of the other requested files.
- All additional material requested in the instructions on the application (e.g. GRE scores, etc.).
Assistantships are available only to full-time students. New students are considered for assistantships only for entry into the program in the fall semester. Initial offers of assistantships will be made sometime between March 15-April 1. We will continue to offer assistantships later, as needed, until we have assigned all available assistantships.
Commonwealth Campus Program
Prospective students who wish to take a few classes prior to applying to our M.A. Program are welcome to apply for the Commonwealth Campus Program, which allows people who have completed their undergraduate degrees to take up to 12 credit hours (4 courses) without first being admitted into a departmental program, assuming the department has space for them in its classes and agrees to it.
If you need to place an inquiry concerning information not covered on our websites, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Walter Ott, by email.
Forms for Registered M.A. Students