Philosophy Graduate Program (MA)
Why Earn a Master's Degree in Philosophy?
Those who wish to pursue an advanced degree in other disciplines or professions will find that the philosophy M.A. program provides an excellent springboard. The philosophy M.A. program at Texas Tech University is also designed to provide a solid grounding for continuing toward a Ph.D. in philosophy. Students lacking an undergraduate degree in philosophy, for example, might use the philosophy M.A. to improve their credentials, fill in gaps in their fund of knowledge, polish their writing skills, increase their intellectual competence and confidence, and generally prepare themselves for entrance into a philosophy Ph.D. program. For students who are uncertain about their future plans, the philosophy M.A. program provides an chance to test one’s ability to do philosophy graduate work without the extensive commitment of time and resources required by a Ph.D. program. Finally, students pursuing philosophy as an end in itself, seeking to further their understandings of the foundations of human knowledge and values, will find the philosophy M.A. program to be self-contained, providing depth as well as breadth in philosophy.
Many students who graduate from Texas Tech with an M.A. in philosophy go on to Ph.D. programs and professional schools. In the past ten years, we have placed students in top philosophy PhD programs such as: Rutgers, Stanford, Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Duke, Washington University at St. Louis, and UVA, among others (More detailed placement information is available here.) Most of these students received multiple offers.
The Graduate Program at Texas Tech
There are two tracks in the M.A. program. The thesis track requires 24 hours of coursework plus 6 hours of thesis, and culminates in the writing and oral defense of a formal master's thesis. Alternatively, the non-thesis track requires completion of 33 hours of graduate course work and a final oral exam over the general topic of the student's best philosophy graduate paper (or over an independently written master's report).
The Master of Arts program in Philosophy permits students to pursue graduate studies with an emphasis that reflects their particular interests and backgrounds. There is a distribution requirement: by the time of graduation, a student must take (i) one course in metaphysics and/or epistemology , (ii) one course in value theory, and (iii) one course in the History of Philosophy. Specific lists of the courses that qualify for these requirements can be obtained here.
Another distinctive feature of the Texas Tech philosophy M.A. program is its optional interdisciplinary component. Up to one third of the student’s course work may consist of graduate courses in disciplines other than philosophy. (These courses may be counted toward advanced degrees in other disciplines as well as toward the philosophy M.A. Double counting these courses makes it easier to obtain a philosophy M.A. along with another postgraduate degree.)
A full graduate course load is 9 or 12 graduate hours per semester. Thus, it is possible to complete the philosophy M.A. program in three semesters although most students complete the program in approximately two years of full-time enrollment.
Teaching Assistantships are provided to most students admitted to the program. The philosophy department typically awards 9 or 10 Teaching Assistantships. Stipends are commensurate with duties. The standard TA stipend is $13,000. (Lubbock’s low cost of living allows this stipend to stretch further than one might initially expect.) Teaching Assistantships also include tuition and fee waivers that cover over 80% of the entire cost of registration.
The typical duties of a teaching assistant are to grade papers, hold office hours, and sometimes to lead discussion sections. During their second year, teaching assistants may be given full responsibility for teaching a class. The Philosophy Department sometimes provides additional teaching opportunities during the summer for more experienced teaching assistants. Teaching assistants are provided with a computer-equipped office, Xeroxing privileges, and use of a pleasant conference room/lounge. Teaching assistants must register for at least 9 graduate or undergraduate hours each semester that they are under contract.
Teaching assistantships do not automatically accompany admission. However most of our present graduate students have teaching assistantships, so strong applicants have an excellent chance of receiving a teaching assistantship. Students wishing to be considered for a teaching assistantship for the fall semester should apply for admission as soon as possible. For full consideration, students should also submit a completed financial aid application (FAFSA) by early January. (Other elements of the application should be received by January 15th.) For forms or further information consult the Financial Aid Office.
Outstanding applicants to the philosophy M.A. program are considered for Texas Tech’s prestigious $4,000 per annum recruitment fellowship. In addition, the Philosophy Department offers several scholarships ranging from $200 to $1000 annually on a competitive basis to undergraduate and graduate students.
Information and Applications
Students apply directly to the Graduate School; please see their instructions for further information and applications here.
Admission procedures are simple. Send (a) the completed Graduate School application, (b) official transcripts of all previous college work, (c) GRE scores, and (d) application fee ($60) to the Office of Graduate Admissions. Send (e) two letters of recommendation from former instructors, (f) a writing sample that best presents your philosophical ability, (g) personal statement, and any other relevant materials to the Graduate School. Note: Letters of recommendation should be submitted directly from referees and should be written on professional letterhead; also, letters of recommendation, statements of purpose, and writing samples should be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions. We consider applications on a rolling basis throughout the year but, in order to maximize your opportunity for funding, all application material should be received by January 15th. Please also send a copy of your writing sample, unofficial transcript, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation to Dr. Daniel Nathan at DANIEL.NATHAN@ttu.edu.
Admission to the M.A. Program in Philosophy is based upon the holistic consideration of several factors: the transcripts; GRE scores; letters of recommendation; writing sample; and any other materials relevant to the application. Such materials might include evidence of commitment to philosophy, high motivation, multilingual proficiency, work and life experience, and community involvement.
Successful candidates have usually had a GPA of at least 3.0 over the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate study and GRE scores of at least 160 (verbal), 148 (quantitative), and 5.0 (writing). Students with lower GPAs and GRE scores have been admitted if their other credentials indicated likelihood of success in our graduate program. No single criterion is decisive. In particular, no numerical cut-offs are used to disqualify applicants.
An undergraduate major or minor in Philosophy is not always required. Applicants with little background in philosophy may be admitted if other aspects of their credentials merit it, and under the provision that they complete appropriate leveling coursework.
For additional questions, contact Dr. Daniel Nathan, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Philosophy, Box 43092, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-3092. Contact Dr. Nathan at DANIEL.NATHAN@ttu.edu.