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 almost all students admitted to the program. The philosophy department typically awards 9 or 10 Teaching Assistantships each year. Stipends are commensurate with duties. The standard TA stipend is $15,000. (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. Additional fellowship support of up to $4,000 may also be available.
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.
All applicants are automatically considered for a teaching assistantship. For full consideration, please apply by Feb 1. Admissions and teaching assistantships are awarded competitively to domestic and international applicants. However, we ask that eligible domestic students additionally complete a financial aid application (FAFSA) with their application. The FAFSA does not impact admission or funding decisions, but is important for allocating funds after admission. 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 through the Office of Graduate Admissions website.
First, complete the Graduate School application accessible through this link. In your application, you will need to provide (a) transcripts of all previous college work, (b) GRE scores (GRE scores are not required for applications for Fall 2023), (c) application fee ($75), (d) two letters of recommendation from former instructors, (e) a writing sample that best presents your philosophical ability, (f) a personal statement indicating your background and particular interests in studying philosophy, 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.
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 February 1st.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What do the financial details look like for students admitted to the MA program?
With rare exception, the department offers each admitted student a tuition remission that covers 85% of tuition and fees. This leaves about $2500 that students need to cover (split over two semesters).
Our TAship is $15,000 for 9 months (which goes a long way in Lubbock, TX - for example, the average monthly rent for a 1 bedroom apartment is $794 [as of May 2023 according to Apartments.com]).
International students are required to purchase the TTU health insurance plan, which for next year (2023-2024) is $3246. So international students can plan on about $5746 extra in fees. Domestic students pay $4456 for the TTU health insurance plan but have the option of finding health insurance elsewhere. The TTU health insurance plan covers the following summer.
Here is the chart with relevant fees: https://www.depts.ttu.edu/gradschool/financial/tuition.php.
2. Is the GRE exam required for my application?
The GRE is optional for applications through summer 2024.
3. Is the TOEFL exam required for my application?
All international applicants must provide proof of English proficiency before their applications can be considered for admission with the exception of applicants from English proficiency-exempt countries. There are a number of tests that can be used for English proficiency - see this link. The minimum TOEFL iBT score required is 79, and the minimum TOEFL Essentials score is 8.5.
4. Can I upload an unofficial transcript when applying, and then send the official one if admitted?
5. Does the department grant application fee waivers?
Yes, but how many we are able to grant each year is contingent on the current budget.
6. What kind of preparation can I expect specifically for applying to PhD programs in Philosophy?
The department is composed of highly trained faculty with extensive international research reputations. We set high expectations for performance in graduate seminars. You should expect to have detailed feedback on your thinking and your writing, and ample opportunity to improve and find your philosophical voice. All of this contributes to the reputation of our MA program which translates into placement success for PhD programs - see our placement record here.
More specifically, the department offers advice on the following:
- Developing the appropriate timeline to complete applications by the end of the fall semester of the second year.
- Detailed feedback on writing sample drafts.
- How to solicit strong letters of recommendation.
- Developing a list of PhD programs that suit your interests and needs.
- Realistic outcomes and what to expect at a PhD program.
- What to expect in the broader academic setting.
7. What if I'm not interested in going on to a PhD program in Philosophy?
We welcome students who are interested in doing philosophy for another two years and no further. Earning an MA in Philosophy is a great achievement that will make you smarter, and there are many professional avenues suited for such a degree including especially teaching philosophy at the community college level, and careers in computer science and the law.
For additional questions, contact Dr. Christopher Hom, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Philosophy, Box 43092, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-3092.