Philosophy & Religion

Should I Apply to an M.A. or Ph.D. Program?

Before you make this decision, you need to be very clear why you want to choose either kind of program. When thinking about this, remember these facts:

    1. The M.A. degree cannot be used to teach philosophy full-time at the four-year degree university level. You need a Ph.D. for that.. The M.A. degree might land you adjunct work (teaching classes part time, for little pay) and could land you a community college job (full-time), but this latter possibility is very unlikely.

    2. The M.A. degree can be used as a stepping stone from one university to another (to get your Ph.D)

    3. The M.A. degree can is used (at some programs) as a part of a joint MA/JD degree (you get a law degree and an M.A. in philosophy).

    4. The M.A. degree must be completed before starting the Ph.D in philosophy.

Ask yourself a few questions.

First: Why do you want to apply to a program for only an M.A. degree?

Answer #1: My grades in philosophy/cumulative aren't fantastic and so I think I would have a better shot at just getting into an M.A. program. I'd like to get the M.A., do well, and then move onto a Ph.D program.

This can be done, and if your grades aren't where you'd like them to be, or if your preparation level is lower than you think it needs to be before starting a Ph.D. program, this might be a good idea. Remember that if you enroll in an M.A. program at a school with a Ph.D. program, the classes will be geared to the Ph.D students. This may be daunting if you are not yet prepared.

Note that there are some excellent schools that offer terminal M.A. degrees and that offer full financial support to their students (see the Gourmet Report for links to M.A. programs).

Answer #2: I do not want to pursue a professional career in philosophy, but rather want a law degree and a philosophy masters degree.

There are many schools that offer the joint MA/JD degree. Again, see the Gourmet Report for more details.