Cal State LA Department of Philosophy M.A. Degree

The Department of Philosophy offers a program of study leading to the Master of Arts degree in Philosophy. The program aims at the acquisition of a broad background in philosophy. It is designed for those preparing for further graduate study or community college teaching, and for self-enrichment. Although the department is analytically oriented, it encourages work in other traditions, for example, continental European philosophy and feminist philosophy. The department includes faculty members with diverse backgrounds and interests actively working in a wide range of philosophical specialties. Classes and seminars are small with a friendly, informal atmosphere that facilitates student-faculty interaction. Philosophy students edit a journal, Philosophy in Practice, which publishes student essays.

Incoming and Current Students

The M.A. program consists of a minimum of 30 semester units of approved course work and culminates with either a set of comprehensive examinations or a thesis. At least 50% of the units in the M.A. program must be at the 5000-level. Incoming students should consult with a graduate advisor as soon as they are admitted, to discuss course selection, choice of culminating project (comps or thesis), and additional graduation requirements. Important: before contacting an advisor, please review the following information:

For general information on Graduate Programs, please consult the Graduate Student Handbook (produced by the Office of Graduate Studies) and the University Catalog.

Admission Requirements and Procedures

If you would like to join our M.A. program in Fall 2024, please apply by May 31, 2024.
For full consideration, please apply directly to the university through Cal State Apply.

Applicants to the M.A. program in philosophy must meet both the university requirements for graduate admissions and additional requirements specific to the philosophy department. Find information regarding university admission requirements and procedures here:

All applicants must complete the Cal State Apply online application. The online application process is inclusive of appropriate documents such as official transcripts, and for International Students this also includes the Financial Affidavit and/or TOEFL or IELTS scores. Check here for application deadlines.

Departmental Requirements:

In addition to the university requirements, the philosophy department requires a 2.75 grade point average in the last 60 semester units, official transcripts, a writing sample, and one letter of recommendation, all of which are to be uploaded during the university's application process. A philosophy paper is preferred as the writing sample, but a statement of interest and purpose is also acceptable. GRE scores are not required. Applicants must possess a baccalaureate in philosophy or a baccalaureate with a major in a field other than philosophy supplemented by a minor in philosophy (or its equivalent in course work). Students who have not completed the equivalent of a minor in philosophy (21 semester units) can take them at any accredited institution before applying or be admitted to the program as a conditional student and take the required courses at CSULA. (This course work must be arranged in consultation with the philosophy department's Director of Graduate Studies to ensure that it will, together with any courses taken prior to admission, be equivalent to the general minor (PHIL 1510 or 1520 is not required for admission).)

Under exceptional circumstances, special admission is available for students whose grade point average does not meet the 2.75 GPA standard. While the program maintains modest admission standards, students who succeed in the program usually have done strong undergraduate work in philosophy or related fields.

For further information, contact Dr. Michael Shim in the philosophy department at (323) 343-5942. Email: [email protected].

Financial Aid/Assistantships

Several forms of grants, scholarships and loans are available from the University. Students wishing more information should contact the Financial Aid Office. The Department has several graduate assistantships for which graduate students in good standing are eligible. In addition, internships with nearby community colleges may be available. Information about assistantships is available from the Director of Graduate Studies.

Expected Learning Outcomes for the M.A. Program

The graduate program in philosophy is intended to engage students in philosophical inquiry. In it, students build upon their undergraduate foundation to study noteworthy contributions by philosophers to intellectual traditions; to explore various philosophical issues, problems, and questions; to gain facility with principles of inquiry and evaluation relevant to the many areas of human activity, such as science, law, religion, education, government, art, and the humanities; to develop more expertise in the skills of interpretation, analysis, criticism, and synthesis needed for doctoral work in philosophy or advanced work in other fields; to refine their skills and attitudes leading to self-reflection and life-long learning.

Knowledge and ability outcomes for students in the MA program are similar in kind to those for students in the undergraduate program. However, graduate students are expected to acquire a deeper knowledge of philosophical texts and methods of inquiry, a more advanced knowledge of and facility in logic, the ability to explain philosophical ideas at an appropriate level for students in introductory philosophy courses and the skills and knowledge necessary to complete a thesis or comprehensive examinations.

Knowledge Outcomes:

  • Knowledge of some of the major philosophical texts in the history of western philosophy.
  • Knowledge of contemporary philosophical methods.
  • Knowledge of some of the main currents and issues in contemporary philosophy for example, in metaphysics, epistemology, logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of law, ethics, political philosophy and aesthetics. Knowledge of some of the main currents and issues in contemporary philosophy, including an understanding of their historical and philosophical precursors; at least two of three areas below must be included:
    1. metaphysics and theory of knowledge
    2. logic, philosophy of language and science
    3. ethics, social and political philosophy, and aesthetics
  • Knowledge of propositional and predicate logic.

Ability Outcomes:

  • The ability to understand, analyze and critically evaluate complex arguments and theories, including the ability to distinguish what is most important in an argument or theory from what is ancillary to it and the ability to anticipate objections to it.
  • The ability to identify and critically evaluate the underlying presuppositions of methodologies, theories and arguments in various areas, e.g., science, law, religion and public policy, and to form reasoned opinions of their own about such matters.
  • The ability to develop reasoned support for opinions on theoretical and practical matters.
  • The ability to interpret and explicate texts from different cultural and intellectual contexts.
  • The ability to articulate and defend, both orally and in writing, informed, coherent and cogent positions on philosophical issues, as well as the ability to explain philosophical ideas at an appropriate level for students in introductory philosophy courses.
  • The ability to conduct independent philosophical research and to think creatively about it.
  • The ability to apply the above philosophical skills in new contexts.
  • The ability to apply some of the philosophical skills listed above to one’s own life, in self-reflection and life-long learning.