CSULA Department of Philosophy M.A. Degree Comps Option

Students electing to take comprehensive exams first choose three of the four general exam areas listed below, and then in each area chosen, select one exam. (Click on the links for reading lists.)

Social/ Political Phil
Ancient Philosophy
Modern Philosophy
19th Cent. Philosophy
20th Cent. Continental
Phil Mind
Phil Language
Phil Science

Approaches to philosophy that cut across examination fields, for example, feminist philosophy or philosophy of race, are incorporated into the appropriate examinations. For example, questions in feminist metaphysics would appear on the metaphysics examination.

Students electing to take comprehensive exams must have already been advanced to candidacy and must be enrolled in PHIL 5960 Comprehensive Exams, during any semester in which they will take an exam. To receive a permit to enroll in PHIL 5960, a student should contact the comprehensive exam coordinator within the first seven teaching days of that semester. Within two weeks of the beginning of that semester the student must also contact the exam-specific coordinator(s) responsible for the exam area(s) the student has selected. The exam-specific coordinator will solicit exam questions from faculty and organize the grading of the exam(s). Students should generally expect to be notified of the outcome of the exam within two weeks of taking an exam. Incidentally, students should begin preparation for exams long before the beginning of the semester in which they intend to take an exam or exams.

Dr. Michael Shim will temporarily be the comprehensive examination coordinator for Fall 2020 while Dr. Richard Dean is away on sabbatical. Contact Dr. Shim to register for comprehensive exams.

Exam-specific coordinators are as follows:

  1. Metaphysics: Pitt
  2. Epistemology: Shim
  3. Ethics: Dean
  4. Social/Political: Abed
  5. Modern: Bettcher
  6. Ancient: Mendell
  7. 19th Cent.:
  8. 20th Cent. Continental: Conway
  9. Phil Mind: Pitt
  10. Phil Language: Balaguer
  11. Phil Science: Dizadji-Bahmani

Comprehensive exams may be spread over more than one semester. Note, however, that no comps will be offered during summer term. All comprehensive exams are scheduled for the 9th and 13th weeks of each semester (see below). Please contact the comprehensive exam coordinator for the exact time of day your exam will begin. Exams will be 2 hours and 15 minutes each. Each exam will ask the student to answer two questions (chosen from among several on the exam).

Week 9 Week 13
Monday Tuesday Monday Tuesday
Phil Language
19th Cent. Metaphysics
Social/ Political
20th Cent. Continental
Phil Science
Phil Mind

Once you elect to take an exam, you must pass that exam; you may not switch from one exam to another. In the event that a student fails one or more comprehensive exam(s), those exams will need to be taken again in a future semester.

Students should consult the Comprehensive Exam Preparation Guides for information about exam content and advice on preparing for the exams. In the event that an individual student needs more direction in preparation for a comprehensive exam than is available in the Preparation Guide, s/he should enroll in coursework in the area or in a directed study course (PHIL 5980) with a faculty member in the area in which s/he is preparing. Comprehensive exam questions will be drawn primarily from the posted reading lists, though there may also be a question or two from a recent graduate seminar on the topic. (If you have not taken the seminar, you would not be expected to answer such questions.)

For additional important information, please read this: Important Information about the M.A. Program in Philosophy.