Graduate Program

We are a nationally recognized M.A. program with a thriving community of engaged philosophers in the heart of the Bay Area.

About the M.A. Program

We offer a two-year program leading to a Master of Arts in Philosophy. We admit students who have a B.A. in Philosophy, but we also admit students with undergraduate degrees in other fields. We have a strong core program for students who want to strengthen their preparation in the fundamentals of the discipline. SF State faculty members are active scholars and offer advanced students the opportunity to be involved in the development of new research in a number of philosophical fields.

Our program is flexible and accommodates students pursuing a variety of goals: as preparation for those seeking a Ph.D. in Philosophy, a terminal M.A. for community college teaching, or for professional or personal enrichment. In order to serve students who work during the day, we regularly offer graduate seminars in the evening. Under supervision of the faculty, students develop their own course of study suited to their goals. We have developed strong departmental relationships throughout the University and encourage interdisciplinarity in student and faculty research.

Department of Philosophy facilities include a Critical Thinking Computer Lab where students learn to teach using argument analysis software, a comfortable student lounge and a quiet library for studying or meetings.

In addition to all the events and programs that are happening around the department, we encourage and support our students’ participation in the broader philosophical community. We are also very proud of our students’ successes in their post-graduate endeavors including excellent records of gaining admission to Ph.D. programs in philosophy and related fields, securing positions teaching philosophy and putting the knowledge and skills that they acquire with us to use in building careers outside of academia.

Because our world-class graduate faculty are active members of the philosophical profession, we are able to offer our students a number of unique learning opportunities in addition to the wide variety of course offerings (Graduate-level courses are numbered 700+) that reflect the most state-of-the-discipline research interests of the faculty. For example, among many other things, students can participate in the Bay Area Feminist Approaches to Philosophy and Bay Area Philosophy of Science Workshops, assist in the editorship of Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, or take PHIL 881: Advanced Philosophy Publishing in which students work with a faculty member on some aspect of philosophical publishing.

We also offer our students various opportunities to teach philosophy. Students can serve as teaching assistants either for course credit or remuneration, or can teach their own courses as Graduate Teaching Associates. GTAs attend meetings to discuss effective teaching methods with each other and the faculty head of the GTA program over pizza, of course.

Praise for the M.A. Program

Submitted by our external reviewers, Karen Hanson, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost (and Professor of Philosophy), University of Minnesota and Calvin Normore, Professor of Philosophy, UCLA after their SF State campus visit.

General Remarks

  • The SF State Department of Philosophy is a remarkable asset to the university and an invaluable contributor to the discipline of Philosophy.
  • SF State is widely regarded as offering one of the top ten stand-alone M.A. programs in the nation.
  • A spirit of cooperation, collaboration and respect is evident.
  • The intellectual climate is lively, and that is a huge benefit to both faculty and student.
  • Philosophy program has an extraordinarily diverse study body, and we cannot underscore strongly enough how important this is to the profession and to the professoriate.
  • This program is a gem.

Praise About Students

  • The students expressed warm appreciation for the extent to which faculty worked with them and valued greatly all opportunities for close intellectual contact.
  • The program prepares students for admission to highly ranked Ph.D. programs in Philosophy, and most of the students we met had such admission as a goal.
  • The program has been very successful in this aspect of its mission.
  • The SF State program also prepares students to teach philosophy in California community colleges. Here it competes to some extent with Ph.D. programs, and it is a measure of its quality that it has again been very successful.
  • The students expressed warm appreciation for the extent to which faculty worked with them and valued greatly all opportunities for close intellectual contact. It offers mentoring and intellectual support for a variety of aspirations.
  • Students in the program are mentored to become professionally active—to participate in conferences, seminars and international meetings.
  • Students as well as faculty are civically engaged, interested in social justice work, and in international perspectives.

Praise About Faculty

  • The faculty are active and respected in the profession, thoughtful and dedicated in their teaching, and generous in their service to the university and the wider community.
  • We were impressed by the seriousness with which the faculty approached teaching issues.
  • Philosophy faculty are such productive researchers.
  • The department seems exceptionally well managed.

Stay tuned! We are seeking approval to post the entire report.

We are grateful to Provost Hanson and Professor Normore for their time and effort in visiting SF State to examine our program.

Philosophy Graduate Student Tuition Scholarships

Thanks to a generous six-figure bequest from a former SF State M.A degree holder who went on to earn his doctorate, the SF State Department of Philosophy began a new scholarship program for students entering the M.A. program in Fall '15 and subsequent years. Scholarships may be matched with Graduate Teaching Associate Fellowships. Information about scholarship criteria and application procedures can be found on our scholarship page.

SF State also has a variety of other scholarships for graduate students, as well as financial aid. Students seeking the maximum in financial aid should submit a FAFSA by the end of February, even if they have not yet applied to the Philosophy M.A. program.