Evaluation Process

We encourage interested prospective students to consult the relevant portions of the University Bulletin concerning the philosophy department’s M.A. program.

Evaluating prior coursework

Students need not have completed an undergraduate major in philosophy to be considered for the M.A. program.

Applicants’ prior academic work will be evaluated to see that a number of undergraduate courses have been fulfilled with the grade of 3.0 or better (B) and that the courses reach the level of upper-division coursework in philosophy at SF State. The sole exception to the upper-division coursework criterion is for the Logic (PHIL 205), a lower-division course. Please note that the Department of Philosophy offers a Formal Logic Challenge Exam.

Required undergraduate courses:

1. Logic (must be equivalent to PHIL 205)
2. Ancient Philosophy (PHIL 301) [or PHIL 410 in Fall 2021]
3. Modern Philosophy (PHIL 303)
4. Ethics (PHIL 450)
5. One course in Metaphysics and Epistemology (broadly construed):
o Philosophy of Science (PHIL 350)
o Metaphysics (PHIL 605)
o Theory of Knowledge (PHIL 610)
o Philosophy of Perception (PHIL 611)
o Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 620)
o Philosophy of Language (PHIL 630)
Note: courses listed as 1-4 are prerequisites for “classified standing” and cannot be counted toward the MA; one course from category 5 is required for a student to advance to candidacy and can be counted toward the MA if it is taken at SFSU and is not counted toward another degree. 

We strongly suggest that students take these courses early in their graduate career. However, we also understand that students may want to start taking graduate seminars as soon as possible. As a general rule, before students take a specific graduate seminar, they should have already taken the undergraduate prerequisite for that seminar. For example, before you take a graduate seminar in ancient philosophy, you should have already taken Phil 301 or an undergraduate course in this field. Or you should, in some way, be able to demonstrate to the professor teaching the seminar that you are prepared for graduate-level work in the field.

In rare instances, students can succeed in a graduate seminar without having undergraduate preparation in that field. Consult with the seminar professor and the graduate coordinator if you propose to demonstrate prerequisite competence in this way.

Note that students can count a limited number of selected upper-division courses toward their degree (though they will not be able to count prerequisite courses in this fashion). For students who begin their graduate work in Fall 2011, units in a course numbered lower than 600 will be counted toward the M.A. only if the course has been completed with an A or A-.

Please see the current schedule of classes.

Graduate Standing and Classified Standing

Students admitted into the program are considered either "Classified," "Conditionally classified," or "Unclassified."

Classified Standing

To be considered for classified admission to the M.A. program in Philosophy, a student typically will have completed an undergraduate major in Philosophy with a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 in the final sixty units of coursework. If the student's undergraduate work meets the department’s criteria and shows promise of a successful completion of the graduate program, he or she will be admitted to classified standing. Only those who have already satisfied all the prerequisites prior to admission are "classified" graduate students.

Conditionally Classified Standing

Most applicants who do not have a degree in Philosophy or who lack any of the above prerequisites are admitted as conditionally classified graduate students. Status as a conditional graduate student does not affect a student’s general financial aid. Some University scholarships are restricted to classified students. Students in either category - classified or conditionally classified - are still considered "real" graduate students

We generally recommend that students who are admitted as conditionally classified finish their prerequisites before commencing on graduate level work.

Students generally move to classified status after they submit their Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) Form.

If the student's undergraduate record suggests the likelihood of a successful pursuit of graduate work, the department may recommend that the student be admitted on a conditional basis, specifying the conditions to be met for advancement to classified standing. If the student's undergraduate record shows little promise of satisfactory work at the graduate level or insufficient training in Philosophy, the department will recommend that admission be denied.

Unclassified Standing

Students who do not meet the requirements for conditionally classified standing may wish to apply to the University through Open University/College of Extended Learning in order to correct deficiencies in their record.