MA Program | Philosophy & Religion

MA Program

Marketable skills for this degree include interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skill areas, that are valued by employers, and are primary or complementary to the major. The marketable skills goal was designed to help students articulate their skills to employers. UNT's marketable skills were faculty-developed and approved by employers or discipline-specific agencies, e.g., internship providers, chambers of commerce, workforce development boards, and other workforce-related entities. For information on these marketable skills -


Students pursuing academic careers in the humanities and the sciences may take the Master of Arts in Philosophy as preparation for Ph.D.-level work in philosophy and related fields. The curriculum for the Master of Arts provides students with foundational training in the history of Western philosophy and religion, environmental philosophy, the philosophy of science and technology, and interdisciplinary experiences through a flexible program. It is also a good background for students planning careers in law, journalism, or work in the private, public, or non-governmental sectors.

In the initial stages of study the departmental Director of Graduate Studies will primarily advise students. Student supervision and advisement in the more advanced stages of study will be the responsibility of the student's major professor and committee. Graduate students assume full responsibility for knowledge of all Toulouse School of Graduate Studies and University of North Texas rules, regulations, and deadlines published in the Graduate Catalog and of all departmental and program requirements concerning their degree program.

Milestone Schedule

  1. Apply for Admission at least six weeks prior to registration (seven to eight months prior to registration for foreign students).
  2. Establish major professor/advisory committee and prepare proposed degree program upon or before the completion of 12 semester hours of coursework.
  3. Meet with Director of Graduate Studies, assigned by department chair, to plan course of study for first semester before first semester registration.
  4. Submit a degree plan to the Department and Graduate School upon or before completion of 18 semester hours (or one academic year) of coursework.
  5. If applicable, determine thesis deadlines, procedures, and requirements and submit a thesis proposal to major professor/advisory committee.
  6. If applicable (i.e., for non-thesis students), determine the Comprehensive Exam date, procedures, and requirements. Work in advance with faculty to study for the exam and consult with the DGS in preparation.
  7. Submit final defended copy of thesis or comprehensive examination.
  8. Ensure that degree plan and committee are up to date and all course work is completed, schedule Comprehensive Exam (non-thesis) or final defense of thesis, and apply for graduation.

Time Limitations

All course work and other requirements to be credited toward the master's degree must be completed within five years. Time limits are strictly enforced. Students exceeding the time limit may be required to repeat the comprehensive exam, replace out-of-date credits with up-to-date work, and/or show other evidence of being up-to-date. Students anticipating they will exceed the time limit should apply for a leave of absence (see below).

Degree Plans

In order to receive a degree, every UNT graduate student must have a degree plan filed with the Toulouse Graduate School. Students will meet with the departmental graduate advisor and the DGS during their first semester and map out the degree plan. Students must have a degree plan filed to the department and the graduate school by the end of their first year. Degree plans can be altered over the duration of course work as many times as the student decides. Every change in the degree plan must be filed with the department and the graduate school. A finalized degree plan must be filed when all requirements are met in order for the student to graduate.

Leave of Absence

This applies to students admitted to the master's degree program who wish to discontinue work toward the degree for a specified period of time due to exigent circumstances. Leave of absence requests are granted by the Graduate School. If the student has begun thesis and is under the continuous enrollment requirement, a waiver of continuous enrollment must also be requested and approved by the Graduate School. A 'stop clock' request can also be made if necessary. Degree requirements and graduation must be completed within the appropriate time limit for completion of the degree. The leave of absence form is available here:

Annual Schedule

First Semester: Meet with Director of Graduate Studies; Establish Major Professor; Nine Hours Coursework.

Second Semester: Submit Degree Plan; Nine Hours Coursework; Committee Status Report.

Third Semester: Thesis Proposal (if necessary); Nine Hours Coursework. Study for Comprehensive Exam.

Fourth Semester: Modify / Submit Final Degree Plan; Complete Coursework or

Thesis; Defend Thesis (if necessary). Pass Exam.

MA Options and Course Sequences

Thesis Option

Students take a total of 30 semester credit hours (ten courses). At least 24 hours (eight courses) must be taken in the Department of Philosophy and Religion; 6 hours (two courses) may be taken outside of the department. Outside course work is optional, not required. After completing course work, students will submit a Master's Thesis, a substantial work of original scholarship. Students may enroll in PHIL 5950 after they have completed course work and have not yet completed the thesis. Students must pass an oral defense of the Master's Thesis.

Non-Thesis Option

Students take a total of 36 semester credit hours (12 courses). At least 30 hours (10 courses) must be taken in the Department of Philosophy and Religion; 6 hours (two courses) may be taken outside of the department. Outside course work is optional, not required. The Comprehensive Exam is conducted during the final semester of the student's coursework.


Prior to beginning your thesis, discuss your research interests and possible thesis topics with your major professor/advisory committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Thesis Committee

The number of members on thesis committees will normally be three to five; at least three are required. The majority of committee members must hold regular UNT faculty status within the Department. The thesis chair is the student's major professor and guide through the process of thesis development and the demonstration of independent scholarship. Therefore, the chair of the thesis committee, who must be willing to serve, is selected by the student in consultation with the appropriate graduate faculty, graduate advisor, or department chair in the student's discipline. (Note: A person who is not a regular member of the University of North Texas graduate faculty may receive a temporary graduate faculty appointment from the graduate dean in order to serve on a committee. For these appointments, the thesis committee chair should submit an associate membership nomination form, justification for the appointment, and a vita of the prospective committee member.)

Thesis Defense

The candidate must pass a final oral defense principally over the contents of the thesis and related matters. The oral defense must involve all members of the Thesis Committee. The results of the oral defense must be received by the office of the dean of the Toulouse Graduate School no later than the deadline date for submission of theses by students expecting to graduate at the end of the current term/semester or summer session/term.

Thesis Submission

The University of North Texas, as a member of the Council of Graduate Schools, ascribes to the fundamental tenant on openness and access of thesis and dissertation research. All UNT ETDs (Electronic Thesis and Dissertation) are placed in the UNT ETD repository and made available via the online Libraries catalog for reading and/or downloading by all users, including being crawled and indexed by online search engines (e.g., Google). ETDs are available in perpetuity; there are no restrictions regarding who can download the file or how many times it can be downloaded.

In addition to the UNT Libraries, copies of all ETDs are also sent to ProQuest. All students must sign and submit a ProQuest publication agreement as part of their required paperwork for graduation. As copyright holders, students earn royalties on every copy sold of their thesis or dissertation so students must include their social security number on the ProQuest forms. The "microfilm" graduation fee covers ProQuest's Traditional Publishing option. If a student has opted to restrict access to the UNT Libraries copy of their ETD, this is *not* communicated to ProQuest. Access choices are listed on the ProQuest agreement form but if these are not sufficient, students must contact ProQuest directly to discuss alternatives.

The document submitted to the Toulouse Graduate School must be the absolute final version, with all committee, department and/or college requested changes included. Subsequent submissions will not be accepted. Instructions for submission of the thesis may be obtained from the graduate dean's office. All documents must be turned in by the appropriate deadlines.

A completed thesis packet will include:

  1. Word-processing version of your abstract, e.g., MS Word or .txt file
  2. Final Defense Form (may be submitted directly by your department)
  3. ProQuest Agreement Form
  4. Copies of any copyright permission letters you have received. Copies can be hard copy or digital (included on the CD)

After your thesis has been submitted, the Graduate Reader will examine your work and email you regarding any necessary revisions (if needed).

MA Comprehensive Examination

Satisfying the Toulouse Graduate School Requirement for Qualifying Examination.

The purpose of the comprehensive exam is for the non-thesis MA student in philosophy to develop a background in the major figures and themes in the history of philosophy.

Consistent with the Toulouse Graduate School Requirement for Qualifying Examination and Admission to Candidacy this comprehensive exam will require the student to demonstrate competency in the basic areas of philosophy.

Students are eligible for the comprehensive exam following the completion of course work. Exams will be administered by the end of the spring semester. Exams can be administered by the end of the fall semester with the consent of the Director of Graduate Studies.

Students are required to take one MA Comprehensive Examination in the history of philosophy. There is a suggested readings list for the exam. The comprehensive exam questions will be based on the reading list and recently offered courses. Sample questions are posted at the department web site.

The exam will be four hours long, administered in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, written on an internet disabled computer.

Evaluation, Grading, and Appeals

The Comprehensive Exam Committee will grade the student's examination with a Pass/Fail grade in a timely manner.

Pass: The comprehensive exam satisfactorily meets the Graduate School's Qualifying Exam Requirement.

Fail: The comprehensive exam does not satisfactorily meet the Graduate School's Qualifying Exam Requirement.

A pass grade is required to satisfy the non-thesis MA degree requirements.

A Fail grade is permissible. Students may retake the exam once. The retake will take place on or near July 1 (or February 1 if the exam is taken in the fall).

Appealing the Fail Grade

In the event of a second Fail grade, the student may appeal the grade. An appeals committee comprised of the Comprehensive Exam Committee, Director of Graduate Studies, and the Department Chair will confer to determine the merits of the appeal. If the appeal is upheld, the examination will be re-graded by the Executive Committee. If any members of the Executive Committee are also on the Comprehensive Exam Committee, the exam will be graded by members of the Tenure and Promotion Committee who are not on the Comprehensive Exam Committee.

A Fail grade after the appeal and second grading will result in dismissal from the Program for unsatisfactory progress.