American University of Beirut

Graduate

The M.A. Program in Philosophy aims to provide students with in-depth training in the discipline of philosophy, while involving them in the research programs of individual faculty members. The graduate program in philosophy exposes students in a more intensive manner to a wide range of philosophical questions, through coursework in a variety of topics largely determined by the faculty’s broad research interests.​


​Why an M.A. in philosophy?


People study philosophy for its enormous and enduring interest, for its disciplined inquiry into questions of fundamental importance, such as the nature of reality, mind, knowledge, and ethics. In this sense, philosophy is the most “useless” field of inquiry, as it serves only to satisfy and inspire our natural desire to know and to learn. But for these same reasons, philosophy is also the most useful of disciplines, since it emphasizes intellectual skills (critical thinking, reading, and writing) that are indispensable to any particular field of inquiry, such as psychology, sociology, history, political science, and physics. All fields of knowledge employ reasoning and operate according to standards of evidence, but only philosophy examines the very foundations of reasoning and evidence, thus providing an added dimension of understanding to these fields.​

What can I do with an M.A. in philosophy?


For students who plan to go on to Ph.D. programs, but do not yet have the necessary background in philosophy to apply successfully to a Ph.D. program, our M.A. program offers a proper training that prepares students for doctoral work at leading institutions. Students who are pursuing the M.A. to enhance their chances of being admitted to a Ph.D. program should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies about how best to pursue that goal.

Some of our M.A. students do not wish to pursue a Ph.D. program. For these, the advanced competence in philosophy they acquire in our M.A. program prepares them to careers in medicine, business, journalism, law, psychology, computer science, artificial intelligence, public policy, and government. Graduates may also wish to teach philosophy at the high school or community college level. Since philosophy is by nature a method for thinking, it provides the most flexible, adaptable, and essential training for a virtually endless range of careers.​



M.A. Program Overview


The M.A. program in philosophy consists of 21 credit hours in graduate philosophy courses (for a total of seven courses), a thesis proposal and defense, and a thesis and defense. The program is designed to prepare students for a PhD program in philosophy, for developing writing and thinking skills useful for careers outside of philosophy, or simply for personal enrichment. Students will benefit from a student-to-faculty ratio of nearly 1-1, which means seminars are small, intensive, and discussion-focused. It means students will get plenty of personalized attention to their work and have frequent opportunities for intellectual interaction with faculty outside of the classroom. Student course and thesis work will also benefit from the department’s active research culture. The faculty members are, each, engaged in research projects and internationally recognized in their own field; internationally-known philosophers visit regularly to give talks, seminars, or to present papers at international conferences hosted by the​ department. Students may also present their own work in public forums and can maintain contact with the larger philosophical community through our home-grown Philosophy Student Society.

The research foci of the department’s current faculty lie within the analytic, continental, and historical traditions.​

Curriculum


The philosophy department endeavors to offer a balance among historical and contemporary courses as well as courses on value theory, metaphysics and epistemology (broadly construed) and other philosophical subject areas. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor upon entering the program. This advisor oversees the student’s progress until the student chooses a thesis advisor. Students typically take two courses each semester for the first three semesters. In their fourth semester, they take one course, prepare a thesis proposal, and defend their proposal. The student may then proceed to the MA thesis stage, under close supervision of their thesis advisor. Typically, the student will write and defend the thesis during the summer of the student’s second year in the program. The defense is conducted orally, before the thesis advisor and two other faculty members who will serve as readers. The evaluation of the written thesis and oral defense will emphasize clarity of writing, cogency of argument, and critical engagement.​

M.A. in Philosophy Program Learning Outcomes

Philosophy M.A. graduates will be able:

  1. To demonstrate familiarity with the key problems and positions in historical and contemporary philosophy.
  2. To demonstrate competence at representing complex philosophical arguments clearly and fairly and to evaluate them for cogency.
  3. To construct original and persuasive arguments of their own.
  4. To speak and write about the kind of abstract and conceptually elusive topics typically encountered in philosophy, in a manner at once clear, nuanced, and compelling.

Scholarship Opportunities


The Department awards Graduate Assistantships (tuition remission) on a competitive basis. Recipients are assigned to a faculty member who may ask them to provide assistance with their research or can be asked to participate in projects for the department.

The Department also participates in the MEPI-TLG (Middle-East Partnership Initiative- Tomorrows Leaders Graduate program, which offers qualified students full tuition, housing, and stipend for two-years of study. The Department also provides qualified students tuition remission and other benefits through the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship program.​


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