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Columbia University Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :21 Apr 
International :21 Apr 

MA Philosophy

 Course Level
Masters / PG
Full Time

2 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

54360 USD
54360 USD

Application fee

International 105 USD
National 105 USD
Department of Philosophy
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7.5
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600
GRE (avg)315

World University Ranking

About this course

The free-standing M.A. program is intended for students who wish to develop an advanced competence in Philosophy.  Some of our free-standing M.A. students do not plan to go on to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy.  Other free-standing M.A. students do plan to go on to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy, but do not yet have the background in Philosophy to win admission to a Ph.D. program; for these students, the free-standing M.A. program provides the opportunity to begin graduate studies by taking classes alongside the students enrolled in our Ph.D. program.

Students who do well in the free-standing M.A. program will be in a good position to apply to Ph.D. programs.  However, the free-standing M.A. program in Philosophy at Columbia is not intended as the first step toward earning a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Columbia. M.A. students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. should plan to apply to Ph.D. programs at other universities. Any M.A. student who wishes to pursue a Ph.D. at Columbia must apply separately to the Ph.D. program; they will be evaluated competitively with all of the other applications we receive. There is no guarantee that they will be admitted to the Ph.D. program, nor should there be any expectation that their chances of being admitted are improved by the fact of having obtained an M.A. degree in the Department.

Students who are pursuing the M.A. in order 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. Usually, it is wise to plan two years for the M.A. rather than one. That will allow more time to produce a record at Columbia, and to become known by the faculty members from whom they will be requesting letters of recommendation. If there are financial or personal reasons for trying to complete the degree within one year, we advise students to wait until after they have completed the M.A. before applying to Ph.D. programs.

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Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for admission, applicants must have earned a bachelor's degree by the date in which they enroll at the Graduate School.

Applicants who hold American doctorates or their international equivalents in the same or similar fields as those to which they propose to apply, or who have completed most of the work required to earn the PhD elsewhere, are not eligible for admission to the Graduate School.

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Course Modules

Degree Requirements

The requirements below should be read in conjunction with the general requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Note: Courses offered by other departments do not count toward Philosophy degrees unless they are cross-listed. In some cases, the DGS (Director of Graduate Studies) may grant an exception to this restriction if it is justified by a student’s philosophical project.

In order to earn an M.A. degree in Philosophy, students must satisfy the following requirements:

Residence Units

To earn an M.A. degree in Philosophy, students must accumulate two Residence Units (2 terms registered for 1 RU or 4 terms registered for ½ RU).


At least 30 points of coursework must be earned at the G4000-level or above. Of these, at least 18 points must qualify for E-credit (a passing letter grade), including at least two G9000-level seminars; the remaining points may be taken for R-credit (Registration credit).

Note: In order to earn E-credit, a student must complete all the requirements for the course. In order to earn R-credit, a student must attend the course and satisfy any additional requirements the instructor may impose, such as an oral presentation. However, no letter grade is awarded with R-credit.

Distribution requirements:

At least 3 points of E-credit must be earned in each of the following three distribution groups:

— Group I: Ethics; Aesthetics; Political Philosophy;
— Group II: Theory of Knowledge; Philosophy of Logic; Philosophy of Language; Philosophy of Science; Metaphysics;
— Group III: History of Philosophy (a major philosopher or philosophical period).

Qualification in Logic is not required for students pursuing a terminal M.A. degree; however, M.A. students who hope to pursue a Ph.D. in Philosophy are strongly advised to take a logic class (PHILG4415, Symbolic Logic, is the natural choice).

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How to Apply

All prospective students must apply using the online application. Printed applications are not available.

You must specify in your application the department, doctoral program subcommittee, or free-standing master’s degree program in which you wish to study. If required, you must indicate the sub-field of study and the term for which you are applying. A complete application includes: 

  • transcripts of all previous post-secondary education 
  • a statement of academic purpose
  • a curriculum vitae or résumé
  • three letters of recommendation from academic sources 
  • GRE scores and, if applicable, results of the TOEFL or IELTS examination to fulfill the English Proficiency Requirement
  • a sample of scholarly writing, if required by the department or program
  • payment of the application fee

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