The Catholic University of America

Master of Arts (MA) or Licentiate (PhL) in Philosophy

Candidates must have received a bachelor's degree from a recognized institution. A minimum of eight undergraduate courses in select philosophical disciplines, including one course in symbolic logic, is required before regular standing as an MA or PhL candidate is achieved. Where a deficiency exists, certain graduate courses may be taken as the candidate completes the undergraduate requirement.

Degree Requirements

  1. Candidates must complete, in residence, two semesters of full-time study (or the equivalent). A minimum of eight three-credit courses is required. Students may not repeat a graduate philosophy course in order to raise their grade.
  2. MA or PhL degree candidates must complete all degree requirements within three years after admission to the program.
  3. Candidates must present a thesis, the title of which is to be submitted for approval by the faculty. (Topic approval form can be found here.) 

In order to hold the MA Oral Examination (see below), the thesis must first be approved by the director and the reader, and the final manuscript of the thesis must be deposited with the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Those hoping to be counted among May graduates should be aware that the School of Philosophy's deadline for deposit of the thesis is one week prior to the final date for depositing theses and dissertations identified on the University's Academic Calendar. Detailed instructions about the preparation of the final copy and other procedures may be obtained from the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Six credits are awarded for the thesis upon the completion of all other requirements for the degree.

  1. Candidates must pass the following examinations:
    • All regular examinations in each course.
    • A written examination administered by the School of Philosophy in which the candidate demonstrates an ability to read either French, German, Greek, or Latin.
    • An oral examination, of one hour, before four members of the faculty. Candidates for the MA degree must take their oral examination before the end of the second semester after the semester in which they complete their required course work.
  2. Students are permitted to do doctoral course work before all requirements for the MA are completed, but such coursework neither entails admission to the PhD program, nor itself constitutes an argument for admission to the PhD program.

Language Requirements

For the master's degree or licentiate, a reading knowledge of French, German, Latin, or Greek is required. For the doctoral degree, a reading knowledge of both French and German is required. All language requirements must be fulfilled one year prior to the time of the presentation of the candidate's degree.

In order to demonstrate reading knowledge in the requisite language, the student must pass a translation examination administered by the School of Philosophy. Students with no prior knowledge of French or German are advised to take the reading competency course in the language (GER 500 or FREN 500) offered every semester by the Department of Modern Languages before attempting the School of Philosophy examination.

Language Examinations Administered by the School

The School of Philosophy translation examinations in French, German, Latin, and Greek are given once in the fall and once in the spring. They are administered in two parts--in the case of French and German, one part is a passage from a primary source, and one a passage from some secondary source. The examination is administered in two three-hour sessions in which the student is required to translate the passages presented. The student may consult a single dictionary throughout the examination.

Candidates for the MA or the PhL degree must pass one part of one such examination either in French, German, Latin, or Greek. Candidates for the PhD must pass both parts of the examinations in both French and German. All candidates must take both parts of the examination. No language will be recognized as a substitute for French or German.

A foreign language examination committee, appointed by the Dean, will be responsible for the preparation and the grading of the School's translation examinations. For further particulars, see the Foreign Language Examination Guidelines.

Copies of past Language Examinations will be available in advance of the examination dates and can be obtained from the Dean's Office in 100 Aquinas Hall.

Continuous Enrollment of Graduate Students

Every graduate is required to maintain continuous enrollment from the date of first registration until a degree program is completed. A student who fails to maintain continuous enrollment under one of the options available is presumed to have withdrawn from the university and consequently must be petition for readmission.

In order to maintain continuous enrollment, students are obliged to register at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. Failure to meet the deadlines appearing on the University's Academic Calendar for registration, as well as for adding or dropping a course, may result in a financial penalty or, at worst, effective dismissal from the university. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of such deadlines. For full-time enrollment options, see the website of the Dean of Graduate Studies

Academic Leave

A student in good standing who must interrupt their studies for adequate reasons, such as prolonged ill health or military service, or other circumstances resulting in involuntary interruption of graduate studies, may apply for Academic Leave. Academic Leave is granted for a stated period, usually not to exceed two semesters or one year. 

To request Academic Leave, a student must first discuss the possibility with the Dean. Documentation of the reasons for requesting leave may be required. Following these discussions, the student must make a formal application prior to the first day of the semester in which the leave would be taken. Final approval of the request for an Academic Leave is made by the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate studies.

An Academic Leave, if granted, will take effect the last day of the semester in which the student was most recently enrolled. The period of Academic Leave is not counted as part of the time allowed for the completion of residence or other degree requirements. Any incomplete ("I") grades that are outstanding must be changed in accordance withthe policy on incomplete grades by the date published in the Academic Calendar, whether a student is registered for the current semester or not.

Students on Academic Leave are expected to return to the University when their stated duration of leave has expired, unless they have applied for and have been given an extension. Students who do not return from an Academic Leave when scheduled will be subject to Permanent Withdrawal during the semester in which they failed to return. If the student thereby withdrawn from the University desires to return to graduate studies at The Catholic University of America, he or she must apply for readmission and satisfy current degree requirements to be reinstated.