Master's Program | Philosophy | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

man writing

Master's Program

This guide is intended to serve as an aid to candidates seeking the degree of Master of Arts at SIU Carbondale. It supplements information in the Graduate School Catalog.  All deadlines and dates of exams will be announced on, the Philosophy Department's listserv. 

Students entering the program should contact the Director of Graduate Studies so that they may be assigned a Faculty Mentor, who will meet with the student once or twice a semester to ensure that the student is meeting the program requirements as they advance toward their degree. Students are encouraged consult the Director of Graduate Studies for such guidance as well.


The department’s M.A. degree program is designed both for stu­dents wishing to continue on for a Ph.D. degree and those who plan to receive a terminal master’s degree. For the latter stu­dents a minor concentration of up to 9 semester hours outside philosophy is permitted, subject to approval by the director of graduate studies. In order to receive the M.A. degree the stu­dent must fulfill the following requirements: 

  1. Complete 30 semester hours of course work in philosophy or allied fields, 6 of which may be credited toward prepara­tion of a thesis.
  2. Fulfillment of a formal logic requirement demonstrated in one of the four following ways:
    1. by having earned a grade of B or better in an undergrad­uate course covering sentential calculus and fi rst order predicate logic
    2. by having earned a grade of B or better in Philosophy 105 as an undergraduate at SIU
    3. by passing, with a grade of B or better during one’s first year of residence, an examination covering sentential calculus and first order predicate logic
    4. by passing with a grade of B or better Philosophy 420 during one’s first year of residence. 
  1. Fulfillment of a language or research tool requirement. This may be accomplished by passing, with a grade of B or better, one of the following:
    1. A 488 language course. (Note: these courses are offered through the Department of Foreign and Classical Lan­guages at various times)
    2. An examination offered through the Department of Phi­losophy.
    3. A Directed Readings course offered either by the Depart­ment of Philosophy (PHIL 591) or (subject to approval by the Graduate Director) another academic unit, in which a philosophic text is translated and a final piece of research is produced.

d. The student may appeal to the Director of Graduate Studies:

  1. To produce a translation of a previously untranslated text or article under professional guidance, whether within or outside the Philosophy Department.
  2. For special dispensation, having already demonstrated sufficient competence in a language or research tool. 

None of these options for fulfilling the language/research tool requirement count toward satisfying the 30 hour requirement, except the Directed Readings (PHIL 591).

  1. A written comprehensive examination of up to fi ve hours in length, dealing with the formulations and solutions of the persistent problems of philosophy as treated by major thinkers, from Thales to the end of the 19th Century. Nor­mally, this examination should be taken no later than at the beginning of one’s third semester of residence. Students who have incompletes older than one month may not sit for this exam. (Students are expected to make up incom­plete grades within one month of completion of the course in which the incomplete was awarded.) The Graduate Committee may address special considerations. Students preparing for the exam should consult the Department’s Study Guide, available in the Graduate Secretary’s Office. The History Comprehensive exam will be offered once each year in the Fall Semester. The Comprehensive examination papers will be read by five members of the Department’s faculty. These readers will submit to the Department’s Di­rector of Graduate Studies a ‘high pass,’ ‘pass,’ ‘low pass’, ‘terminal pass,’ or ‘fail’ recommendation. Students failing the Fall exam may attempt to retake the examination in the Spring, through a request to the Graduate Director. No student may sit for a History Comprehensive examination more than two times without the written consent of the Graduate Committee. The Graduate Committee will make such decisions on a case-by-case basis. A terminal pass al­lows the candidate to receive the Masters Degree as the final degree sought in the Department.
  2. Fulfillment of a research writing requirement by either of the following. In general, this requirement should be met no later than the end of one’s second year of residence. 

a. Presentation of an acceptable thesis, 50-75 pages in text length, to be written under the direction of a member of the Department. Six thesis hours is the maximum num­ber of hours that can count for credit for the Master’s degree (paragraph A, above). A preliminary draft stating the thesis title, describing the problem to be investigat­ed, the method to be used, the outline of the study, and a preliminary bibliography must be prepared in advance for the thesis advisor. An instruction booklet should be secured from the Graduate School or the Department Graduate Secretary, which specifies the proper form for these documents.

b. In the event of a terminal MA, the student may pres­ent three edited research papers, written in connection with graduate courses or seminars under three different individuals (whose prior approval must be obtained), to a special committee of three members, only one of whom may be an individual under whom the papers were origi­nally written.