Learning Outcomes

  • Philosophical Acumen. Students will demonstrate proficiency in formulating, defending, and critiquing complex philosophical arguments.
  • History of Philosophy. Students will demonstrate proficiency in the fields of ancient, medieval, and modern philosophy.
  • Contemporary Philosophy. Students will demonstrate proficiency in the field of contemporary philosophy.
  • Language Ability. Students will demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language (normally Ancient Greek, Latin, French, or German).

Requirements for the
M.A. Degree (30 credits)


M.A. students take a minimum of 30 graduate course credit hours (10 courses). These must include at least a minimum of one in ancient philosophy, one in medieval philosophy, one in modern philosophy, and one in contemporary philosophy (note: not all graduate courses offered by the department fall into one of these categories). M.A. students normally complete their coursework in two years, taking 9 credits (3 courses) each semester during their first two years and 6 credits (2 courses) each semester during their second year. Part-time M.A. students may follow an extended or alternative schedule.

Transfer Credits/Advanced Standing

Transfer credits are not accepted and advanced standing is not awarded for the M.A. program. Please note that this Philosophy graduate transfer credit policy is more limited than the general Graduate School policy.

Extra-Departmental Courses

When relevant to a student’s research and with the approval of the Chair, three credits (1 course) taken through another department or at another university may be applied toward the coursework credits requirement.

Language Requirement

M.A. students must demonstrate research competence in one foreign language (normally ancient Greek, Latin, French, or German). Tuition assistance is usually available for semester language courses at Duquesne and intensive summer language study abroad.

Thesis Option

M.A. students are not required to write a Master's Thesis. Those who choose to do so must secure the agreement of a faculty director and register for PHIL 700 Research Thesis during their final two semesters of the program. These 6 Research Thesis credits do count toward the coursework credit requirement detailed above.

Satisfactory Progress

The Chair and Director of Graduate Studies periodically review progress toward degree. Students deemed not to be making satisfactory progress may be placed on probation or asked to leave the program. University policy requires all work leading to a M.A. degree to be completed no more than six years after matriculation.

Degree Conferral

M.A. candidates must make a formal application for the degree at the office of the Registrar prior to the date specified in that year's University Calendar and should be present at graduation. Students must make complete settlement of their financial accounts with the university before any degree will be conferred.

Exchange Programs

Students who wish to pursue an exchange program, such as the one set up with Heidelberg University, must discuss this possibility with the chair.

For Ph.D. in Philosophy information refer to the Ph.D. listing

Master of Arts (M.A.) and Juris Doctor (J.D.)

This joint degree is offered through the collaboration of Duquesne University School of Law and the McAnulty Graduate School of Liberal Arts. The purpose of this joint degree is to offer students the opportunity to gain the benefits of a rigorous study of philosophy while completing their J.D. program. Studies have shown that students with a background in philosophy are particularly well-suited for success in law school. They tend to score well above average on the LSAT, and out-perform students with other educational backgrounds.

Students will be required to complete credit hours for the joint J.D./M.A. in Philosophy program in accordance with the credit requirements corresponding to each degree. Students also remain responsible for satisfying any additional graduation requirements, as dictated each program's guidelines. In regards to the completion of the J.D. credit requirements, students must obtain eighty-eight (88) credit hours, twelve (12) of which can derive from graduate philosophy courses. Based on the uniform allocation of credits for graduate philosophy courses, all classes being worth three (3) credit hours, a student may only apply four (4) courses towards the J.D. credit requirement.

Concerning the completion of the M.A. in Philosophy credit requirements, students must complete thirty (30) credit hours, twenty-four (24) of which must be derived from courses offered via the Graduate Philosophy Department. Based on the credit allocation to the aforementioned courses, three (3) credits, students are required to take eight (8) graduate philosophy courses. Concerning the six (6) additional credits needed to reach the thirty (30) credit requirement for the degree, students may use up to six (6) credits obtained by the completion of qualifying courses offered via the School of Law. Due to the fact that courses offered by the School of Law vary in regards to credit hours, usually between two (2) and three (3), participating students have flexibility concerning the manner in which the six (6) credits are obtained.

A 15-credit limitation, per semester, is placed on all students enrolled in the program, except for students engaging in their first year of legal study. Students are not permitted to take any graduate philosophy courses during the first year (day or evening) of law course work.

Candidates may begin in either the School of Law or McAnulty Graduate School of Liberal Arts.