Graduate Program in Philosophy

Elevate your understanding

Our M.A. program is designed to elevate your previous undergraduate work. You’ll dive deeper into existing philosophical cannon, catch up with some of the latest debates in the field and work in collaboration with your peers to refine your skills in a tight-knit and supportive atmosphere. You will also have the opportunity to meet with visiting speakers and discuss ideas with leading scholars in their fields.

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Master of Arts in Philosophy

In our Master of Arts in Philosophy program, students will study a broad range of general areas of philosophy as well as topics within contemporary philosophy driven by our faculty members' ongoing research. Students work with a faculty advisor to decide which track and plan will best suit their career goals and to develop a course plan. Both a General Philosophy track and an Ethics, Law and Politics track is offered; each with a thesis and non-thesis option.

General track

The General Philosophy track is designed for students who intend to apply to Ph.D. programs in philosophy, teach philosophy at the community college level, those who seek a philosophy degree for the grounding it provides for other areas of study (e.g., law, science, practical ethics, theology), or who wish to acquire a deeper understanding of philosophical traditions and contemporary developments.

Ethics, Law and Politics track

The ethics, law and politics track provides students with the opportunity to explore central debates - both historical and contemporary - in social, political, ethical and legal philosophy. Students will work under faculty members with research specializations in areas of value theory, such as liberal and democratic theory, feminism, Marxism and critical theory, among others.

Master's degree coursework, two plan options

The program requires the student to fulfill specified coursework over the course of the student's degree. Students have two plan options to complete the M.A. degree, and the number of credits required depends on the track the student takes to complete the degree. Students should discuss with their advisor which track and plan is appropriate for them given their academic and career objectives.

Plan A: Thesis option (30 credits)

The thesis option is highly recommended for students who think they may go on later to graduate work at the doctoral level. For students who may pursue a Ph.D. later, this option gives them experience with writing a significant piece of original research that may lay the foundation for work they complete in future graduate programs. This writing is crucial for professors to evaluate their ability to perform at a higher level and will often form the basis for letters of recommendation to Ph.D. programs.

Plan B: Non-thesis option (33 credits)

The non-thesis option is recommended for students who are already established in their career fields and are seeking to use their degrees for professional advancement. Graduate students who choose the non-thesis option for their M.A. degree program must write a professional paper of approximately 3,000-words and present the professional paper at a departmental colloquium. The student will be evaluated on both the written text of the paper and oral presentation, including their handling of questions during the discussion period.

Program requirements

Review program requirements for the M.A. in Philosophy in the course catalog.

Program handbook

See what the department offers and expects of successful graduate students.

Program faculty

Meet program faculty for the M.A. in Philosophy.

Ethics, Law and Politics Graduate Certificate

The Ethics, Law and Politics Graduate Certificate is tailored for graduate students seeking to complement their primary field of study with expertise in ethical theory, philosophy of law and political philosophy. This certificate empowers scholars to engage in interdisciplinary exploration and bolsters their qualifications. It's valuable for those pursuing law or medicine, students in fields like political science, social work and history, as well as individuals interested in comprehending the interplay of politics, ethics and legal systems. Offering improved employability both within and beyond academia, this certificate provides a focused study and continuous learning opportunity for personal enrichment in philosophy. Please note that students solely enrolled in this program are ineligible for Federal Financial Aid.

Certificate coursework (12 credits)

Students must take at least one three-unit course in each of the following two groups:

A. Topical group (at least one course)

  • PHIL 650 - Ethical Theory (3 units)
  • PHIL 653 - Topics in Philosophy of Law (3 units)
  • PHIL 654 - Global Ethics and Justice (3 units)
  • PHIL 657 - Political Philosophy (3 units)

B. Historical group (at least one course)

Any 600- or 700-level course that focuses on value theory in the thought of one or more historical philosophers. Students may, with approval from the Graduate Coordinator, substitute a 600 or 700-level independent study course or a selected topics course in value theory in either Group A or B.

How to apply

Applicants should submit a letter of intent and a recent writing sample to the department's Director of Graduate Studies detailing their interests, goals, and motivation for pursuing the certificate. The writing sample should showcase their aptitude for philosophical work. Applications for the certificate program are accepted on a rolling basis, and acceptance notifications will be provided by the Graduate Coordinator.

B.A./M.A. Accelerated Program, Philosophy

The accelerated BA/MA program in Philosophy is intended to encourage outstanding students in the Philosophy B.A. program at the University of Nevada, Reno to continue on to pursue an M.A. degree in Philosophy at the University over a shorter period of time. Students enrolled in the accelerated program can potentially obtain either a Plan A (Thesis) or Plan B (Professional Paper) Philosophy M.A. degree by the end of their fifth year of study. The accelerated program allows qualified undergraduate students (who typically apply in their junior year) in Philosophy to take up to 12 credits of graduate-level courses and apply those to their undergraduate degree. They may also apply the same graduate credits to a graduate degree in Philosophy at the University of Nevada, Reno if they apply and are admitted to the program.

Questions? Pleae contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor David Rondel.


This program is part of the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), a tuition-savings program that makes out-of-state graduate studies more affordable for students. Through WRGP, you will receive a reduced tuition rate, giving you more educational options for your money.

Application process and requirements


Graduate school admission requirements

Graduate school admission requirements vary for domestic, international, and graduate special applicants. Select from the options below to learn more.

Virtual open houses

Each fall and spring semester, the Graduate School hosts multiple free, online Virtual Open Houses. Register in advance to learn about the University’s on-campus and online graduate programs and get questions answered by faculty, staff and current graduate students.

Graduate student housing

Interested in living on campus? Learn more about Ponderosa Village, an on-campus community for graduate students and their families.