Master of Arts Programs in Philosophy — Rules and Requirements

See below for the MD/MA and JD/MA dual-degree programs.

The Philosophy department offers a program leading to the degree of Master of Arts. The department's requirements are (1) 32 points (eight 4-point courses) of graduate study, at least 24 in residence at New York University and 24 in the department (courses taken outside the department must receive departmental approval); (2) a substantial research paper of appropriate quality, which may be written either in connection with a seminar or under the supervision of a departmental adviser and which must receive a grade of B+ or better.

A student's academic performance and status in the program are subject to periodic review by the department.

Dual-degree Programs and Other Activities

Students at the New York University School of Law may pursue an JD/MA dual-degree program in law and philosophy. Students at the School of Medicine may pursue an MD/MA dual-degree program in medicine and philosophy. In each case, students must meet the admission requirements of both schools.

Graduate students in the Philosophy department may also enroll in pertinent Law School classes, and, if qualified, may attend classes under the auspices of the Law School's Program in Law, Philosophy, and Social Theory.

In addition, the Philosophy department sponsors frequent colloquia, at which the research of faculty or invited speakers is presented.

MD/MA Program

Students who want to pursue a dual MD/MA must apply separately to the MD Program in the School of Medicine and the MA Program in the Philosophy department. Students have to satisfy the requirements for an MD and also for an MA but some courses can be counted twice. Further information is available from Philosophy's Director of Admissions.

JD/MA Program


Contemporary legal theory as it is done in law schools is strongly involved with certain areas of philosophy: philosophical jurisprudence, ethics, political philosophy, theory of knowledge, philosophy of language and philosophy of science. Philosophical questions often arise in the discussion of issues in constitutional law and criminal law. There is also an important connection in the other direction: issues in ethical and political theory often depend on and are informed by issues having to do with judicial interpretation. Further, and most important, there are significant questions about the evaluation of legal institutions that cannot be approached in a serious way without a substantial background in both law and philosophy.


Persons interested in the dual-degree program must file separate applications to each school. The School of Law and the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) admit applicants independently, on the basis of their usual standards. Application can be made simultaneously, but a student already enrolled in one program can also apply and be admitted to the other subsequently. Application for financial aid must also be made to the two schools separately.

Students interested in applying for a dual degree should inform both the Law School Admission Office and Philosophy's Director of Admissions.


The Law School requires 82 credits of study for the JD. However, in the dual-degree Program, up to 12 Law School credits for courses in GSAS may be applied in satisfaction of this requirement. Courses that are cross-listed in both the Law School and GSAS are counted in each institution according to the listed number of credits or points. For courses that are not cross-listed, Law School credits will be assigned to GSAS courses on the basis of the number of class hours. So 12 Law School credits will normally correspond to six GSAS seminars (24 GSAS points).

GSAS requires 32 points for the MA. However, in the dual-degree program, credit for up to two one-term courses in the Law School may be applied toward the MA. The Philosophy department requires 24 points in courses in the Philosophy department or taught by members of the Philosophy department. Depending on subject matter, courses taught in the Law School by joint or affiliated members of the Philosophy department may count toward this requirement.

Among the courses in the Law School suitable to count towards the MA are:

  • Contemporary Political Theory and Law
  • Introduction to Jurisprudence
  • Recent Analytical Jurisprudence
  • Constitutional Law
  • Current Constitutional Issues
  • First Amendment Freedoms
  • Colloquium on Law, Philosophy and Political Theory
  • Colloquium in Constitutional Theory

Among the graduate Philosophy courses suitable to count toward the JD are:

  • Life and Death
  • Freedom and Moral Responsibility
  • Political Philosophy
  • Contemporary Ethical Theory
  • Ethics: Selected Topics
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Science

But other courses may also be possible and each student's program is individually designed in consultation with the advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

The MA in Philosophy requires a substantial research paper of appropriate quality, which may be written either in connection with a seminar or under the individual supervision of a departmental advisor, and which must receive a grade of B+ or better.

A student's academic performance and status in the program are subject to periodic review by the Philosophy department.