Questions about Terminal MAs at PhD-Granting Programs

A philosophy professor advising an undergraduate, who did not major in philosophy, about her options for graduate school quite reasonably suggested she first pursue a Master’s degree. He let her know about a number of well known terminal MA programs (most of which are on Geoff Pynn’s list, discussed here). She had found out a little about some MA programs that mostly do not appear on the list, though: ones at PhD-granting programs. 

Examples include a course of study at Columbia University “intended both for students who are seeking a free-standing MA in philosophy, and for students interested in receiving further training in philosophy before applying to Ph.D. programs in philosophy,” an MA program at NYU, and the general MA program at Stanford. There are more at various other PhD-granting programs. (If you’re at one that is actively accepting applications but is not on Pynn’s list, feel free to mention it in the comments here.)

My corresponding professor had some questions about these programs:

  • Are most of the students at these programs students who applied to the PhD program at the same school but were not admitted?
  • Does the profile of students accepted to these programs tend to differ from those of students in terminal MA programs in departments that lack PhD programs?
  • Are MA students at these programs provided with any funding or tuition waivers?
  • Do the MA students get as much attention, or adequate attention, from the faculty?
  • Do these programs tend to get involved in placing students in PhD programs, and if so, do they have publicly accessible placement records?
  • If you have been a student in one of these programs, what should an applicant or new student know about them?

Thanks for helping with this.

Carmen Herrera, "Alpes"

Carmen Herrera, “Alpes”


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