Master's Requirements

There are two ways to earn a master's degree in philosophy at the University of Oregon:

Coursework Track

Satisfy the second language requirement and complete at least 48 credits of graduate course work, including the completion of the distribution requirements listed below.

Thesis Track

Satisfy the second language requirement, write a master’s thesis under the direction of a thesis advisor, and complete at least 45 credits of graduate course work, nine of which can be taken as “thesis credits.”

MA Progress-to-Degree Checklist

Course Distribution Requirements

The distribution requirements can be satisfied by receiving a mid-B or better in the following:

Four Philosophical Traditions

  • American
  • Analytic
  • Continental
  • Feminism

In each of these four traditions, either an advanced introductory course must be completed (offered as a 500-level course) or, if the requirement for the introduction course is waived for a tradition (by approval of the director of graduate studies), then at least one graduate course within that tradition must be completed.

Emerging and Engaged Philosophies

Students must explore emerging and engaged areas of philosophical work, as this work not only challenges more established traditions but also puts into question the prevailing ways in which a tradition is understood. Students must also explore how such work bears upon real-world issues.

This requirement helps inform both the teaching and the research of our graduate students. Students must complete two courses in Emerging Philosophies, such as Critical Race Theory, Latin American Philosophy, Native American Philosophy, Feminist Philosophy, and LGBTQ Philosophy.

Students must also complete one course that focuses on how these various philosophical traditions and strands are engaged with lived experiences and problems. Some examples include Environmental Philosophy, Biomedical Ethics, Animal Ethics, and Data Ethics.

History of Philosophy

One course in each of the following three historical periods must be completed:

  • Ancient
  • Modern
  • 19th Century

Criteria for Multiple Fulfillment

Graduate courses may be listed as counting toward the fulfillment of multiple categories of distribution simultaneously, though this is possible for only some of the categories.

A course may count toward one Historical Period while also fulfilling a Philosophical Tradition or a course in Emerging and Engaged Philosophies. Courses may count toward either a Philosophical Tradition or the Emerging and Engaged requirement, but no course may count toward both of these requirements at once.

For example, a course in 19th century feminist philosophy can count toward either the requirement in the Feminist Tradition or in Emerging and Engaged Philosophies (but not both) and at the same time fulfill a requirement for Historical Periods.

When a course is listed to provide an option for fulfillment of either the Traditions or Emergent & Engaged requirements, students must choose which requirement the course is to fulfill.

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Language Proficiency Requirement

To graduate with an advanced degree in philosophy from UO, students must demonstrate proficiency in a second language equivalent to two years of study in that language at the college level. The language must be approved by the student’s advisor and should be relevant to the student’s philosophical interests.

Proficiency may be demonstrated by:

  • Providing an official transcript that shows a passing grade in second-year language coursework (normally the 201, 202, 203 sequence; although second-year competency may also be demonstrated by passing a 300-level language course for which 203 is a prerequisite).
  • Successfully testing out (for more information on second-year language tests, contact the UO Testing Center at or 541-346-3230).

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Thesis Requirements

A student electing the Thesis Track for the master's degree will ask two faculty members to serve as their master’s committee, with one agreeing to serve as chair. The student will prepare a short (maximum five pages) description of the proposed thesis topic for approval by the committee. The topic should be sufficiently limited in scope so that it can be adequately treated in approximately 50-75 double-spaced typewritten pages.

Once both committee members have approved the thesis proposal, the student will register for up to nine hours of thesis credit (PHIL 503) during the one or two terms over which the thesis is written. Typically, the committee chair will meet periodically with the student to assess progress and to oversee the writing of the thesis.

When both members of the thesis committee agree that the thesis is suitable for a final defense, the candidate will schedule a one-hour oral examination, during which the committee members will ask questions about the argument and make any suggestions for further revision, if necessary.

The thesis is completed when it is given final approval by both members of the committee and is accepted by the Graduate School as satisfying its requirements for thesis preparation.

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Leaves of Absence

Master's students are eligible for a maximum of three academic terms of on-leave status, regardless of reason, throughout the master's degree program. The online leave request form must be submitted on or before the last day to register for classes in the term for which leave is requested.

The time limit for program completion is not extended for an approved on-leave request when taken for the following reasons:

  • Family emergencies
  • Independent research
  • Other

An approved on-leave request will automatically extend your time limit for program completion by the same number of terms of approved leave, e.g., an approved leave of one term will extend the time limit by one term, only for the following reasons:

  • The student’s serious health/medical condition
  • Parenting needs during the 12 months immediately following a child’s birth or placement in the home

On-Leave Request for Master’s Students

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Criteria Used to Assess Satisfactory Progress

The criteria used to assess satisfactory progress toward a graduate degree in philosophy are detailed above. Deviation from the timeline should be discussed with the director of graduate studies, who will generate and approve an academic plan toward retaining or restoring satisfactory progress and good standing.


  • Maintain a GPA of 3.3 or better (the GPA will be computed for course work meeting the requirements of the graduate degree;
  • At any one time, a student shall have no more than 7 credit hours of incomplete course work;
  • The number of courses taken toward the graduate degree on a P/NP basis shall not exceed 21 credit hours (excluding thesis, dissertation, Research and Reading credits).

Assessing Satisfactory Progress

The faculty committee will evaluate all graduate students for satisfactory progress toward degree annually in the spring term. This evaluation will be based on information provided by the director of graduate studies, the graduate advisor (student’s thesis or dissertation director) if applicable, and other faculty who have taught or supervised the student.

Failure to make satisfactory progress toward the graduate degree jeopardizes the graduate employee position and places a block on future registration. Procedure to remedy will be implemented upon discussion between the student, the graduate advisor (if applicable), and the director of graduate studies.

Upon regaining satisfactory progress status, the director of graduate studies in consultation with the student’s graduate advisor (student’s thesis or dissertation director if applicable) will provide a written statement of recommendation about strength of work already completed and of support for the student’s new timetable for advancement and completion. Failure to remedy will result in disqualification from the department’s degree program.

The Division of Graduate Studies has additional requirements for satisfactory and unsatisfactory progress.

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Graduate Division Requirements

In addition to specific Department of Philosophy requirements, master’s candidates must satisfy all graduate school requirements as listed on the Division of Graduate Studies website.

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