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FAQ

About the program

Ryerson is the only MA program in the GTA that allows you to write a Thesis or a Major Research Paper, so only at Ryerson will you have a chance to explore a topic in real depth. And because ours is a 5-term program, you’ll have more time to work closely with your professors. This means that we will be in a stronger position to support you wherever you decide to go after you finish your degree.

Finally, Ryerson is located in the heart of one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan cities, a city with a thriving philosophical culture. There is no better place to study philosophy.

Most of our students have an honours BA in philosophy. Our goal is to accept the best and most promising students that we can. If you are not sure whether you have the right sort of background, just ask our graduate program director.

What areas of philosophy do you specialize in?

Our faculty members work in all areas of philosophy, in both the continental and the analytic tradition. We have special strengths in the philosophy of religion, metaphysics and the philosophy of mind, social and political philosophy, philosophy of language, normative and applied ethics, contemporary continental philosophy, and in aesthetics. Here is a list of our faculty and their research interests.

In your first year, you’ll take a required Professional Seminar as well as 5 electives, 2 in the fall and 3 in the winter. Over the summer, you’ll do an Area Reading Requirement, which involves independent but guided research in a core area of philosophy.

In your second year you’ll write either a Major Research Paper (MRP) or a Thesis. If you do an MRP, you’ll also take 2 more electives that year, one each term. If you decide to do a Thesis, then that’s all you will work on in your second year.
 
As per the program’s breadth requirement, you must take at least one course in three of the following four core areas of philosophy: Continental Philosophy, History of Philosophy, Metaphysics & Epistemology, and Value Theory.

Students may follow either a Major Research Paper (MRP) stream or a Thesis stream.

Students pursuing the Major Research Paper stream take seven courses overall, while those in the Thesis stream take five courses.

All students are required to take at least one course in three of the following four core areas of philosophy:  Continental Philosophy, History of Philosophy, Metaphysics & Epistemology, and Value Theory.
 
Approximately the same number of courses in each of the four areas will be offered every year or over a two-year period.

During the summer between your first and second year, you will complete the Area Reading Requirement. This is an opportunity to do independent but guided research in a core area of philosophy. The aim is to help you get a running start on the research you’ll need to do for your MRP or Thesis.

Together with the program director and your supervisor, you will create a reading list and a set of questions to guide your research. You will be then required to submit some written work and to discuss your research progress with your supervisor.

You can see some sample area reading lists in the "Courses and Breadth Requirement" tab.

A Major Research Paper (MRP) is usually around 30-40 pages long, roughly modeled on a typical article in a philosophy journal. A Thesis is usually around 120 pages long, roughly modeled on a typical small monograph or book. Both are meant to be original contributions to a current philosophical debate. An oral defence is required for a thesis but not for an MRP.

If you decide to do an MRP, then you have to take an elective each term in your second year. If you decide to do a Thesis, then that is all you have to do in your second year. Both options have positives and negatives. This is an important decision, and we can help you make the decision that is right for you.

Every fall we offer the Professional Seminar designed especially for our first year MA students. We also offer 8 electives every year, three in the fall and five in the winter. In your first year, you’ll take 2 electives in the fall (out of 3 options) and 3 in the winter (out of 5 options.)

A typical seminar has between 8 and 13 students in it. This means that you’ll have a great opportunity to get to know the other students and your professors, and to have intimate discussions in class.

In Term 1, students complete the Professional Seminar, a course designed to introduce students to the professional skills needed to succeed in the program and in the general workplace.

In Terms 3 and 4, students conduct independent philosophical research towards the completion, in Term 5, of a Thesis or Major Research Paper.

Our faculty members work in all areas of philosophy, in both the continental and the analytic tradition. We have special strengths in the philosophy of religion, metaphysics and the philosophy of mind, social and political philosophy, philosophy of language, normative and applied ethics, contemporary continental philosophy, and in aesthetics. 

We believe that you can’t rush good philosophy. It takes time to master the intricacies of a philosophical debate. Our 5-term program is designed to provide you with a broad education across all areas and traditions in philosophy, while also giving you an opportunity to explore a topic in real depth. We believe that you’ll do better, will learn more, and will find the experience more fulfilling if you take your time.

Some students with an MA in philosophy go on to get a PhD in philosophy, with the aim of becoming a university professor. Others go on to law school or business school. Some go to teacher’s college with the aim of teaching philosophy in Ontario high schools. Still others go on to work in the private sector. Completing an MA will help sharpen your communication and critical thinking skills, skills that are valuable in any career and that contribute to a full and rich life.

We start considering applications in February every year, but we will continue to accept and consider applications until we have reached our enrolment targets. Applications are completed entirely on-line.

We aim to start sending out offers of admission in the early spring. If you haven’t heard, do not hesitate to contact the graduate program director.

Our goal is to enroll about 13 students each year. This means that we have about 26 students at any one time. So not only will you get to meet students in your own year, but you’ll get to watch as students in the year ahead of you finish up their program.

Experiential Learning

We are committed to providing a rich philosophical life outside the classroom.
Our annual speaker series brings 3 or 4 guest speakers to our department every semester. Graduate students are invited to the talks and we usually pay for one or two to come for dinner with the speaker.

We also have hosted and organized philosophy conferences and workshops, including workshops on Gilbert Ryle, on Hegel, on Merleau-Ponty, on Belief and Agency. And every spring we hold a Research Day when our faculty members and graduate students can share their research projects. 

For a sample of recent activities, check out our News and Events page.

It may be possible to spend one semester at a different university during your second year in the MA program. So far, we have had students spend a semester at Oxford University, MIT, Istanbul Bilgi University (Turkey), and the University of Texas at Austin. 

Our students have had papers accepted at peer-reviewed philosophy conferences across Canada, the US, Europe, and Asia. Conference participation is an important part of a graduate education, and Ryerson is committed to providing significant financial support from a variety of sources to cover travel costs when our students participate in conferences. (The typical level of funding from all sources combined is about $1000.) Ryerson’s Philosophy Graduate Student Association, external link also organizes an annual graduate student conference on campus.

Program cost & support

The fees for the program change every year, but are around $3000/term. 

Our goal is to provide every student with substantial and highly competitive financial support. Our letter offering you admission will specify exactly the amount of funding we will provide you.  The average funding for a first-year student (over three terms: fall, winter, spring/summer) is $21,200. Guaranteed   funding for a second-year student (over two terms: fall and winter) is $16,200.  There are several different sources of funding.

First year:

We will offer you paid work as a Teaching Assistant or Grader for the fall and winter terms.  This involves leading tutorial sections and grading tests in the undergraduate course SSH105 Critical Thinking or grading tests and essays in undergraduate philosophy courses.  The latter is a terrific way to learn philosophy. The normal contract is for 130 hours of work per semester (not including the summer, when there is no such work). The rate of pay changes every year, but is around $45/hour.  In total, this would amount to around $11,700.  

Second, you will be offered (a) an internal Ryerson scholarship or award by the Dean of Graduate Studies worth on average $7,000 and (b) Arts Grad Funding worth $2,500 for the spring-summer term.

Third, you may be offered a paid Research Assistant position, helping one of our faculty members with his or her research project.

Second year:

Subject to satisfactory performance in your prior paid work, you will be offered a Teaching Assistantship (in Critical Thinking, a philosophy undergraduate course, or a history of ideas course in Arts and Contemporary Studies) or a grading contract.  The normal contract is for 130 hours of work per semester.   In total, this would amount to around $11,700.

Finally, you should seriously consider applying for external scholarships to support your studies, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship. If you qualify for one of these awards, we’ll also help you apply for it in the fall of your first year to help fund your second year with us.

If you are not awarded an external scholarship for your second year, you will be offered a scholarship worth $4,500 by the Department of Philosophy.

Again, the letter offering you admission will specify in detail how much financial support you would receive and from what sources.

Many of our students have received prestigious scholarships, fellowships, and awards, such as Ryerson Graduate Scholarships, Ontario Graduate Scholarships, and various awards funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), including Canada Graduate Scholarships and Foreign Study Supplements.

Paid work as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Grading Assistant (GA) constitutes a large part of the financial support we provide our students. This usually involves grading essays and exams and leading tutorial sections in our undergraduate philosophy classes. The tutorial sections usually have about 25 students in them.

A normal TA/GA contract is for 130 hours per semester, paid at about $45/hour. This sort of work is only available during the fall and winter terms (not during the summer.)

Grading is often demanding work, but it is also one of the best ways to broaden your philosophical knowledge and to sharpen your writing skills.

Why should I choose a 2-year MA?

We believe that you can’t rush good philosophy. It takes time to master the intricacies of a philosophical debate. Our 5-term program is designed to provide you with a broad education across all areas and traditions in philosophy, while also giving you an opportunity to explore a topic in real depth. We believe that you’ll do better, will learn more, and will find the experience more fulfilling if you take your time.

What can I do with an MA in philosophy?

Some students with an MA in philosophy go on to get a PhD in philosophy, with the aim of becoming a university professor. Others go on to law school or business school. Some go to teacher’s college with the aim of teaching philosophy in Ontario high schools. Still others go on to work in the private sector. Completing an MA will help sharpen your communication and critical thinking skills, skills that are valuable in any career and that contribute to a full and rich life.

What are the application dates?

We start considering applications in February every year, but we will continue to accept and consider applications until we have reached our enrolment targets. Applications are completed entirely on-line.

How many students do you accept each year?

Our goal is to enroll about 13 students each year. This means that we have about 26 students at any one time. So not only will you get to meet students in your own year, but you’ll get to watch as students in the year ahead of you finish up their program.

When will I hear if I was accepted?

We aim to start sending out offers of admission in the early spring. If you haven’t heard, do not hesitate to contact the graduate program director.