Online Master’s Degree in Philosophy

Philosophy is the study of human thought and existence as well as the nature of knowledge and the development of morality and values. There have been many notable individuals who have helped shape academic thought over thousands of years of human history, such as Plato, Socrates, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Rene Descartes, who is widely considered to be the father of modern philosophy. If you’re interested in philosophy and want to expand your critical thinking and problem-solving skills, you may want to consider enrolling in a master’s degree program in philosophy.

A philosophy master’s degree is offered on the campuses of traditional colleges and universities and through distance-learning programs. The online format enables students to complete their coursework without having to set aside responsibilities they may have to their family or their employer. A typical online master’s degree in philosophy program requires the completion of at least 36 credit hours before graduation, though the length of the program may vary by institution.

Classes for an Online Master’s Degree in Philosophy

Many online philosophy master’s degree programs are designed to expose students to the major philosophical schools of thought and prepare them to teach philosophy, religion, theology, or to apply to a doctoral program. As such, students may enroll in courses such as moral philosophy, metaphysics, ancient and medieval philosophy, and social capital and values. A social capital and values course may cover the various definitions of social capital ó the relationships and norms that shape a society’s social interactions ó and how it affects business and politics. The course may also examine business ethics and political philosophy. Meanwhile, a metaphysics course typically covers issues concerning existence, personal identity, the mind-body problem, and causation. Common philosophy courses include:

  • Moral Philosophy
  • Metaphysics
  • Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
  • Social Capital and Values
  • Philosophy of Education

Before a student graduates he or she may need to complete a proseminar and a master’s paper. A proseminar is a course that emphasizes discussion more than lecture, with topics typically chosen by the instructor, and the master’s paper is a research essay that must be of a professional quality. Some programs may instead require students to pass a comprehensive examination that covers the history of philosophy, metaphysics, human nature, and more before they graduate. However, each college or university’s academic requirements differ, so check with your school to see what its requirements are.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Master’s Degree in Philosophy

A master’s degree in philosophy may give students the critical thinking and analytical skills that are valued in many industries, including business, economics, medicine, publishing, and theology. Graduates can also use their master’s degree as a launching pad for further study on the doctoral level which would qualify them to teach philosophy at a college or university. A college or university professor ó also known as a postsecondary teacher ó teaches courses, develops a curriculum, plans lessons, grades students assignments and exams, and publishes original research in academic journals. Philosophy and religion teachers earned a median annual salary of $65,100 in May 2011, and the top 10% earned at least $116,970, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment of postsecondary teachers, including philosophy professors, is expected to increase 17% from 2010-2020, which is about as fast as average for all occupations. Job opportunities are expected to be particularly strong at private for-profit institutions, which have seen a growth in enrollment recently. Employment at public colleges and universities will depend on state and local government budgets, according to the BLS. However, these projections are no guarantee of salary of opportunity of employment, which is determined by the condition of the economy, location, and hiring organization.


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