Philosophy is the oldest academic discipline, having given birth over two millennia to logic, ethics, physics, psychology, computer science, the last two in the last century alone. While philosophers themselves quarrel about the nature of the subject, this is because it is the discipline that must ask foundational questions concerning all forms of knowledge, including itself.
Philosophy has disparate branches; to name a few: ethics, political philosophy, logic, philosophy of language and of mind, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of the natural and social sciences, aesthetics. What seems to unite them is their concern with questions not normally answerable by science or empirical investigation alone; hence their reliance on abstract thought, and emphasis on conceptual and logical clarity.
The training in argumentative clarity that is basic to philosophy explains why disciplines such as law value philosophy degrees so highly. Many philosophy graduates who do not pursue philosophy as a career find their philosophical training invaluable as a pathway to careers in law, politics, psychology, linguistics, mathematics, computer science, and the natural sciences. Others pursue careers in philosophy and retain a life-long interest in its subject matter. Indeed, philosophy has had a profound influence on the past century, from the invention of computers to the movements for gender equality, animal rights, and multicultural accommodation, and on debates over democracy, liberty and equality, world poverty and global responsibility, abortion, linguistic meaning and truth, and the nature of consciousness.
Our faculty has diverse interests, and a wide range of expertise in contemporary philosophy as well as the history of philosophy. Both the analytic and continental traditions are well-represented. The entire faculty is bilingual, and the department offers programs and courses in both English and French.
Master's Programs in Philosophy
The MA in Philosophy offers students the opportunity to pursue the discipline in an intense and sustained way, acquiring knowledge and a set of skills that are valuable for future work either within or outside the university. A number of graduates from our program enroll in doctoral programs both here and abroad, while others pursue careers in education, law, government, and other areas.
The MA with thesis is a two-year program, in which students take four seminars, and then write and defend a thesis proposal and a thesis. A substantial stand-alone degree, it also provides excellent preparation for doctoral studies.
We also offer an MA by coursework. This is a one-year program, in which students complete eight seminars.
Finally, an accelerated route leading from the MA program into the PhD program is also available. Students choosing this option are considered for the PhD after taking six courses and writing a major research paper.
More details on these programs are available at this page: Philosophy MA.
Collaborative Master's Programs
The department also offers two collaborative MA programs, which combine Philosophy with either Medieval and Renaissance Studies or Women's Studies. In these programs, students take three Philosophy seminars, two graduate courses in a second discipline, and write a thesis based on interdisciplinary research. More details on these programs are available at these pages:
The PhD in Philosophy offers students a pathway into academic careers in Philosophy and, depending on the specialization, in neighbouring disciplines across the humanities and social and natural sciences, as well as in newer fields such as cognitive science. Doctoral graduates from philosophy also go into other fields such as civil service careers and academic publishing, and into both research- and teaching-focused careers within academia.
For the PhD in Philosophy, students take six seminars and a comprehensive examination, and then write and defend a thesis proposal and a thesis.
The comprehensive exam structure and course offering, as well as workshops and colloquia, provides our doctoral students with exposure to a broad range of approaches to philosophy, from both current and historical periods and across the analytic and continental traditions, in both English and French.
Doctoral students also have opportunities for part-time teaching, as well as assistantships in teaching, research and student mentoring.
Students enrolled in the MA program may also apply to enter the doctoral programme by an accelerated route, without graduating the MA programme (see above).
More details on this program are available at this page: Philosophy Ph.D.
Collaborative Doctoral Program
The department also offers a collaborative doctoral program with Canadian and Aboriginal Studies, for students wishing to enrich their training in Philosophy by including an interdisciplinary component in Canadian and Aboriginal Studies.
In this program, the proposed topic must be approved by both the Department of Philosophy and the Canadian Studies Graduate Committee. At least one of the examiners of the thesis must be a person chosen in consultation with the executive committee of the Institute of Canadian and Aboriginal Studies.
More details on this program are available at this page:
Financial Aid and Awards
Canadian and permanent residents: MA students with a GPA of at least 8.0 (A-) are eligible to receive an Admission Scholarship for one year (coursework option) or two years (thesis option) which includes employment as a teaching assistant (or in some cases, research assistantships or other roles such as student mentoring).
PhD students with a GPA of at least 8.0 are eligible to receive an Admission Scholarship for the first four years of doctoral study, including employment as above.
Each Faculty also has a quota of full and partial Admissions Scholarships available to international graduate students with a GPA of at least 8.0, which again includes employment as above.
A differential tuition fee exemption for new international students enrolled full time in a French-language program means that their tuition fees can be reduced to those paid by Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
Both MA and PhD students can also apply for additional funding for research and conference travel. The Department of Philosophy also has departmental scholarships that students can apply for.
If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident applying for graduate study in Ontario, you may qualify for funding from the Ontario Graduate Scholarship program (OGS) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
International students can also apply for OGS awards.
Be aware that scholarship applications are due earlier than graduate program applications—usually in November or December of the year before you plan to begin your studies. The Department provides students with information, advice, and feedback on their scholarship application statements. For more information, contact the Director of Graduate Studies.