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Academics

Master of Arts in Philosophy Program

Master of Arts in Philosophy

Program Description: The Master of Arts in Philosophy program is a course of study designed to give a broad acquaintance with the major philosophical disciplines. It is a flexible program, with a six year time limit from entry into the program to completion of the degree requirements. The program is designed to prepare men and women for ministry, teaching philosophy, religion or theology, for a subsequent Post Master’s Certificate in Theology, or for licentiate or doctoral work. Classes also serve as enrichment for persons in other professions wanting to deepen understanding of their faith or seeking to integrate their faith into their daily lives. Students may pursue one of four concentrations within the philosophy program, and these include Christian Wisdom, Ethics, History of Philosophy and Systematic Philosophy.

Degree Program Goals:

  1. To educate students in the history, major topics, and intellectual habits of Western philosophy, especially (a) in the rich diversity of the Catholic tradition, (b) in the distinctively Catholic ways of understanding the relationship between faith and reason, and (c) with consistent attention to the work of St. Thomas Aquinas
  2. To develop in students a coherent and detailed knowledge of their philosophical concentration, its developing methodologies, its current literature, its history, its major theoretical constructs, and its classical and current problems and insights
  3. To train students in the skills of academic research in philosophy, including the use of traditional and new media resources, as well as in the academic practices and styles common in the discipline
  4. To foster in students a deep comprehension of contemporary cultures and their philosophical roots, for the purposes of constructive dialogue, sound critical discernment, and participation in the work of Catholic evangelization

Degree Program Learning Outcomes: Students earning the MA in philosophy will be able to

  1. demonstrate advanced familiarity with the history and major topics of Western philosophy, including logic, epistemology, cosmology, anthropology, ethics, metaphysics, and natural theology, particularly but not exclusively as these are (a) treated in the broadly Catholic and Thomistic philosophical tradition, and (b) fields of inquiry where faith and reason may be mutually enriching
  2. demonstrate a coherent and detailed knowledge of their philosophical concentration, its developing methodologies, its current literature, its history, its major theoretical constructs, and its classical and current problems and insights
  3. demonstrate the ability to conduct research in the academic field of philosophy
  4. present, in a practical and popular way, philosophical doctrines that are particularly useful or even essential to giving an account of the doctrines of Catholic faith, whether by ordinary speech and writing or via new media of social communication, including such topics as the nature of truth, the nature of the human person, the immortality of the soul, and the existence of God
  5. describe and explain the role of the Western philosophical tradition in the development and explication of Christian doctrine in Christian antiquity, the Middle Ages, and in modern and postmodern contexts

Philosophy Degree Requirements

Core Curriculum (for all students who matriculated into the program fall 2014 or earlier)

All students must complete the prerequisite course - PHTH 600: Philosophy for Theologians - or have a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy.

Requirements for Master of Arts in Philosophy - 12 Credit Core Curriculum

  • PHE501 ‐ Ethics (note: this is a name change from PHL570 Moral Philosophy)
  • PHL590 ‐ Metaphysics
  • PHL725 ‐ Philosophy of Nature
  • PHL730 ‐ Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

The breakdown of courses is as follows:

History of Philosophy 2
Systematic Philosophy 5
Philosophical Theology 1
Topical Courses 3
Electives 1

For information on which courses fit into which categories, please see the Online Learning Courses of Instruction - Philosophy with course descriptions.

Core Curriculum (for all students who matriculate into the program spring 2015 or later)

All students pursuing the M.A. in Philosophy program must complete the propaedeutic courses PHH 605 Ancient and Medieval Philosophy and PHH 620 Modern and Contemporary Philosophy, or have a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy. While these courses do not qualify for degree program credit, they do provide a substantive and necessary foundation for those students seeking to enter graduate studies who have no previous background in philosophy.

Requirements for Master of Arts in Philosophy - 12 Credit Core Curriculum

  • PHE501: Ethics
  • PHS 551: Philosophical Anthropology
  • PHS 611: Logic and Epistemology
  • PHS 621: Philosophy of Nature and Metaphysics

Students may choose from among the following concentrations:

Concentration in Christian Wisdom

Chair: Dr. Peter Redpath

Courses provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of metaphysics. Topics include the One and the Many and the transcendentals of Beauty, Truth and Goodness.

Concentration Goals

  1.  To teach students about St. Thomas Aquinas’s metaphysical teaching as a philosophy, science, especially regarding what students of St. Thomas often call the “transcendentals” of being, unity, truth, good, and beauty.
  2. To enable students to understand how these subjects of study relate to habits of an acting person to comprise distinct, but essentially connected, principles of philosophy, science.
  3. Students will study texts that lay out the main metaphysical teachings of St. Thomas related to the transcendentals and their opposites and how these essentially relate to his teachings about the nature of philosophy, science. Metaphysical truths related to these transcendental principles that underlie Catholic Church teaching will be explained.

Concentration Outcomes

  1. Students will be able to identify St. Thomas’s teaching about each of the transcendentals and their respective opposites (for example, non-being, multiplicity, evil, ugliness).
  2. Beyond understanding St. Thomas’s teaching about the transcendentals and their opposites, students will be able to explain St. Thomas Aquinas’s teachings about faculties and habits of the person and the transcendentals and their opposites, opposition; possession, privation, principles; causes; quantity; quality; virtual quantity; relation; measures; abstraction; and how all the preceding relate to his teaching about science, philosophy, and its unity, divisions, methods, and foundation in sense wonder; how to identify the subject of a science, or division of philosophy; will understand his teaching about predication; analogy; the nature of genera and species; and understand how and why the genus that the philosopher, scientist, studies differs from that of a logician.
  3. By means of papers, exams, orals, and media, students will show that they understand the pros and cons of major issues in St. Thomas related to all the preceding topics, how philosophical, metaphysical truths, including truths about the human person, underlie all philosophy, science, and Catholic teachings, and the damaging effects that can result to a culture from failure to realize this metaphysical foundation.

Concentration in Ethics

Concentration Chair: Dr. Ronda Chervin

Courses provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of Aristotelian and Thomistic ethics. Topics include the fonts of morality, natural law, the nature of virtue, medical ethics, and sexual ethics.

Concentration Goals

  1. To teach students about the main ethical theories concerning acts and virtues in Western philosophy with a special emphasis on Thomistic ethics.
  2. To teach students how to examine and refute ethical skepticism and relativism.
  3. To provide students with texts that lay out the main pros and cons about ethical issues such as social justice, abortion, war and peace, and sexual ethics and explain philosophical truths underlying Catholic Church teachings.

Concentration Outcomes

  1. Students will be able to identify the theories behind popular opinions about ethical norms.
  2. Students will be able to explain the problems with theories of skepticism and relativism.
  3. By means of papers, exams, orals, and media, students will show that they understand the pros and cons of major issues of our times and how philosophical ethical truths underlie Catholic teachings.

Concentration in History of Philosophy

Concentration Chair: Dr. Randall Colton

Courses provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of the history of philosophical thought from the pre-Socratic period to the present day. Emphasis is placed on Ancient, Arabic, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary philosophy.

Concentration Goals

  1. To enable students to understand philosophical themes and arguments in their proper historical context.
  2. To enable students to understand the develop of ideas from one epoch to another.
  3. To enable students to interpret historical philosophical texts with accuracy and charity.

Concentration Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to think critically within the discipline.
  2. Students will connect historical trends to contemporary issues.

Concentration in Systematic Philosophy

Chair: Dr. John Finley

Courses provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of nature, human nature, and human thought from a Roman Catholic perspective. Topics include epistemology, metaphysics, categorical logic, philosophy of nature, and the study of the soul.

Concentration Goals

  1. To educate students in the major thematic branches of Western Philosophy.
  2. To cultivate within students intellectual habits and methodologies appropriate to the various areas of systematic philosophy.

Concentration Outcomes

  1. To demonstrate advanced familiarity with the major thematic branches of Western philosophy: metaphysics, natural theology, logic, epistemology, philosophy of nature, anthropology, and various related topics.
  2. To demonstrate a facility with the methods of philosophical inquiry.

Summative Evaluation

The Summative Evaluation is the capstone of the student’s academic work in the M.A. program at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. All candidates for the M.A. degree are required to complete a Summative Evaluation exercise, which may take the form of a thesis or a comprehensive exam. Full descriptions of the Summative Evaluation exercise are available on the Summative Evaluation page.

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