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Philosophy | MA Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an application deadline?
Technically, no. The College of Arts and Sciences has rolling admissions. However, there is a deadline of February 1 for those students who want to be considered for an assistantship.

What is the department looking for in the writing sample that is part of the application process? How long should the paper be? Does it have to be an original paper or can it come from one of my courses?
The best writing sample is one that demonstrates competence in writing and the ability to use primary and/or secondary sources. Writing samples can be of any length, but keep in mind that the department is looking for quality of writing, not quantity. Most writing samples come out of applicants’ previous coursework, so there is no need to write a new paper for the sole purpose of the application.

The degree requirements mention the completion of qualifying papers. What are these?
Qualifying papers (QPs) are expanded versions of, and/or developed from, term papers written for graduate philosophy classes the student has taken at AU. Students work closely with two faculty readers during the revision process. The QP requirement is meant to provide students with the opportunity to 1) expand their knowledge of a subject area in which they are already interested, about which they have already studied in some depth, and in which they can develop further understanding and expertise and 2) refine research and writing skills beyond what is required for satisfactory completion of a course. Thus, the papers should reflect a significant deepening of the thinking and/or research from that evident in the original version of the paper. QPs will also ensure a broader selection of writing samples for applications to doctoral programs or employers, and provide opportunities for advancement in the profession, such as possible publication and/or presentation at professional conferences.