Combined BA & MA in Philosophy

In today's economic climate, the MA is the new BA. The MA programs offered by the department of Philosophy and Religion afford opportunities to work at higher levels in the field, but extend beyond academic study to put those skills to work in internship opportunities for graduate students. In addition to time and cost savings, the BA/MA in philosophy prepares students for law school better than the BA alone. LSAT scores are generally higher and the best law schools are more interested in applicants who hold the MA. Students who want to define their interests in philosophy more sharply, or gain more perspective and confidence before applying to doctoral or professional programs, also benefit from doing the BA/MA. Interested students apply to the undergraduate degree first, and then must apply to the MA program after they have completed 75 earned credit hours (the second semester of their junior year). Admission is open to undergraduates whose overall GPA is 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale).


  • All requirements for the BA major in philosophy are to be completed before the following requirements.
  • All requirements for the MA in philosophy are to be completed after the above requirements.
  • Students may use up to 9 credit hours (for History of Philosophy, and Philosophy and Social Policy) or 12 credit hours (for Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs) at or above the 500 level to satisfy the requirements for both the BA and the MA.

How to Prepare for This Option

  • Work toward completing all your undergraduate requirements first.
  • During the second semester of your junior year, apply online to the MA program. The year and term for which you are applying must be the semester after you expect to graduate from your BA program. For example, a student intending to graduate from the BA program at the end of spring 2015 would apply to enter the MA program for either summer 2015 or fall 2015.

Once you have been accepted to the combined program:

  • Meet with the department's graduate advisor to determine your Program of Study that will show which courses will be applied toward your undergraduate degree and which courses will be applied toward your graduate degree. The graduate advisor will obtain permission from the CAS Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for you to take during your senior year any courses in your Program of Study that are at the 600-level or above (you will not be able to register for these courses through the portal).
  • Pick up a Graduate Handbook in Battelle-Tompkins 120 or online.

During your senior year:

  • Complete all undergraduate requirements.
  • In accordance with your prescribed Program of Study, take 3 (for History of Philosophy, and Philosophy and Social Policy) or 4 (for Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs) of the philosophy courses that count for your BA at the 500 level or above (these will also count toward your MA once you graduate from the BA).
  • Apply for graduation for your BA in the semester in which you will finish all the BA requirements (do not wait until later as this will cause problems with your MA).

Please note that students must maintain continuous enrollment at American University. Once the BA is complete, students must continue through to the MA program (summer term is not required).