Department of Philosophy and Comparative Religion

Graduate Studies

Master of Arts in Philosophy

The Master of Arts in Philosophy program provides an opportunity for graduate study to individuals with a serious interest in philosophy. Inquiries are welcome from students whose primary background is in another field or academic discipline. The program regularly offers courses in all the major areas of philosophy, meeting the needs of those who are preparing to enter a Ph.D. program, as well as those studying for personal or professional enrichment.

Current faculty information can be located on the Cleveland State University Faculty Profile page

Financial Assistance

The department awards several teaching assistantships each year. A student interested in applying for an assistantship should write a letter to the Graduate Advisor requesting consideration when he or she submits an application for graduate admission.
Career Information

Graduates of the Master of Arts in Philosophy degree program have gone on to successfully complete Ph.D. programs, to graduate from law school or medical school; and to teach at the community college level.

Admission Information

To be admitted to the program, the student must satisfy College of Graduate Studies requirements for admission. Although an undergraduate major in philosophy is not required, some study in philosophy beyond the introductory level is strongly recommended. A background in the history of philosophy and in logic is especially important, and deficiencies in these areas must be made up early in the student’s graduate career. To be considered for admission, a student must submit an application form, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts from all academic institutions attended.

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Degree Requirements

All students must meet University degree requirements stated in the front section of this Catalog.

Core Requirements

1. Thirty-two (32) credits are required for graduation. These must include at least one course in two of the following areas:

The remaining courses must be selected in accordance with either the thesis option or the non-thesis option.

2. Every student must pass a written comprehensive examination.

  • Students in the general MA program must demonstrate proficiency in the history of philosophy. The examination is divided into two parts: 1) Ancient and Medieval Philosophy and 2) Modern and 19th-20th Century Philosophy. The two parts may be taken in different semesters. Students may not take either part of the examination more than three times. Works involved in topics on the comprehensive exam are regularly covered in seminars on prominent philosophers and movements (PHL 505, PHL 510). Students are not expected to take the examination prior to completing sixteen hours of graduate work, but may take it anytime thereafter. Students should consult with the graduate advisor about the comprehensive examination early in their graduate study.
  • Philosophy of science, metaphysics, or epistemology.
  • Ethics, aesthetics, or social and political philosophy.
  • Logical theory.
  • Students in the bioethics concentration are examined on the history of ethics, ethical theory, and bioethics.

Thesis Option

Before registering for PHL 699 (Thesis), students must receive formal approval of their proposed thesis topic from the department and the College of Graduate Studies. Students should consult with the Graduate Advisor in the semester prior to their first registration for PHL 699. The program for students who elect to write a thesis must meet the following conditions:

1. A minimum of twenty-four credits in courses other than PHL 614, PHL 689, PHL 691, PHL 696, and PHL 699.
2. No more than eight credits for research and thesis courses (PHL 696 and PHL 699).
3. Completion of an acceptable thesis under the direction of a departmental faculty member. Three copies of the thesis must be submitted to the Graduate Advisor at least six weeks prior to the expected date of graduation. Three readers, including the thesis advisor, will examine the student in an oral defense. One reader may be chosen from another discipline related to the thesis topic. The endorsement of the thesis by all three readers will constitute formal acceptance by the department. Two bound copies of the thesis are required by the department.

Non Thesis Option

The program for students who elect the non-thesis option must meet the following conditions:

1. A minimum of twenty-eight credits in courses other than PHL 614, PHL 689, PHL 691, PHL 696, and PHL 699, three of which must be courses requiring substantial papers
2. No more than four credits of PHL 696.

Concentration in Bioethics

Students who complete the core requirements in Philosophy and the requirements for Bioethics Certification (see Graduate Certificate in Advanced Study in Bioethics section of this Catalog) can receive a Master of Arts in Philosophy with a Concentration in Bioethics. Students in this concentration must take the Bioethics comprehensive examination.

Graduate Certificate in Advanced Study in Bioethics

The Philosophy Department offers a course of study leading to a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Study in Bioethics. The certificate program is designed primarily for individuals involved in health care practice, research, or administration, for whom questions of ethics arise on a daily basis. The curriculum provides grounding in the essentials of bioethical reasoning and practice for nurses, physicians, social workers, researchers, hospital administrators and other health care professionals.

Faculty Research

Professor Sonya Charles joined the faculty in 2007. She specializes in women's reproductive health issues and has published articles on assisted reproductive technology and illegal drug use during pregnancy. Professor Emeritus, Joseph DeMarco, is the author of Moral Theory and numerous articles on ethics. He developed the web-based courses that are part of the certificate program. Professor Martin Harvey completed a bioethics fellowship at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. He has published articles on the philosophy of law and social philosophy. Professor Samuel Richmond is the author of articles on ethics, theories of justice, philosophy of law, and social work practice. Professor Allyson Robichaud also completed a bioethics fellowship at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She has published on the role of emotion in the clinical setting and on issues concerning care of the aged.

Admission Information

Degree-seeking graduate students who hold Regular admission status may be admitted to the certificate program. Those wishing only to earn the certificate may do so and can indicate this on their application form. Alternatively, the applicant must meet the graduate certificate admission requirements detailed in the Admissions section of this Catalog. Credits earned for the Graduate Certificate in Advanced Study in Bioethics may apply toward a graduate degree as approved by the student’s graduate program director and in keeping with the policies of the College of Graduate Studies. With program permission, non-degree graduate students may enroll in the courses noted below, but non-degree graduate students cannot earn a University graduate certificate.

Submit application materials to the Graduate Admissions Office.

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Certificate Requirements

Individuals who successfully complete twelve credits in bioethics at the graduate level, including PHL 540, Moral Reasoning in Bioethics, with a grade of B or better, are eligible to receive the Graduate Certificate in Advanced Study in Bioethics. The certificate testifies that its holder has completed an intensive course of graduate study in moral theory, decision-making procedures in bioethics, the current literature of bioethics, and the practical application of moral principles and rules to cases in clinical practice, decision-making, and law. Bioethics courses are numbered PHL 540 to PHL 544. All of the courses are offered in a Web-based format.


  • PHL 540 Moral Reasoning and Bioethics (4 credits)
  • PHL 541 Clinical Issues in Bioethics (4 credits)
  • PHL 542 Policy Issues in Bioethics (4 credits)
  • PHL 543 Bioethics and the Law (4 credits)
  • PHL 544 Bioethics and Biotechnology (4 credits)

For further information, contact:
The Department of Philosophy
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Avenue Rhodes Tower 1932
Cleveland, OH 44115
Phone: (216) 687-3900 Fax: (216) 523-7422