The Department of Philosophy offers a unique, interdisciplinary graduate degree program, a Master of Arts in Philosophy and Social Policy. Taking full advantage of GW’s many research and policy resources as well as a central location in the nation’s capital, students build professional networks during their studies, paving the way to careers in federal government agencies, think tanks, nonprofits and lobbying firms.
Creating and evaluating effective public policy has become a major concern for both public officials and citizens in U.S. society. Technical policy issues frequently raise questions about social values and build on concepts that require philosophical exploration. The MA in Philosophy and Social Policy program addresses questions of public policy from a humanistic perspective. Students learn to apply normative, historical and logical insights from philosophy to today’s most pressing issues.
Fall Semester: April 1 (February 1 for fellowship applicants)
Spring Semester: October 1
Graduate Info Sessions
At these informal webinars for prospective students, faculty members discuss prerequisites for admission, career opportunities and coursework. Current students also attend and share their experiences in the program. Scheduled sessions will be posted on this page when scheduled.
Who Should Apply
Due to its interdisciplinary nature, the graduate program is well suited for students from a variety of backgrounds. Most of our students have taken some philosophy courses, but many of them majored in fields such as political science, psychology, business, economics, English or history. We look for well-rounded students with an interest in public policy issues, demonstrated through past internships, volunteer positions or other experiences.
Some students are accepted to the graduate program on a probationary basis. This means that some aspect of their application is weaker than the admissions committee ordinarily wants to see, but that the student is sufficiently promising in other respects that the committee believes they can succeed in the program. Students admitted on probationary basis must maintain a GPA of 3.0 during their first two semesters in order to remain in the program, after which time probationary status is removed.
Funding for Incoming Students
Every application received before February 1 will be considered for a tuition award, ranging up to 70 percent of tuition. Some of these awards are made by the Department of Philosophy, while other awards are given by the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Note that students are not permitted to work more than 20 hours per week if they are receiving a half-tuition fellowship. Working more than twenty hours per week while enrolled in nine hours of coursework is not recommended for anyone.
The department also has some need for graduate assistants, who receive a salary and provide grading and instructional support for undergraduate philosophy classes. For most classes, the salary is $3,750 per semester. Priority is given to applicants with a background in philosophy and a strong undergraduate GPA.