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Master of Arts in Philosophy

with a Focus on the Arts and Aesthetics


Many of the questions that occasioned Plato’s reflection on art are still with us: What is the relationship between art and truth? Is the task of the artist to represent already existing things or to create altogether new things? Is the spectator of art to be regarded as a mere witness or as an active participant?

What is the role of emotion in the experience of art? What are the most salient differences between the various arts?

Other questions have arisen with increasing urgency in more recent times: What does psychoanalysis have to teach us about the place of art in our lives? How are class, race, and gender pertinent to the production and enjoyment of art? Do we need to re-conceive aesthetics in view of a global electronic culture?

Art and philosophy are typically pursued in separation from each other, with only the rare single course considering both at once. Yet philosophical dimensions of art have become of increasing concern to artists, art historians, art critics, and philosophers themselves in the last decade. For example, the question as to what constitutes an artwork – i.e., what are its material and social conditions and limits – has been much debated and is an example of a specific theme to be treated in offerings at Stony Brook Manhattan.

No other set of courses with a comparable emphasis exists in the New York area. Thus, artists, who consider philosophical features of their work, the educated public, art collectors and art administrators, and those who seek to earn a master's degree in philosophy, will be interested in this unique opportunity.

The Philosophy Department of Stony Brook University has been internationally recognized for its focus on contemporary European philosophy and its interdisciplinary orientation.

Considering applying? Click on  Admissions for more detailed information.

Admission to the MA Program

completed on-line application, the following are required for admission to the MA program in philosophy:

A. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution;

B. Some knowledge of the history of philosophy and of contemporary modes of thought is highly desirable, but not required; Deficiencies in these areas may require the student to undertake special work;

C. One official transcript of undergraduate record and of any work completed at the graduate level;

D. Letters of recommendation from three previous or current instructors;

E. Submission of a philosophical essay (which may be a paper written for a previous course);

F. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores and TOEFL scores for applicants whose native language is not English; and,

G. Acceptance by both the Department of Philosophy and the Graduate School.

Stony Brook University’s Graduate School requires that all applications are submitted electronically. You can find the   Graduate School admissions website here.  Or you can  click here to go directly to the online application system.

The on-line application is interactive.  You can create an account, save your information, and return to your application as often as you like. Until you click the Submit button, you can correct the data you have entered. You will be as well able to review the status of your application by logging into your personal On-line Account once you have submitted it.

If you are an  international applicant, please familiarize yourself as well with the information provided by the   Stony Brook University’s Visa and Immigration Services.

Note that only GRE and TOEFL scores (F) that were officially submitted by ETS will be accepted. Stony Brook University’s code for score reporting for both tests is 2548. The department follows the Graduate School standards setting the acceptable score on the standard TOEFL test for international students at 550 and above, or, a minimum score on the Internet-based TOEFL (IBT) of 90 with a minimum score on each subsection of 22 respectively.

All letters of recommendation (D) and the writing sample (E) are to be submitted electronically.

Official transcripts (C) send from your previous academic programs should be addressed to:

Graduate Coordinator
Department of Philosophy
Stony Brook University/SUNY
213 Harriman Hall
Stony Brook, NY 11794-3750




For the master's degree, a student must take 30 course credits, i.e., the equivalent of ten courses.

Of those 30 credits, no more than 6 credits can be independent study.

If they choose to do so, students may submit a Master's thesis essay. It must be judged and passed by at least two faculty members of the Philosophy Department. 6 hours of independent study can be used for the thesis project.

Up to 6 credits of coursework on philosophical issues in the arts (taken outside the philosophy department) may be applied toward the M.A. in Philosophy from Stony Brook University.

One course must be taken on the home campus in Stony Brook, Long Island. All other courses are offered at the Stony Brook Manhattan campus at Park Ave. South and 27th St.

Upon successful completion of 30 graduate credits of graded coursework, a student may be awarded the M.A. degree in Philosophy.


Full Philosophy MA Course Catalogue

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