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
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
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
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.
(C) send from your previous academic programs should be addressed to:
Department of Philosophy
Stony Brook University/SUNY
213 Harriman Hall
Stony Brook, NY 11794-3750
REQUIREMENTS FOR MA
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
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
Upon successful completion of 30 graduate credits of graded coursework, a student
may be awarded the M.A. degree in Philosophy.
Philosophy MA Course Catalogue