- Why should I choose Ryerson?
Ryerson is the only MA program in the GTA that allows you to write a Thesis or a Major Research Paper, so only at Ryerson will you have a chance to explore a topic in real depth. And because ours is a 5-term program, you’ll have more time to work closely with your professors. This means that we will be in a stronger position to support you wherever you decide to go after you finish your degree.
Finally, Ryerson is located in the heart of one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan cities, a city with a thriving philosophical culture. There is no better place to study philosophy.
- What background do I need to get in?
Most of our students have an honours BA in philosophy. Our goal is to accept the best and most promising students that we can. If you are not sure whether you have the right sort of background, just ask our graduate program director.
- What areas of philosophy do you specialize in?
Our faculty members work in all areas of philosophy, in both the continental and the analytic tradition. We have special strengths in the philosophy of religion, metaphysics and the philosophy of mind, social and political philosophy, philosophy of language, normative and applied ethics, contemporary continental philosophy, and in aesthetics. Here is a list of our faculty and their research interests.
- What are the program’s requirements?
All of the program’s requirements are spelled out in detail under the red "our program" tab above. But here is the short version.
In your first year, you’ll take a required Professional Seminar as well as 5 electives, 2 in the fall and 3 in the winter. Over the summer, you’ll do an Area Reading Exam, which involves independent but guided research in a core area of philosophy.
In your second year you’ll write either a Major Research Paper (MRP) or a Thesis. If you do an MRP, you’ll also take 2 more electives that year, one each term. If you decide to do a Thesis, then that’s all you will work on in your second year.
- What are the Area Reading Exams?
During the summer between your first and second year, you will do one Area Reading Exam course. This is an opportunity to do independent but guided research in a core area of philosophy. The aim is to help you get a running start on the research you’ll need to do for your MRP or Thesis.
Together with the program director and your supervisor, you will create a reading list and a set of questions to guide your research. You will be then required to submit some written work and to discuss your research progress with your supervisor.
- What is the difference between a Major Research Paper and a Thesis?
A Major Research Paper (MRP) is usually around 30-40 pages long, roughly modeled on a typical article in a philosophy journal. A Thesis is usually around 120 pages long, roughly modeled on a typical small monograph or book. Both are meant to be original contributions to a current philosophical debate. An oral defence is required for a thesis but not for an MRP.
If you decide to do an MRP, then you have to take an elective each term in your second year. If you decide to do a Thesis, then that is all you have to do in your second year. Both options have positives and negatives. This is an important decision, and we can help you make the decision that is right for you.
- How many seminars do you offer every year?
Every fall we offer the Professional Seminar designed especially for our first year MA students. We also offer 7 electives every year, three in the fall and four in the winter. In your first year, you’ll take 2 electives in the fall (out of 3 options) and 3 in the winter (out of 4 options.)
- What is the typical seminar size?
A typical seminar has between 8 and 13 students in it. This means that you’ll have a great opportunity to get to know the other students and your professors, and to have intimate discussions in class.
- What activities outside the classroom do you offer?
We are committed to providing a rich philosophical life outside the classroom.
Our annual speaker series brings 3 or 4 guest speakers to our department every semester. Graduate students are invited to the talks and we usually pay for one or two to come for dinner with the speaker.
We also have hosted and organized philosophy conferences and workshops, including workshops on Gilbert Ryle, on Hegel, on Merleau-Ponty, on Belief and Agency. And every spring we hold a Research Day when our faculty members and graduate students can share their research projects.
For a sample of recent activities, check out our News and Events.
- How much does it cost?
The fees for the program change every year, but are around $3000/term. For more information visit the Graduate Fees page.
- What financial support would I get?
Our goal is to provide every student with substantial and highly competitive financial support. Our letter offering you admission will specify exactly the amount of funding we will provide you. There are several different sources of funding.
First, we may offer you paid work as a Grading or Teaching Assistant. This involves grading essays and exams and leading tutorial sections in undergraduate philosophy classes. This is a terrific way to learn philosophy. The normal contract is for 130 hours of work per semester (not including the summer, when there is no such work). The rate of pay changes every year, but is around 40$/hour. In total, this would amount to around $10,000.
Second, you may be offered an internal Ryerson scholarship or award. Ryerson Graduate Fellowships are valued at about $7,000 and are awarded to excellent students by the Dean of Graduate Studies. Ryerson Graduate Awards range from $500 to $6000 and are awarded by the department.
Third, you may be offered a paid Research Assistant position, helping one of our faculty members with his or her research project.
Finally, you should seriously consider applying for external scholarship to support your studies, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship. If you qualify for one of these awards, we’ll also help you apply for it in the fall of your first year to help fund your second year with us.
Again, our letter offering you admission will specify in detail how much financial support you would receive and from what sources.
More information on all of this can be found at the YSGS website.
- What is TA and GA work? How much does it pay?
Paid work as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Grading Assistant (GA) constitutes a large part of the financial support we provide our students. This usually involves grading essays and exams and leading tutorial sections in our undergraduate philosophy classes. The tutorial sections usually have about 25 students in them.
A normal TA/GA contract is for 130 hours per semester, paid at about $40/hour. This sort of work is only available during the fall and winter terms (not during the summer.)
Grading is often demanding work, but it is also one of the best ways to broaden your philosophical knowledge and to sharpen your writing skills.
- Why should I choose a 2-year MA?
We believe that you can’t rush good philosophy. It takes time to master the intricacies of a philosophical debate. Our 5-term program is designed to provide you with a broad education across all areas and traditions in philosophy, while also giving you an opportunity to explore a topic in real depth. We believe that you’ll do better, will learn more, and will find the experience more fulfilling if you take your time.
- What can I do with an MA in philosophy?
Some students with an MA in philosophy go on to get a PhD in philosophy, with the aim of becoming a university professor. Others go on to law school or business school. Some go to teacher’s college with the aim of teaching philosophy in Ontario high schools. Still others go on to work in the private sector. Completing an MA will help sharpen your communication and critical thinking skills, skills that are valuable in any career and that contribute to a full and rich life.
- What are the application dates?
We start considering applications in the middle of January every year, but we will continue to accept and consider applications until we have reached our enrolment targets. Applications are completed entirely on-line.
- How many students do you accept each year?
Our goal is to enroll about 13 students each year. This means that we have about 26 students at any one time. So not only will you get to meet students in your own year, but you’ll get to watch as students in the year ahead of you finish up their program.
- When will I hear if I was accepted?
We aim to start sending out offers of admission in the early spring. If you haven’t heard, do not hesitate to contact the graduate program director.