Best Master’s in Philosophy Programs

Philosophy encourages people to question everything from schools of thought to life itself. Discover the best master's in philosophy programs.

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by Reese Lopez

Updated July 29, 2022

Edited by Jared McMasters
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A master's in philosophy is a graduate degree that offers advanced training in the humanities, building skills in critical analysis, argumentation, and written communication. Most programs take about two years to complete, though online or part-time programs may take longer.

Tuition rates for master's in philosophy programs vary widely among schools. However, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that graduate students in all fields paid an average of $19,792 for the 2019-2020 school year.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

When researching master's in philosophy programs, always consider a school's true program cost and whether you'll need to take on debt to attend school.

Like many humanities degrees, an online master's in philosophy builds broad, widely applicable skills that can lead to many career paths. Philosophy graduates often find jobs in fields such as teaching, law, and journalism.

Payscale reports master's in philosophy graduates earn an average base salary of $76,000 per year, as of June 2022.

Our Top Pick

Yale University — New Haven, Connecticut

Why It's #1: Yale University is the No. 1-ranked school on our 2022 Best Master's in Philosophy Programs list. This school features a highly selective admissions rate of just 6%, paired with an above-average 97% graduation rate. While Yale's annual graduate tuition rate of $43,300 is higher than average, around 64% of students are awarded financial aid. Degree candidates also benefit from an enviable student-faculty ratio of just 6-to-1, helping to ensure close attention from professors.

Read Our Rankings Methodology

Best Accredited Master's in Philosophy Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

Yale University

School Information
Location New Haven, Connecticut
Admission Rate 6%
Graduation Rate 97%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Term
In State | $23,450
Out of State | $23,450

Credits to Graduate
N/A

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

A prestigious Ivy League college based in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale offers one of the country's top master's in philosophy programs. Candidates complete courses in areas including theory of knowledge, philosophy of language, and aesthetics. Yale also requires philosophy students to take at least one course in logic.

Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a writing sample. Yale does not require graduate applicants to submit GRE scores.

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#2

University of Pennsylvania

School Information
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 8%
Graduation Rate 96%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $7,712
Out of State | $7,712

Credits to Graduate
24

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Another member of the Ivy League, Philadelphia-based Penn offers a top-ranked master's in philosophy degree. Graduate candidates complete eight courses, exploring subjects including logic, value theory, and the history of philosophy. The curriculum also includes either a research-based thesis or a substantial scholarly research paper.

Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Candidates must also submit a curriculum vitae that outlines their relevant academic experience.

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#3

Brown University

School Information
Location Providence, Rhode Island
Admission Rate 7%
Graduation Rate 96%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Course
In State | $7,835
Out of State | $7,835

Credits to Graduate
24

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown hosts one of New England's best master's in philosophy programs. Students complete coursework in areas including epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics, all grounded in the history of philosophy. Candidates choose from either a thesis or non-thesis option, with non-thesis candidates completing two additional philosophy courses.

Program applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, a writing sample, and three letters of recommendation. Brown also requires applicants to submit GRE scores.

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#4

Columbia University in the City of New York

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 5%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester
In State | $32,363
Out of State | $32,363

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

An Ivy League school based in New York City, Columbia offers a master's in philosophy with both full-time and part-time enrollment options. The program focuses on three distribution groups, including value theory, theory of knowledge, and history of philosophy. Master's candidates are not required to complete a graduate thesis.

Applicants must submit a resume, undergraduate transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. Columbia also requires students to submit a statement of purpose and a philosophy writing sample.

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#5

Northwestern University

School Information
Location Evanston, Illinois
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Quarter
In State | $18,689
Out of State | $18,689

Credits to Graduate
N/A

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

A prestigious private college based in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern hosts one of the top master's in philosophy programs in the Midwest. The degree curriculum includes courses in ancient philosophy, modern philosophy, and contemporary philosophy. Candidates earn their master of arts in philosophy after completing the first two years of Ph.D. coursework.

All applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, at least three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Students must also submit a philosophy writing sample.

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#6

Vanderbilt University

School Information
Location Nashville, Tennessee
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,215
Out of State | $2,215

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

One of the top colleges in the South, Vanderbilt offers a unique master's in philosophy program that allows qualified undergraduates to earn their degree with just one year of graduate study. The program is only available to current Vanderbilt students.

Undergraduate philosophy majors can apply to the 4+1 master's program during their senior year. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.3 GPA and submit a statement of purpose, undergraduate transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.

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#7

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $586
Out of State | $1602

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

As North Carolina's flagship public school, UNC-Chapel Hill offers one of the state's best master's in philosophy programs. Candidates must complete courses in three distribution areas: history of philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology, and ethics and value theory. Students must also complete a three-credit thesis focusing on a significant philosophical concept or issue.

Applicants must submit transcripts, a statement of purpose, and a writing sample. UNC-Chapel Hill does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.

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#8

University of Florida

School Information
Location Gainesville, Florida
Admission Rate 37%
Graduation Rate 88%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Year
In State | $12,744
Out of State | $30,138

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

One of Florida's major public colleges, UF hosts a top-ranked master's in philosophy degree program. Master's candidates gain knowledge of the major periods of philosophy along with areas such as epistemology, ethics, and logic. During the program's second year, students must complete a final oral exam that assesses knowledge of major course topics.

Graduate applicants must submit college transcripts, a writing sample, and a statement of purpose. UF no longer requires students to submit GRE scores.

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#9

Tufts University

School Information
Location Medford, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 15%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Program
In State | $54,196
Out of State | $54,196 

Credits to Graduate
N/A

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

A private college based in Medford, Massachusetts, Tufts offers a master's in philosophy designed to prepare students for competitive doctoral programs. Candidates complete courses in three major areas: normative philosophy, history of philosophy, and metaphysics and epistemology. Many graduates continue on to philosophy Ph.D. or law programs.

Master's applicants must submit academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a resume or curriculum vitae. Philosophy applicants must also submit a writing sample and a statement of purpose.

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#10

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

School Information
Location Ann Arbor, Michigan
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 93%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 1% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,790
Out of State | $3,247

Credits to Graduate
24

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

One of the country's top public colleges, U-M offers a master's in philosophy that primarily serves students hoping to pursue a Ph.D. The program features courses in areas including aesthetics, philosophy of language, and social and political philosophy.

The master's program typically enrolls applicants already studying at U-M who would benefit from advanced training in philosophy. The program rarely accepts students from other institutions. Applicants must submit a personal statement, an academic statement, and a philosophy writing sample.

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Popular Online Master's in Philosophy Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Master's in Philosophy ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 791 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

BestColleges' Ranking Factors

Frequently Asked Questions About Philosophy Programs

Is a master's in philosophy worth it?

While not the most career-focused degree, a master's in philosophy program can be a good choice If you receive strong financial aid. As a graduate philosophy student, you'll develop advanced critical thinking and analytical skills while also building broad knowledge of the history of philosophy. The degree can prepare you for many career paths or for Ph.D. programs.

For many students, cost is the biggest concern when pursuing graduate education. Enrolling in an online program can often give you the flexibility to maintain your current job while you complete your education, which can make tuition less of a burden.

What can I do with a master's in philosophy?

A master's in philosophy program focuses on widely applicable skills, including research, communication, and critical analysis. These skills can prepare you for many job fields, including teaching, law, and journalism. Philosophy graduates can also pursue jobs in fields such as business, government, and social work.

Many master's in philosophy graduates continue their education, earning a Ph.D. in philosophy or a closely related field. After earning a doctorate, graduates often pursue careers in academia, teaching at colleges and universities. Philosophy graduates may also teach at K-12 schools and community colleges.

Are philosophy graduates in demand?

Like most humanities fields, philosophy has declined in popularity since the 2008 recession as college students seek more professionally focused majors. However, many employers desire the soft skills gained in philosophy programs, including strong communication and innovative thinking. Philosophy graduates can also pursue many careers with strong growth potentials, such as academia and law.

Many philosophy students aspire to teach at the college level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for postsecondary teachers to grow 12% from 2020-2030, a rate higher than the average projected U.S. job growth (8%). The BLS projects jobs for lawyers to grow 9% in the same period.

How much money can I make with a master's in philosophy?

Payscale reports that master's in philosophy graduates earn an average base salary of $76,000 per year, as of June 2022. However, salaries for philosophy students can vary widely depending on factors like location and experience.

Philosophy students who find careers as postsecondary teachers can expect to earn a median annual salary of $79,640, as of May 2021. Lawyers earn a median annual salary of $127,990, though this job requires candidates to earn a law degree. Writers and authors earn a median annual salary of $69,510.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in philosophy?

Many of the highest-paying jobs for philosophy graduates exist in academia. The top 10% of all postsecondary teachers earn a median annual salary above $190,770. Philosophers who publish frequently and teach at top universities typically command the highest salaries in their field, though it takes many years to reach this level.

Philosophers who branch out from academia may find gainful employment in the private sector. Many management occupations feature median six-figure salaries, though these jobs typically require significant professional experience.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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