How Can You Specialize a Master’s in Philosophy?

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Updated August 4, 2020

One consideration for individuals who are looking to further critical reasoning and thinking skills is how to specialize a Master's in Philosophy in order to prepare for furthering graduate education or finding a career in a number of diverse and interesting possibilities. Whether looking to go on to complete a terminal degree or enter the workforce, there are specializations in philosophy that can help to prepare.

The Foundation of a Graduate Degree in Philosophy

To begin fulfilling requirements to complete a master's degree in philosophy, students will first complete a core set of courses before focusing on a concentrated area of the field. These courses are designed to give students a foundation in research, analysis, critical thinking, creative thinking, and communication. Course work might include study of surrealism, abstract expressionism, modern and cotemporary art, and existentialism.

The History of Philosophy

One specialization that many philosophy graduate students will consider is the option to focus on the history of philosophy and its development. This specialization typically concentrates area of study on various philosophers who have shaped the discipline. Common courses include the study of the works of Descartes, Aquinas, Augustine, Plato, and Aristotle.

Social and Applied Philosophy

Social and applied philosophy is focused on developing skills in understanding the influence of the way in which society and culture influences concepts of morality, right versus wrong, and human interaction. Courses that might be completed in this specialization include philosophy off the mind, philosophy of knowledge, the dark side of philosophy, metaphysics, and twentieth century philosophy.


A specialization in ethics is a popular choice in master's degree options for philosophy. This particular specialization also offers course work in specific career areas, such as law, human resources, and medical care. Courses that might be completed in this concentrated area of philosophy include theories of ethics, the history of ethics, ethics in politics, application ethics in an organization, understanding ethical behaviors in organization, and the ethics of health care.

Opportunities after Completing a Specialized Master's in Philosophy Degree

One option for graduates with a master's degree in a specialized area of philosophy is to continue in education by entering into a doctoral program. A Ph.D in philosophy is often the path to take in order to qualify for positions as professor, assistant professor, or associate professor at universities and colleges. This advanced degree also creates opportunity for further research. Some graduates might also go on to complete a degree in law.

With the completion of a master's degree, opportunities to begin teaching courses in philosophy at community colleges and universities are also available. Other careers that a professional with a philosophy graduate degree can qualify for include social worker, counselor, minister, research consultant, marketing specialist, retail manager, human resources manager, and public relations specialist. More information for possible careers with a graduate degree in philosophy can be found at the American Philosophical Association website.

Related Resource: Specialize a Master's in Accounting

With a desire to begin to gain advanced understanding of theories of knowledge, life, and nature, prospective graduate students might begin completion of a degree in philosophy. By choosing an option to specialize a Master's in Philosophy, future professionals, professors, and doctoral students can gain the understanding of theories and concepts in philosophy to meet individual goals.

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