Graduate Information

Director of Graduate Studies: Professor John Collins, 714 Philosophy Hall,

Directors of the M.A. Program in the Philosophical Foundations of Physics:
Professor David Albert, 706 Philosophy Hall, and Professor Allan Blaer, 227 Pupin Hall,


The Department of Philosophy at Columbia University offers three separate graduate degree programs through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS):

—        Master of Arts (M.A.) in Philosophy

—        Master of Arts (M.A.) in “The Philosophical Foundations of  Physics”

—        Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Philosophy.  

The M.A. programs are sometimes referred to as “free-standing” or “terminal” M.A. programs.    Students who do well in one of the free-standing M.A. programs are in a good position to apply to Ph.D. programs at other universities.    Students in the free-standing M.A. programs who wish to apply to the Columbia Ph.D. program must submit a separate application which will be evaluated competitively with all of the other applications we receive. There is no guarantee that they will be admitted to the Ph.D. program, nor should there be any expectation that their chances of being admitted are improved by the fact of having obtained an M.A. degree in the Department.

The Ph.D. program is actually an M.A./M.Phil./Ph.D. program, since students in that program earn an M.A. and an M.Phil. degree on the way to earning the Ph.D. degree.

Students in the free-standing M.A. programs may elect to study part-time.   Students in the Ph.D. program must study full-time.   All students must be continuously registered during the entire time of their graduate program. The only exceptions to this requirement are official Leaves of Absence, which may be granted only by the Dean of GSAS.


Please see the Registration Categories page on the GSAS website for more information.


Please see the Directory of Classes for more information:

Classes where the first number is 4 or above are graduate-level.

Please note that many graduate students take Quodlibetal Studies courses with professors.   A Quodlibetal Studies course is an independent study; students interested in doing a Quodlibetal Studies course should contact the professor they wish to study with. 

Note on grading:

For graduate classes, the Philosophy Department uses the following grading system. (Please note that this system differs from the grading system that GSAS states on its website; GSAS explicitly allows Departments to set their own grading policies.)

            A+       excellent
            A         very good
            A–       good
            B+       passing, but better performance is desirable
            B         passing, but serious improvement is needed
            B–       passing, but deficient in significant ways
            C         and lower: failing grade.

Students are encouraged to seek extensive feedback on their work. In particular, a student who receives a B+ or lower should get advice from faculty.