Ethics and Public Affairs Concentration

Catalog Year: 2023-2024

Banner Code: LA-MA-PHIL-ETPA

Students in the Master of Arts in Philosophy program can choose a master's degree with a focus on traditional and contemporary philosophy or choose to complete the concentration in ethics and public affairs. Course offerings provide grounding in the history of philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, contemporary continental thought, contemporary analytic philosophy, and philosophy of science. Students pursue the degree to satisfy intellectual interest and to further professional expertise.  Graduates of the program move on to careers in law, technology, health care, education, and public service, or use the program to prepare for doctoral studies in philosophy.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on program requirements and courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes. Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Students pursuing this concentration must successfully complete 31 credits, which may include a thesis. Students need to identify an advisor on entering the program and meet regularly with that advisor during their course of study.


Degree Requirements

Total credits: 31

Students pursuing this degree must successfully complete 31 credits, which may include a thesis. They may choose to complete the concentration in ethics and public affairs. Students need to identify an advisor on entering the program and meet regularly with that advisor during their course of study.

For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Concentration in Ethics and Public Affairs (ETPA)

The concentration in ethics and public affairs is designed for professionals who want to combine the study of ethics and the analysis of social and public policies in a variety of settings, including business, health care, biomedical technology, law, or government.

PHIL 600 Proseminar in Philosophy 1 1
History of Philosophy 2  
PHIL 640 History of Ethical Theory 3
PHIL 603 Aristotle: Selected Works 3
or PHIL 608 Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit
Public Administration  
PUAD 540 Public Policy Process 3
Select three courses from the following: 3 9
Biomedical Ethics  
Environmental Ethics  
Business and Organizational Ethics  
Research Ethics  
Select two to four electives from the following or from other relevant courses: 4 6-12
PUAD 700
Ethics and Public Administration  
Environment and Society  
Optional Thesis  
Three or six credits of  
Thesis 5  
Total Credits 31

This course should be completed in the first fall semester in which the student is enrolled in the MA program.


Depending on the topic, PHIL 681 Figures and Topics in Ancient Philosophy, PHIL 682 Figures and Topics in Early Modern Philosophy, or PHIL 721 Advanced Seminar in Philosophy may be applied to this concentration with prior written permission of the graduate director.


Other courses may be used to fulfill this requirement where appropriate and with prior written approval of the student's academic advisor.


Students who choose to write a thesis (3 or 6 credits) will take correspondingly fewer electives. Students are encouraged to use courses from around the university in disciplines relevant to their areas of interest, subject to the prior written approval of their academic advisor.


Students must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and once enrolled in PHIL 799 Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment as specified in Academic Policies.

Students interested in pursuing a dual master's program linking philosophy or interdisciplinary studies (women and gender studies concentration) and a discipline other than that listed below should discuss their interest with the graduate program directors of both programs and review the university policies in AP.6.9.6.

Philosophy, MA and Interdisciplinary Studies, MAIS (Concentration in women and gender studies) Dual Degree

The Department of Philosophy and the Interdisciplinary Studies Program offer a dual master's degree program where students can earn both the MA and the MAIS (concentration in women and gender studies) in 55 credits rather than 67 credits. This program is governed by university policy AP.6.9.6.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions. For information specific to this dual master's degree see Application Requirements and Deadlines.


Students pursuing dual master's study linking the Philosophy MA and the Interdisciplinary Studies MAIS with a concentration in women and gender studies will complete WMST 630 Feminist Theories across the Disciplines/PHIL 658 Feminist Theory and 3 additional credits of WMST courses approved by the Department of Philosophy to apply to the philosophy degree as elective credit. Six credits of approved PHIL credits will apply to the MAIS degree as elective credit.