Master of Arts Thesis

To complete the Master of Arts in Philosophy thesis option at Western Michigan University, the following requirements, forms, and deadlines apply in addition to the general requirements:

  • Complete at least one course (no less than three credit hours) in each of the three concentration areas (the "breadth requirement").
  • Complete at least three courses (no less than nine credit hours) in one of the concentration areas (the "depth requirement").
  • Complete a minimum of 24 credit hours of 5000 or 6000 level courses in the Department of Philosophy.
  • Complete a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours. With the authorization of the department graduate advisor, students may count up to eight credit hours of courses from other departments.
  • Complete six credit hours of PHIL 7000. Please see the graduate advisor for details.
    • Registration in PHIL 7000 must be continuous from the time you begin registering for thesis credit until your thesis has been finally approved. More than six credits of thesis credit may be taken; however, only six credits will apply to the degree.
    • Prior to first registration for PHIL 7000, an Application for Permission to Elect form, including a general description of your thesis topic, must be approved by your major advisor, the department, and the Graduate College. If you want to finish in two years, you are strongly advised to propose your thesis by the end of your first year in the program. Have a thesis topic in mind prior to approaching a member of the faculty interested in that area to act as your major advisor. Your advisor will help you determine two to four additional committee members. Approval of a thesis topic by the department is not automatic. You may be asked to rewrite your proposal or you may be directed to take the non-thesis option. If you do propose a thesis and it is approved, your actual thesis must be on the topic proposed. If you wish to change topics, the new proposal will need to be approved.
    • Prior to final registration for PHIL 7000 Thesis Credit, a Notification of Appointment to a Dissertation, Project or Thesis Committee form, including a specific description of your thesis topic, must be signed by all committee members and approved by the department and the Graduate College.
    • To accompany your completed and approved thesis, a Thesis Approval form must be completed and signed by all thesis committee members and the Graduate College. See the Graduate Catalog Calendar for exact thesis submission deadlines (approximately one month prior to the end of the semester you plan to graduate). Try to allow one month for your major thesis advisor to review your thesis, plus a month for review by additional committee members, prior to scheduling a defense. Schedule your defense early enough to make any revisions prior to submission to the Graduate College by their deadline.
    • Complete and return the three forms to the Graduate College in the Seibert Administration Building.
    • The Department of Philosophy has elected a manual of style for its Master's theses:
      Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2003.

      The department will adopt later editions as they appear.

      Students who are about to write a thesis should pay close attention to Chapter 3, "The Mechanics of Writing." Note that Section 3.3 directs students to ask their instructor or editor about the use of italics where the handbook recommends underlining. Also, if their instructors agree that it would obscure a technical point about use versus mention for the student to observe the rule concerning punctuation at the end of quotations (3.7.7, page 119), students may transgress the rule.

      The department recognizes that the Graduate College's rules on thesis format take precedence over the handbook's recommendations in Chapter 4, "The Format of a Research Paper." These rules are in the Graduate College's publication, Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses, Projects, and Dissertations.

      At the discretion of a student's instructor, the student's method of citing sources may be either citations in the text, as described in the handbook (Chapters 5 and 6 on documentation) or notes as described in the handbook's Appendix B.1.

      The department owns a copy of the handbook, which can be perused in, but not removed from, 3004 Moore Hall. Students can buy the handbook at the campus bookstore.
  • Meet the Graduate College requirements.