M.A. Degree

Use your Graduate Academic Bulletin

Students pursuing a graduate degree in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine should use the University Graduate School Academic Bulletin.

Official requirements for our M.A. degrees can be found by clicking on the Bulletin below:

History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine University Graduate School Academic Bulletin

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M.A. degree information

For official degree requirements, you must consult with the Graduate School Bulletin. The information below is not the official record.

Core courses

The HPSC department offers six core courses, of which M.A. students must take at least three: at least in history and at least one in philosophy. Students intending to continue on to the Ph.D. are advised to take a total of four core courses.

  • HPSC-X506: Survey of History of Science up to 1750 (antiquity to circa 1750)
  • HPSC-X507: Survey of History of Science since 1750 (circa 1750 to the present)
  • HPSC-X556: History and Philosophy of Premodern Science (antiquity and the middle ages)
  • HPSC-X552: Modern Philosophy of Science (the modern period through late positivism)
  • HPSC-X551: Survey of the Philosophy of Science
  • HPSC-X706: Special Topics in the History and Philosophy of Science

Every student must take either X506 or X507, and at least one of X556, X552, or X551. Those students intending to emphasize history must take both X506 and X507. Those students intending to emphasize philosophy must take at least two of X556, X552, or X551. X706, while being a core course, cannot satisfy these distribution requirements. In addition, every student must take one course requiring a major research paper (usually in the first year).


A 3.3 (B+) grade point average in departmental courses is required.

Foreign language/Research skill requirement

Proficiency in one language or one research skill. Students are typically expected to complete this requirement before registering for their third semester in the department.

Research skills

Research skills refer primarily to logic, but also include computation, or probability and statistics. Ph.D. students in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine who wish to satisfy their research skills requirement in logic, computation, or probability and statistics must consult with their advisor and the HPSC director of graduate students to determine the appropriate method.

The tool skill that each students chooses to satisfy the requirement must be demonstrably crucial to their dissertation research. In general, students are expected to possess a level of proficiency in the practical ability to apply formal methods and an understanding of the theory underlying the formal methods. The level of proficiency demanded is at least equivalent to B level performance in upper-division undergraduate or graduate courses in the relevant disciplines, i.e. philosophy, mathematics, statistics, and computer science.

There are two methods for satisfying the requirement:

  1. Certification by a committee of two HPSC faculty with expertise in the chosen tool skill. This committee may use any combination of special examination (written or oral), inspection of the student's transcripts, or requiring the student to obtain passing grades of at least B in preselected courses taken outside the department. More specifically, in logic this entails performance at least to the level of a B grade in the second semester of a formal logic course that covers predicate logic, as well as practical familiarity with the logic of identity and modal operators, and the equivalent of one upper- level or graduate course in logical theory, at least covering the completeness of first-order predicate logic.
  2. Certification by an external department. Where another department offers certification in a tool skill, students may choose to meet that requirement. This refers primarily to logic certification by the Philosophy department, although other graduate certification programs in other departments may be considered. Students should consult the director of graduate studies in the other department to determine which courses they may take to meet that department’s certification requirements.
Credit requirements

Students may fulfill the requirements for the M.A. Degree by completing 24 hours of coursework in the department and a total of 30 credit hours of graduate level work (including the required courses listed above) with a grade point average of at least 3.3.

In addition to the core requirements listed above, students desiring a master’s degree must take four additional graduate lecture and/or seminar courses in the department, earning at least 3 credits for each.

A student may count courses from other departments as long as they are of graduate level and as long as the student takes the required number of courses in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine.

Students intending to complete a master’s thesis must do so under the guidance of and accepted by a thesis committee, to be drawn up in consultation with the student’s advisor. The members of the committee retain the option to request an oral defense of the thesis. A maximum of 12 credit hours of X700 may be taken, but they will not count toward the required 30 credits of coursework. These hours will be recorded as “Incomplete” on the student’s transcript until the final copy of the M.A. thesis is accepted. The hours will then be changed to a letter grade based on the committee’s recommendation. Credits earned in X700 are not acceptable for the non-thesis option. Students may not take more than 9 credit hours of X600 Advanced Readings Course.

Language/Tool skill requirement

For the completion of a M.A. degree, a student must demonstrate:

  • Reading proficiency in one approved foreign language, or, proficiency in one tool skill (an option only for students emphasizing the philosophy of science).
  • Courses used to satisfy the language/tool skill requirement do not count as graduate credit toward the Master’s Degree. See Section 12 for more specific information on accepted languages and tool skills.
Professional development seminar

M.A. students must take the Professional Development Seminar (X501), normally during their first year in the program, in conjunction with which they will draft a grant proposal.

Colloquium Series

M.A. students must take the Colloquium Series (X733).

Awarding the M.A. degree

After the student has fulfilled all of the above requirements (7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, and 7.6), they must present a written application to the department, which is then forwarded to the university graduate school for final approval. A master’s thesis may be submitted either electronically or in print. In either case, follow the instructions from the graduate school. You must also deliver two bound copies to the department, one for the Reading Room, and one for the thesis advisor.

For further details, you are advised to consult the section “General Requirements for Advanced Degrees” in the I.U. Bulletin—University Graduate School, checking both the most recent version and the version that was in effect when you entered the program. Consult with the director of graduate studies if there is a discrepancy between the two versions.