By GVC Staff
Are you analytical by nature? Do your friends accuse you of overthinking problems and situations? Then, a master’s in philosophy online program may be the perfect fit for you. These convenient and versatile academic offerings allow you to satisfy your intellectual cravings and earn a valuable credential without ever stepping foot on campus. In this ranking, we probe the top online master of philosophy programs available in the United States today.
Types of degrees covered in this ranking include the following:
- Online MA in Philosophy
- Online MA in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness
- Online MA in Bioethics & Health Policy
- Online Master of Arts in Bioethics
- Online Master of Science in Bioethics
- Online Master of Science in Business Ethics and Compliance
- Online MS in Health Ethics
- Online Master’s in Liberal Studies: Philosophy and Religion
Rating and Ranking Methodology
• Net Price Below $10,000: 4 points
• Net Price Below $15,000: 3 points
• Net Price Below $18,000: 2 points
• Net Price Below $20,000: 1 point
Student to Faculty Ratio
• Less than 20:1: 1 point
• Less than 15: 1: 2 points
• Less than 10: 1: 3 points
Return on Investment (ROI) According to Payscale.com
• Top 500: 1 point
• Top 300: 2 points
• Top 150: 3 points
Flexibility of the Program (asynchronous course delivery, hybrid options, part-time/full-time schedule, etc. ) – 1 point per item
Online Student Support Network (faculty mentors/advisors, etc.)— 1 point per item
Concentrations/Specializations – 1 point per item (5-pt cap)
Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific) – 1 point per item
“Wow” Factor – 1 point
Ranking the Best Online Master of Philosophy Programs
Our exhaustive Internet search for online colleges and universities offering a fully accrediting master’s in philosophy degree program online yielded precisely ten results. To rate and rank these offerings, we applied the methodology above using data from credible sources such as College Navigator, Payscale.com, and each program’s website. In cases of a tie, we awarded the higher ranking to the more affordable school.
La Mirada, California
Online Master’s in Philosophy
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
The philosophy master’s online offering from Biola University is a hybrid program offered through the Talbot School of Theology. The program approaches the academic discipline of philosophy from a Christian perspective and prepares graduates for both employment and doctoral study in the field. Sample course titles comprising the curriculum for the program include Philosophical Anthropology and Philosophy of the Mind, History and Normative Systems of Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, and Introduction to Spiritual Theology and Formation, for instance. Student engagement and networking opportunities are available through the Talbot Philosophical Society (TPS). Biola University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission to award the philosophy master’s degree online. U.S. News & World Report has recognized the school as a top national university.
Net Price: $32,729
#9—California Institute of Integral Studies
San Francisco, California
Online MA in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness
Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
The California Institute of Integral Studies offers a unique online MA in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. The 36 credit-hour curriculum for the program consists of course titles like Modern Western Esotericism; Science, Ecology, and Contested Knowledge; and Love, Death, and Annihilation, for instance. An optional track in Integral Ecology is also available. Coursework can be completed entirely online, but students are encouraged to attend a yearly residential retreat held on campus. The Institute is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission to award this master of philosophy degree.
Net Price: $20,970*
Online MA in Bioethics & Health Policy
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
The online master’s in philosophy program from Loyola University-Chicago is a Master of Arts in Bioethics & Health Policy. The program is offered through the university’s Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics & Healthcare Leadership and requires 30 credit hours of coursework. Sample course titles include Biomedical Ethics & the Law, Principles of Health Care Ethics, Justice & Health Care, and Clinical Bioethics, for example. A master’s research capstone is also required for program completion. The program can be completed entirely online within 2-3 years of study, and optional blended courses are available during the summer term. Loyola University-Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission on the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools to award the master’s philosophy degree online. The school has been ranked among the top 100 national universities and the top 60 best value schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
Net Price: $35,033
#7—New England College of Business and Finance
Online Master of Science in Business Ethics and Compliance
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
The online master of philosophy program from New England College of Business and Finance is an MS in Business Ethics and Compliance. Courses comprising the curriculum for this standout program include The Culture of Ethics, International Business Ethics and Compliance, Accounting and Ethics, and Regulations and Regulators, for instance. Students can choose from available tracks in Compliance, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Forensic Accounting. A capstone project in Ethics and Compliance is also required at the culmination of the program. The college is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education to award this online graduate degree in philosophy.
Net Price: $18,210*
Potsdam, New York
Online Master’s in Bioethics
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
The philosophy master’s online offering from Clarkson University is a 36-credit hour MS in Bioethics. The program is offered through the university’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and is available entirely online or via a hybrid format. Coursework required for the degree includes course titles such as Bioethics Policy Foundations, Medicine and Social Justice, Pediatric Ethics, and Foundations of Empirical Bioethics, for instance. A personalized master’s project is also required for degree completion. Graduate certificates in Bioethics are also available online. Clarkson University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to award this healthcare-centric master’s in philosophy credential online. U.S. News & World Report has identified the school as a top national university and ranked it among the top 40 best value schools in the country.
Net Price: $31,376
Online MS in Health Ethics
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
The online master’s philosophy option from Creighton University is a unique MS in Health Care Ethics. The curriculum for the program consists of core courses such as Social and Cultural Contexts of Health Care, Philosophical Bioethics, Theories of Justice, and Practical Ethics in Health Care Settings. Elective offerings include Catholic Bioethics, Ethical Aspects of End-Of-Life Care, and Public Health Ethics, for example. A hands-on practicum experience in a health care setting is required prior to graduation. Graduate certificates in health care ethics are also available. Creighton University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award this master’s degree in philosophy online. U.S. News & World Report has named the school the #1 regional university in the Midwest and placed it among the top 5 best value schools in the nation.
Net Price: $31,317
#4—Holy Apostles College and Seminary
Online MA in Philosophy
Student to Faculty Ratio: 5:1
The versatile online master’s in philosophy program from Holy Apostles College and Seminary features five available concentrations: Christian Wisdom, Ethics, General Studies, History of Philosophy, and Systemic Philosophy. The program is offered through the Holy Apostles Online Learning Program and features core courses such as Philosophical Anthropology, Logic of Epistemology, and Philosophy of Nature and Metaphysics, for instance. Depending on their chosen concentration, students will also take additional classes like Recent Catholic Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Natural Theology, and Philosophy of Science, for instance. A summative evaluation in the form of a master’s thesis or comprehensive examination is also required prior to graduation. Holy Apostles College and Seminary is accredited by both the New England Commission of Higher Education and the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools to award this philosophy master’s online credential.
Net Price: $17,415
Camden, New Jersey
Online Master’s in Liberal Studies: Philosophy and Religion
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Rutgers University-Camden’s fully online master of philosophy offering is technically a Master of Liberal Studies program with a concentration in Philosophy and Religion. No GRE is required for admission. The 30-credit hour curriculum for the program is cross-disciplinary and features course titles such as Contemporary Moral Issues; Gender, Sexuality, and Religion; Philosophy of Social Identities; and Psychology of Religious Beliefs, Values, and Symbols, for example. A capstone research project is also required prior to graduation. Rutgers University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on higher education to award this philosophy master’s online degree. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the top 10 public schools in the nation and the top 30 regional universities in the North.
Net Price: $27,000
#2—Columbia University in the City of New York
New York, New York
Online Master of Science in Bioethics
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
The online master’s in philosophy from Columbia University in the City of New York is a Master of Bioethics with a unique concentration in Global Bioethics. Full-time and part-time scheduling options are available, and students can elect to pursue a dual degree in Bioethics and Public Health. Core courses required for the MS in Bioethics include Introduction to Clinical Ethics, Philosophy of Bioethics, Research Ethics, and Law and Bioethics. Students will also choose from among elective offerings like Neuroscience and Ethics, Introduction to Empirical Research in Bioethics, and Science for Bioethicists, for example. A master’s thesis is also required for degree completion. Columbia University in the City of New York is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to award this philosophy master’s degree online. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school in the top 10 national universities and best value schools across the country.
Net Price: $21,220
#1—Ohio State University
Online Master of Arts in Bioethics
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
The MA in Bioethics program from Ohio State University is an online master’s in philosophy program designed especially for healthcare professionals. Offered through the College of Medicine, the program is available entirely online and emphasizes clinical medical ethics. Featured courses comprising the curriculum required for the degree include Clinical Bioethics; Bioethics, Health Law & Public Policy; Theory and Foundations of Bioethics; and Biomedical Research Ethics. Full-time and part-time tracks are available, and students taking a full course load can complete all degree requirements within just one year. OSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award the philosophy master’s credential online. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the top 20 most innovative schools in the nation as well as the top 60 national universities in the country.
Net Price: $18,694
About Online Master’s in Philosophy Programs
Online master of philosophy programs are some of the most versatile and captivating plans of study one can pursue at the graduate level. While some people think that master’s in philosophy online degrees aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, these credentials actually prepare students for many different career paths, including research and teaching positions as well as jobs in law, business, theology, and healthcare, for instance.
Many online master’s in philosophy programs aren’t designed for a specific vocational path, though. Instead, they provide students with the foundation in advanced philosophy concepts that they’ll need in order to continue their studies in a doctoral philosophy program.
The vast majority of philosophy master’s students attend classes on campus at a traditional four-year university. Online master of philosophy offerings are becoming more popular, though. These distance education options allow students to complete degree requirements at their own pace and from anywhere with an Internet connection. This unprecedented flexibility allows students to keep their jobs and raise families, for example, while pursuing their educational goals.
Types of Online Master of Philosophy Degrees
No two master of philosophy online programs are identical. While they all provide graduate-level instruction in this academic discipline via distance technology, there are inevitable distinctions from one program to the next.
Synchronous Versus Asynchronous Online Philosophy Master’s Programs
One of the most important differences to be aware of when choosing a master of philosophy online program involves synchronous versus asynchronous programs. This distinction will influence nearly every experience and interaction you’ll have while enrolled in your graduate degree program, so it’s of utmost importance!
Synchronous online master’s philosophy programs demand more of students in terms of their schedules and availability. While still more flexible than on-campus programs, these offerings require that students attend real-time class meetings on a regular basis. They also tend to have stricter deadlines for course assignments. Some students prefer synchronous online programs because they are more structured and often facilitate a higher level of interaction and engagement than their asynchronous counterparts.
Asynchronous philosophy master’s degrees online are the most flexible type of online degree in the field that one can pursue. These programs have few (if any) predetermined class meetings or mandatory log-in times. Essentially, students enrolled in asynchronous classes are free to complete course requirements on their own time, whenever it is most convenient for them. While this allows a great deal of freedom for students, it also demands a higher level of self-discipline than synchronous programs.
Fully Online Versus Hybrid Online Master’s Philosophy Options
While it is possible to fulfill degree requirements for an online master of philosophy program entirely online, not all programs are designed this way. Hybrid master’s philosophy programs combine online components with on-campus classes. The number of class meetings required will vary from program to program, but these offerings will inevitably be less flexible than fully online plans of study. Even so, many students appreciate the blended learning aspect of hybrid degree programs as they allow for face-to-face instruction and in-person collaboration with peers.
Part-Time Versus Full-Time Online Master of Philosophy Degrees
As with on-campus offerings, online master’s in philosophy programs can be pursued on a part-time or full-time basis. However, it is important to note that not all schools will offer both options. Full-time programs are appealing to working professionals and those with significant responsibilities outside of school. These types of degree plans will likely take longer to complete, however.
Alternatively, full-time online philosophy master’s programs allow students to fully immerse themselves into their studies. By enrolling full-time, students should have no problem completing all degree requirements within just two years.
Admissions Requirements for Online Master’s Philosophy Programs
The admissions requirements for online master of philosophy programs are similar to that of on-campus graduate philosophy programs. Typically, students will need to hold a bachelor’s degree in philosophy or some other liberal arts discipline. They may also have to submit an academic transcript that proves they’ve maintained a minimum grade point average (GPA) throughout their undergraduate experience. Some programs also require that students take the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) and submit their scores to the university for evaluation.
Additional requirements for admission into an online philosophy master’s program may include letters of recommendation, personal and professional references, statements of purpose, and formal interviews.
Keep in mind that the information provided here on admissions requirements for online graduate programs in philosophy is general information. For more specific information about admissions criteria, you’ll need to speak with an admissions counselor employed by the school you’re interested in attending. In most cases, you’ll also be able to find eligibility requirements for admission on the school’s website.
Master of Philosophy Online: Curriculum
If you’re considering enrolling in an online master’s in philosophy program, you’re likely wondering what types of things you’ll be studying in your online classes. The truth is, the curricula for these programs will vary depending on the exact type of philosophy master’s degree you’re pursuing as well as the specific school you attend. For the most part, though, an online program is similar to that of an on-campus degree plan in terms of the courses offered. In fact, schools that offer both traditional and online philosophy master’s degrees typically follow similar curriculum guidelines.
Graduate Philosophy Coursework
While specific classes and topics will vary, a graduate program in philosophy will generally cover most of the major subfields of this broad academic discipline. Some schools and programs will emphasize certain subfields, and these emphases are usually determined by faculty strengths.
Coursework in contemporary philosophy will focus on philosophical theories beginning at the turn of the 20th century and persisting until the present day. This subfield of philosophy is characterized by the acceptance of philosophy as a profession and the rise of continental philosophy. Some course titles associated with contemporary philosophy include the following:
20th Century Continental Philosophy
Contemporary Social and Political Philosophy
Special Topics in Contemporary Philosophy
Ancient philosophy is the sub-field of the discipline that relates to philosophy as it existed prior to the fall of the Roman Empire. Studies in ancient philosophy usually emphasize Greek and Roman philosophy but may also include other cultures and civilizations such as Indian and Chinese philosophy, for instance. Course titles addressing this sub-field may include:
Aristotle’s Legal Theory
Ethical and Societal Implications of Ancient Philosophy
History of Ancient Philosophy
Classics of Analytic Philosophy
History of Philosophy
Coursework in the history of philosophy will track philosophical theories and traditions pre-Socrates to the present day. Classes tend to be broad and focus on distinct time periods in philosophical history such as ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary philosophy. Specific course titles may include:
Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas
Science and Values
Ethics classes address issues of morality and justice, some of the most important and thought-provoking topics in the field of philosophy. Students will discuss ethics in its broadest sense and apply it to specific aspects of society as well. Courses in ethics may include the following:
Ethics and Society
Theories and Applications in Contemporary Ethics
Ethics: Ethical Cultures and Organizations
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that probes questions of existence. It is a highly abstract and theoretical area of the discipline that involves cosmology, time, the human mind, and more. Some course titles associated with metaphysics include:
The Metaphysical Psychology of Consciousness
Philosophy of Mind
Phenomenology and Existentialism
Introduction to Cognitive Science
Students enrolled in an online master’s in philosophy will inevitably encounter courses in epistemology—the branch of philosophy that deals with knowledge and belief. These classes explore the nature of knowledge, including how we know what we know and the difference between truth and knowledge, for example. This part of the master’s philosophy curriculum may include course titles like:
Theory of Knowledge
Practical Reasoning and Choice
Philosophy of Mathematics
Logic and Anti-Realism
In addition to graduate coursework requirements, philosophy master’s online programs generally require students to demonstrate proficiency in logic. They can do so in one of two ways: by taking and passing a basic logic class or by taking a logic examination. Check with the individual school you’re interested in attending for detailed information about specific logic requirements, as they can vary by program.
Prior to graduation from a master’s in philosophy online program, students are typically required to fulfill a capstone element. Capstone elements facilitate reflection on the learning that has taken place over the duration of the program. They also give students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in the academic discipline of philosophy. Some schools define the capstone as a master’s thesis while others allow students to write a research paper or take a comprehensive examination, for example.
Frequently-Asked Questions About Online Master of Philosophy Degree Programs
Q: How long does it take to earn an online master of philosophy degree?
A: Completion times vary depending on the program, but generally speaking, students can fulfill degree requirements within two to three years. Accelerated options are sometimes available as well, enabling students to earn their credentials in less time.
Q: What is the cost of a philosophy master’s online?
A: Tuition costs will vary by school and program. For example, the online master’s in philosophy degree programs in this ranking range from around $12,000 per year to well over $30,000 annually.
Q: Can online philosophy master’s programs be completed entirely online?
A: Yes. While some programs are hybrid in nature, others allow students to complete all degree requirements online. With these programs, there is never a need for students to attend classes on campus.
Q: Can students enroll in online master’s in philosophy programs on a part-time basis?
A: Yes, but not all programs offer this option. Check with an admissions counselor at the school you’re interested in attending, or consult the program’s website to discover scheduling options.
Q: Do online master of philosophy programs require a thesis?
A: Some do, and some do not. Programs that do not require a formal master’s thesis usually require some other culminating element such as a comprehensive examination or research project, for example.
Q: Are master’s in philosophy online programs legitimate?
A: Most of them are, yes. It’s still important to do your due diligence, though, to ensure the program’s credibility. At a minimum, you’ll need to check for either regional or national accreditation.
Q: Will a master’s in philosophy online program prepare me for a Ph.D. in Philosophy?
A: In most cases, yes. Keep in mind, though, that some programs are specifically designed to provide a foundation for doctoral studies while others are more vocational in nature.
Career Questions About Master’s Philosophy Online Degrees
Q: What career options will I have with an online master of philosophy degree?
A: There are many employment opportunities available for graduates of online philosophy master’s programs. These include advanced positions in academia, law, business, theology, and medicine.
Q: How much can I earn with a philosophy master’s online?
A: Your exact income will depend on your employer and job position, but online master’s degrees in philosophy can be fairly lucrative. For example, graduates who go on to teach philosophy at the postsecondary level make a mean annual wage of 71,890, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Q: Do I need a master’s degree to work in philosophy?
A: Usually. Most occupations in the field require an advanced degree such as a master’s or even a doctorate.
Q: What professional organizations welcome those with an online philosophy master’s degree?
A: There are dozens of professional organizations and associations in philosophy, and nearly all of them accept students and graduates of online degree programs. Some examples include:
American Philosophical Society
Institute for Global Ethics
American Association of Philosophy Teachers
Association for Symbolic Logic
International Association for Environmental Philosophy
Metaphysical Society of America
Philosophy of Science Association