The UH Philosophy M.A. program has consistently been rated among the top M.A. programs in the country in the Philosophical Gourmet Report and is noted in the APA grad guide as having special strengths in Cognitive Science, History of Philosophy, Ethics, and Aesthetics. Our program is designed to prepare students for the best Ph.D. programs in the country. We offer our students a variety of placement services (provided by a faculty placement coordinator--currently Dr. Justin Coates), which includes a writing sample review and consultation, coordinated organization of recommendation letters, and advice about programs that would provide the best fit given a student’s interests. With these placement services, our students regularly go on to top programs such as Princeton, Rutgers, Cornell, UCLA, UCSD, and Harvard.
Among their other courses, students typically take three graduate seminars per year they are in residence. Since we take turns teaching these seminars, and our interests are diverse, a student in residence for a two-year period will be exposed to a wide range of important philosophical work. Examples of past graduate seminars offered can be found here.
Our department has a course sharing agreement that allows students in our program to take graduate philosophy courses at Rice University. We are also within easy driving distance of the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University at College Station, and students often organize road trips to philosophy events and conferences in the area.
Seminars are designed to expose students to the standards expected in leading Ph.D. programs. Students are asked to investigate the latest literature on seminar topics and to develop oral and written presentations that demonstrate an ability to analyze and contribute to the latest research in philosophy.
Through the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies program, graduates may also obtain an interdisciplinary certificate in Women’s Studies; more information can be found here.
The department is especially concerned to mentor students in the fine art of philosophical writing. Students may choose between two tracks for developing their writing skills. One track requires a master's thesis. The other requires additional course work and reworking of what each student takes to be his or her best seminar paper; students who take this option frequently use it as their writing sample, and interact extensively with a faculty member to perfect it for Ph.D. admissions. Many of our M.A. students also work as Teaching Assistants in introductory courses, and so have experience in grading, meeting with students, and tutoring.
Students who do well in our program will be eminently qualified for competitive Ph.D. programs, often much better prepared than others entering directly from an undergraduate program: they know what to expect, their ability and motivation to do graduate level work has been tested, they obtain more credible and informed letters of recommendation, and they have acquired a graduate level background that provides a useful head start on Ph.D. work.
Living in Houston
Houston is the best kept secret in America. If you go by national reputation, you'd think it was all highways, sprawl, condos, televangelists, and cigar smoking oilmen. In fact, it's the most diverse city in America (recently passing New York) with cool neighborhoods, funky bars, over 11,000 diverse and affordable restaurants, a three-term openly gay mayor, and a fairly compact "downtown" area--most faculty and graduate students live no more than a 15 minute drive away and many bike to campus from their homes (and Houston is adding bike trails by the month). Houston also has a fantastic arts community with world class museums (many of which offer free admission times), top-notch companies in opera, dance, theater, and symphony, and a lively alternative arts and music scene. Compared to other major metropolitan areas, it also offers a very affordable cost of living.
More information about living in Houston can be found here.