Graduate Degrees

M.S. Program in Logic, Computation and Methodology

The MS program in Logic, Computation, and Methodololgy offers unique opportunities for studies over two years in areas where the department has distinguished formal research strengths. These are the same research areas that are open to PhD candidates. As a two-year program, it is well suited for students who are looking to enhance their training in selected areas of Formal Philosophy, in order either to pursue a vocation outside academe, e.g. designing expert systems for consulting firms that specialize in AI methods, or to prepare for further graduate study in Analytic Philosophy, Cognitive Psychology, Computer Science, Mathematics, or Statistics.

Cognition, AI, and Philosophy of Psychology

  • history and philosophy of psychology
  • artificial intelligence
  • neural networks
  • knowledge representation
  • semantics and pragmatics of natural language
  • foundations of computation

Decision, Rational Choice, and Applied Ethics

  • foundations of decision theory
  • game theory
  • rational choice
  • political philosophy
  • bioethics
  • ethics and public policy

Epistemology, Scientific Method

  • epistemology
  • foundations of statistics
  • belief revision and knowledge representation
  • causal inference and discovery
  • computational learning theory
  • automated deduction

Logic and Mathematical Thought

  • proof theory
  • category theory
  • constructive logic and type theories
  • automated deduction
  • logic of computation
  • history of modern logic
  • philosophy of mathematics
  • philosophy of logic

The Philosophy Department offers qualified MS students up to a 50% tuition fellowship, added to whatever outside fellowships or other tuition awards the student has gained on her or his own. In addition, qualified MS students have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants or graders for undergraduate courses, for a stipend rate set annually by the Department. In the 2007-2008 academic year, by TAing or grading one course per term for each of two terms, an MS student earns $8,000 in stipend. In addition, the department provides approximately $1,100 to cover the cost of a Carnegie Mellon health insurance policy.

The MS program ordinarily requires two years of coursework, as well as an MS thesis, written in the second year. The normal full time graduate course load in Philosophy is a minimum of three (12 credit) courses per term, for a total of (at least) 144 credits. Students must pass all required courses with a grade of B or better.

Advanced students can sometimes complete the program in a single year (including the following summer), corresponding to the fifth year of the combined 5-year BS/MS degree. Also, there is a part-time version MS program, designed for students, such as qualified CMU staff employees using their staff benefits, who are able to pursue graduate study with only 1 or 2 courses per term.

See our alumni page for information on where students have gone from our MS program.

Course Requirements

The program's course requirements are designed to provide students with a shared introduction to basic tools of philosophical analysis, a shared background of philosophical issues, significant interdisciplinary competence, and an introduction to research topics in the department.

Core requirements (6 courses)

    80-600 Philosophy Core Seminar: Survey of crucial research in philosophy, logic, and related areas.

    80-601 Philosophy Core Seminar II: Continued survey of crucial research in philosophy, logic, and related areas.

    80-610 Formal Logic: The syntax and semantics of first-order logic, and related topics.

    80-618 Topics in Logic I (half semester): The theory of computability, and Gödel's incompleteness theorems.

    80-616 Formal Methods (1.5 semester): An introduction to contemporary formal frameworks, including Bayes Nets, Decision Theory, Game Theory, and Formal Learning Theory.

    80-811 Thesis seminar: A seminar in which students present their master's thesis projects, typically taken in spring of the second year.

    With approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, other courses in logic may be substituted for 80-610 and 80-618. For example, 80-619 Computability and Learnability may be substituted for 80-618.

Interdisciplinary requirement (1 course)

    An interdisciplinary elective, e.g. in logic, computer science, statistics, game theory, linguistics, economics, or psychology, to develop formal skills that will support thesis research. These courses need to be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Suitable courses include:
    10-701 Machine Learning
    15-211 Fundamental Data Structures and Algorithms
    21-601 Model Theory I
    36-625 Probability and Mathematical Statistics I
    85-719 Introduction to Parallel Distributed Processing
    85-765 Cognitive Neuroscience

Electives (5 courses)

    Five electives (including directed reading and thesis research).

These requirements can be filled in two years by taking three courses each semester. The interdisciplinary requirement must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. The electives should also be chosen in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and the studentís advisor, to guarantee that the student has sufficient background to carry out the thesis research.


Students are advised to do supervised reading and research with a member of the faculty in the spring of their first year, to explore possible research topics for the MS thesis. Students should find a topic and advisor by the end of their first year. In the spring of the second year, students present their MS thesis research to their peers in the Thesis Seminar. The MS thesis itself should be completed by the end of the second year.

Sample curriculum

A typical course schedule might look as follows:

Fall First Year

  • Formal Logic
  • Philosophy Core Seminar
  • Formal Methods

Spring First Year

  • Computability and Incompleteness (half-semester)
  • Philosophy Core Seminar II
  • Formal Methods (half-semester)
  • Two Directed Readings (second half of semester)

Fall Second Year

  • Interdisciplinary elective
  • Elective
  • Elective

Spring Second Year

  • Thesis seminar
  • Elective
  • Supervised MS thesis research

It is not unusual for a student to take or audit a fourth course in some semesters.

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