PULLMAN, Wash. – The Higher Education Coordinating Board of Washington State has approved a new Master’s of Arts degree in philosophy from the College of Liberal Arts at Washington State University. The new degree is proposed to be a joint program between WSU and the University of Idaho.

UI has submitted the program for Idaho State Board of Education consideration at its August meeting. Pending board approval, both universities will offer the program starting in the fall of 2004.

The approval, granted earlier this month and pending at the UI, will make WSU and the UI the only public universities in the Northwest offering a master’s degree in philosophy unattached to a doctoral program.

The philosophy departments at WSU and the UI will both offer graduate courses and students can take any of the classes. Faculty may also teach some classes at their counterpart university.

“The collaboration is very exciting and gives us an opportunity to work more closely with other faculty,” said David Shier, chair of WSU’s Department of Philosophy.

“This enhances student opportunity and strengthens both departments,” said Sandra Haarsager, associate dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, which houses the UI Department of Philosophy. “We’re thrilled that the two departments have been able to put this together.”

The two universities already collaborate on the Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference. Each spring for the past six years, the INPC has attracted dozens of philosophers from around the nation and the world.

The new MA program will offer specialized tracks in ethics and in environmental philosophy, as well as general training in philosophy. In addition to students who seek the master’s degree, many of whom will continue on to Ph.D. programs, the program will serve graduate students from other departments seeking training in ethics or other areas of philosophy.

In conjunction with approval of the new degree, members of the HECB released a statement saying, “The master’s program in philosophy is an excellent addition to Washington State University’s liberal arts curriculum. It is a model collaborative program that would attract students who will be highly competitive in the workplace or in doctoral programs. It will contribute more to the intellectual life of the region. And, given the cooperative nature of the program, a minimal commitment of new resources will be required.”

The WSU philosophy department serves more than 70 majors while the UI program serves about 40 majors.