Philosophy Major

Program Requirements

  • Total units required: 27; at least 6 units must be at the 400 level, and an additional 15 units must be at the 300 level or above
  • Courses must be passed with a C- or above
  • Up to 6 Credits can be transferred from other institutions and/or study abroad

Majors are encouraged to take more than this minimum number of courses, especially if they are considering graduate work in philosophy. Majors and minors are encouraged to fulfill the writing-intensive requirement by taking Phil 390 Philosophical Writing. All majors are required to complete a capstone experience in philosophy: either an honors thesis (Phil 499 Study for Honors) or the philosophy capstone course (Phil 3991 Philosophy Capstone Course). Majors who are planning to do graduate work in philosophy should attain at least reading proficiency in German, Greek, Latin, or French.

Required Courses

Majors must complete at least one core course in each of the three areas below. Students who do not take Phil 390 will be required to take one additional core course. The core courses, by area, are as follows:

Contemporary/Analytic Philosophy:

Phil 306GPhilosophy of Language3
Phil 3113Theory of Knowledge3
Phil 315Philosophy of Mind3
Phil 321GPhilosophy of Science3
Phil 3481Introduction to Metaphysics3
Phil 361Philosophy of Emotions3

History of Philosophy:

Phil 347CAncient Philosophy3
Phil 349CDescartes to Hume3
Phil 357CKant and 19th-Century Philosophy3
Phil 358Conceptual Foundations of Modern Science3

Value Theory: 

Phil 331FClassical Ethical Theories3
Phil 339FPhilosophy of the Arts3
Phil 340FSocial and Political Philosophy3
Phil 345FIssues in Applied Ethics3
Phil 346Philosophy of Law3
Phil 361Philosophy of Emotions3

On occasion, it may be appropriate to substitute a 400-level course in one of these areas for a 300-level core course; individual petitions for substitutions will be considered by the director of undergraduate studies. Generally, for a course to count either as "core" or as partly satisfying the requirement for 6 units at the 400 level, it must be home-based in Philosophy. At most, 3 units of credit in Phil 499 or Phil 500 Independent Work can be counted toward the required 6 units of 400-level course work.

Additional Information

Senior Honors

Eligible majors are encouraged to work toward Senior Honors. To qualify, students must have the agreement of a faculty member to serve as their thesis advisor. In addition, at the end of their junior year, they must have an overall grade point average of at least 3.65. For important additional information regarding Senior Honors, consult our Undergraduate Honors webpage.

The Writing-Intensive Seminar

Majors are encouraged to fulfill their writing-intensive requirement by taking Phil 390 Philosophical Writing, which is specially designated as writing intensive. It is typically taken during the junior year, and it is limited to 15 students. Significant attention is devoted to conceiving, researching, writing, revising, critiquing and presenting philosophical essays. A philosophy major who does not take a philosophy writing-intensive seminar must take a fourth core course from any of the three core areas. Registration priority for Phil 390 is given to philosophy majors and minors who have not yet completed their writing-intensive requirement. 

Capstone Experience

All philosophy majors are required to complete a capstone experience either by writing an honors thesis or by taking Phil 3991 Philosophy Capstone Course. Please be aware that the capstone course is offered only in the spring semester, so students will need to plan their class schedules accordingly if they decide not to write an honors thesis. To qualify to write an honors thesis, at the end of their junior year, students must have a GPA of at least 3.5 in the major, a GPA of at least 3.5 in advanced philosophy courses, and an overall GPA of at least 3.65. Alternatively, majors should sign up for Phil 3991 (a 3-credit course), which will draw together a variety of different philosophical areas. Only philosophy majors of senior standing may take this course; preference is given to students not pursuing honors.

Study Abroad

Students can pursue the philosophy major while studying abroad. The department has special study abroad arrangements with University College, London; King's College, London; Trinity College, Dublin (Ireland); Sussex University (U.K.); Utrecht University (the Netherlands); and the University of Auckland (New Zealand). Information about study abroad and specific overseas programs is available from the departmental website and the study abroad advisor.

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