Philosophy Major, Philosophy of Science Specialization

Program Requirements

  • Total units required: 27

The philosophy of science specialization is available only as a second major in combination with work in one or more of the sciences. It is intended for those students with a scientific background who have an interest in pursuing philosophical issues relating to the natural and physical sciences.


  • In Contemporary/Analytic:
Phil 321GPhilosophy of Science3
Total Units3
  • In History: Any one of the core courses listed below:
Phil 347CAncient Philosophy3
Phil 349CDescartes to Hume3
Phil 358Conceptual Foundations of Modern Science3
  • In Advanced Philosophy of Science:
Phil 4210Topics in Advanced Philosophy of Science3
  • Any three of the supplementary courses listed below, which must include Phil 390 Philosophical Writing if the writing-intensive requirement is to be fulfilled in Philosophy
  • Phil 3991 Philosophy Capstone Course or Phil 499 Study for Honors
  • At least 27 units at the 300 level or above (including core courses)*
  • At least 6 of those 27 units at the 400 level**
  • Courses taken Pass/Fail cannot count toward the major.

Supplementary Courses

General Philosophy Courses:

Phil 390Philosophical Writing3
Phil 426Theories of Concepts3

Epistemology and Metaphysics Courses:

Phil 3113Theory of Knowledge3
Phil 3481Introduction to Metaphysics3
Phil 4141Advanced Epistemology3
Phil 4142Advanced Metaphysics3

Life and Science Courses:

Phil 3001Philosophy of Medicine3
Phil 4212Philosophy of Neuroscience3
Phil 423Philosophy of Biological Science3

Mind and Science Courses:

Phil 315Philosophy of Mind3
Phil 419Philosophy of Psychology3
Phil 4212Philosophy of Neuroscience3
PNP 495PNP Seminar (with approval of topic)3

At least 27 units of the required upper-level courses must be completed with a minimum of a C-.


Three of these credits (one course) must not be from Honors Thesis or Independent Study.

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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