Philosophy Major, Philosophy Research Specialization

Program Requirements

  • Total units required: 36

The philosophy research specialization is especially recommended for students who plan to pursue graduate studies and an advanced degree in philosophy, which is a must for anyone interested in a career as a university or college philosophy teacher. It will give the student a broad background in philosophy, which is a competitive advantage when applying to graduate programs in the field.


Phil 3113Theory of Knowledge3
or Phil 3481 Introduction to Metaphysics
Phil 306GPhilosophy of Language3
or Phil 315 Philosophy of Mind
or Phil 321G Philosophy of Science
or Phil 361 Philosophy of Emotions
Total Units6
  • In History: Any two core courses (a 400-level History course may be substituted for a second 300-level course):
Phil 347CAncient Philosophy3
Phil 349CDescartes to Hume3
Phil 357CKant and 19th-Century Philosophy3
Phil 358Conceptual Foundations of Modern Science3
  • In Value Theory (Phil 4310 Metaethics or Phil 4315 Normative Ethical Theory can satisfy a 400-level requirement):
Phil 331FClassical Ethical Theories3
Phil 4310Metaethics3
or Phil 4315 Normative Ethical Theory
or Phil 361 Philosophy of Emotions
Total Units6
  • Phil 390 Philosophical Writing or another core course
  • Phil 3991 Philosophy Capstone Course or Phil 499 Study for Honors
  • At least 30 units at the 300 level or above (including core courses)*
  • At least 6 of those 30 units at the 400 level**
  • Courses taken Pass/Fail cannot count toward the major.

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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