Philosophy Department

BA in Philosophy

Career Options

Philosophers know, of course, that the important question is not what you can do with a field of study but rather what a field of study does with you. Nevertheless, it has been a welcome surprise within recent years to witness how many professions – business, law, nursing, for example, want and reward many of the capacities that the study of philosophy develops: the ability to solve problems, to communicate, to organize ideas and issues, to assess pros and cons, and to reduce complex data. These capacities represent transferable skills. For this reason, people trained in philosophy are not only prepared to do many kinds of tasks, they can also cope with change, or even move into new careers, more readily than others.

See Program Requirements

The minimum number of credits (exclusive of the University's Core curriculum) required for the major: 36.

Each major in philosophy will arrange a program of courses in conference with the chair or a member of the department who is assigned as the student's advisor. The program will be designed in terms of the student's interests, needs, vocational plans, and the year in which the student declares a major. The major will require 36 hours of courses.  Only one 100-level course may count toward the major.

All philosophy majors must take four history of philosophy courses. Two of these, which need not be taken in sequence, must be PHI 310 (Ancient Philosophy) and PHI 330 (Early Modern Philosophy). Thereafter, any two additional courses in the history of philosophy may be taken. These courses are PHI 312, PHI 315, PHI 320, PHI 340, PHI 350, PHI 360, PHI 370, PHI 380, PHI 390.

In order to graduate, all philosophy majors must complete two 400-level seminars in philosophy.  Seminar major figures and topics rotate among faculty in the Department.

In the last year a senior thesis (PHI 410) is optional. The successful completion of PHI 400 is a prerequisite for taking PHI 410. This thesis consists of a major paper (minimum length: 50 pages) on a topic selected by the student and directed by one member of the Department. The student will meet with the mentor on a regular basis during the semester of the senior thesis. Upon completion of the paper, an oral examination will be conducted by the full Department.

Honors status in the major is granted if the student's GPA in philosophy is at least 3.33 or higher upon completion of all requirements for the major.

Students enrolled in the HONORS Program and who are also philosophy majors may substitute their Honors senior thesis course for the Philosophy Senior Thesis (PHI 410), if the thesis is mentored by a philosophy faculty member and if the thesis is on a philosophical topic.

Every major intending to pursue graduate study and teach in philosophy will be expected to take German, or French through the intermediate level. German is preferred to French, although ideally both sets of courses should be taken.

All majors are encouraged to take PHI 205 Symbolic Logic.

The gender-neutral language policy of the Department prohibits the use of sexist language in classes, course materials, and at Departmental events.