Undergraduate Program

The Major Program

The major program in philosophy is designed to provide a broad exposure to the major areas of philosophy as well as a strong grounding in the history of philosophy. The program emphasizes the close reading and critical evaluation of classic texts from ancient times to the present, and students can expect to develop sophisticated analytic and expository skills that will enable them to engage in original, critical reflection on their own. The major program provides excellent preparation for graduate study in philosophy as well as a solid foundation for any career that places a premium upon clear, careful thinking, rigorous conceptual and analytical skills, and effective written and oral communication.

The major consists of a minimum of 40 credits in philosophy. There are 6 specified course requirements and 4 free elective courses of which 2 must be numbered 200 or above. Independent study courses cannot be used to satisfy the requirement for advanced courses (those at or above the 200 level) in either the major or the minor. Under special circumstances a student may petition the department for a one-course exception to this rule. 

Major Requirements

1. Core Philosophy Requirements (24 credits)

PHIL 102 Philosophical Thinking
PHIL 105 Ethics
PHIL 131 Ancient Philosophy
PHIL 135 Modern Philosophy
PHIL 139 Contemporary Philosophy
Plus one of the following:
PHIL 220 Epistemology
PHIL 221 Metaphysics

2. Philosophy Electives (16 credits)

Select at least 16 additional credits of philosophy courses, 8 of which must be at the 200-level or above.

Writing-Intensive Requirement

Majors are strongly encouraged to fulfill their junior writing-intensive requirement by taking a WI-designated philosophy course.


To qualify for Honors in Philosophy, philosophy majors must elect to write an Honors Thesis. The Honors Thesis is a year-long independent project during which philosophy majors, with the consent and under the guidance of a philosophy faculty advisor, investigate a topic of special interest to them. To be approved to work on an Honors Thesis, students should apply to the department in the spring of their junior year. Applications will detail the subject matter of the proposed thesis and a timeline for its completion; they will demonstrate that the student has secured the support of a faculty advisor who has determined that the student is philosophically able to complete the thesis. 

If approved to write an Honors Thesis, the student will enroll in PHIL 390 Honors Thesis I (4 credits) in the first semester of their senior year and PHIL 391 Honors Thesis II (4 credits) in the second semester of their senior year. If the faculty advisor deems the student's progress towards completion of the thesis during the first semester (PHIL 390) unsatisfactory, the student will not be permitted to enroll in PHIL 391 for the second semester.

Departmental Honors in Philosophy are awarded to graduating seniors who satisfy the following two criteria: 

  1. At the start of their final semester, their overall GPA is at least 3.25 and their GPA in philosophy is at least 3.5, and 
  2. Their completed Honors Thesis receives an A from the thesis advisor, and then is judged by the whole department faculty to be well-researched, well-argued, well-organized, well-written, and to exhibit original philosophical thinking.

Graduate Study in Philosophy

It is recommended that majors planning to pursue graduate study in philosophy (a) apply for Honors, (b) discuss their career plans with a faculty member during their junior year, and (c) make sure to include the following 4 specific courses in their programs:

PHIL 114 Symbolic Logic
PHIL 220 Epistemology
PHIL 221 Metaphysics
PHIL 250 Philosophy of Mind


Click here for the major declaration form.


The Minor in Philosophy

The minor in philosophy consists of a minimum of 16 credits, at least 4 credits of which must be at the 200-level or above. At least two courses taken for the minor must be taught by a member of the Philosophy Department. Minor Programs are planned in conjunction with the departmental advisor who will help the student plan a program compatible with his or her interests. Minor programs may be, but do not have to be, focused in a particular area such as ethics, the history of philosophy, or philosophy of mind. 

The Minor in Philosophy, Law & Public Policy

Seldom in history have the philosophical foundations of law and public policy been more critically important. This minor is based on the idea that while law is codified policy, policy is persuasive philosophical-moral argument. Consequently, it begins from the premise that both a knowledge of established law, and those policy arguments that instigate transformation, require an understanding of the philosophical essence that gives a policy or law its authority. This make the philosophical study of public affairs the most practical of endeavors. 

This minor seeks, in a compact set of courses, to provide the student the methodological and critical skills that are the core of philosophical understanding. In addition, the student will learn how to contextualize these skills through primary historical-philosophical sources, applying them to the analysis of those philosophical imperatives that currently drive the law, as well as the synthesis of legal-policy arguments for change.

Requirements (16 total credits):

One Core Course (4 credits)
PHIL/ES 301/401 Philosophical-Policy & Legal Design: Methods & Applications
PHIL/ES 342/442 International Law and Philosophical-Policy Design
PHIL/ES 333/433 International Environmental Law & Philosophical-Policy Design
PHIL/ES 343/442 Comparative 
Environmental Law & Philosophical-Policy Design
PHIL 350 Special Topics in Philosophy, Law & Public Policy

Two 100-level courses (8 credits)
A student may, with permission from the Philosophy Department, substitute a course from a different department in a germane subject for one of these courses:
PHIL 105 Ethics 
PHIL 116 Bioethics
PHIL 122 Philosophy of Law
PHIL 125 Social and Political Philosophy
PHIL 117 Philosophy of Race
PHIL 172 Philosophy of Economics

And at least one philosophy course at the 200-level or above (4 credits)
A second core course can be taken to fulfill this requirement

Click here for minor declaration form