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The Philosophy Major

The philosophy major is designed to provide a broad exposure to the key areas of philosophy as well as a strong foundation in its history. Philosophy at Lehigh emphasizes the close reading and critical evaluation of classic texts from ancient times to the present. You can expect to develop sophisticated analytic and expository skills that will enable you to engage in original, critical reflection on your own. Majoring in philosophy provides excellent preparation if you are considering going on to graduate school. It also provides a solid footing for any career that places a premium upon clear, careful thinking, rigorous conceptual and analytical skills, and effective written and oral communication.

The philosophy major consists of a minimum of 40 credits. There are six specified course requirements and four free elective courses of which two 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. Detailed information can be found in the university's course catalog.

Major Requirements

Core Requirements (24 credits)

Select one of the following two courses:

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.

"I think there’s a real sense of community building in the department, and the few students who are passionate about the subject, along with the amazing department administration and professors, are helping make being a philosophy major at Lehigh something really special."

Xavier Piccone
— Xavier Piccone '23


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, you should apply to the department in the spring of your junior year. Applications will detail the subject matter of the proposed thesis and a timeline for its completion; they will demonstrate that you have secured the support of a faculty advisor who has determined that you are philosophically able to complete the thesis. 

If approved to write an Honors Thesis, you 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. You will not be permitted to enroll in PHIL 391 for the second semester if your faculty advisor deems your progress towards thesis completion during the first semester (PHIL 390) unsatisfactory.

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

  • 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 
  • 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.

Considering Graduate Studies?

It is recommended that majors planning to pursue graduate study in philosophy follow the below steps:

  1. Apply for Honors
  2. Discuss their career plans with a faculty member during their junior year
  3. Make sure to include the following 4 specific courses in their programs:
    1. PHIL 114 Symbolic Logic
    2. PHIL 220 Epistemology
    3. PHIL 221 Metaphysics
    4. PHIL 250 Philosophy of Mind 

Declare a Philosophy Major

Students who wish to declare a philosophy major should complete the Major Declaration Form.

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