Philosophy Major

Program Director: Rachel Singpurwalla, Ph.D.

Philosophy investigates the foundations of reality, knowledge, and value. Students can expect to receive training in these areas, and also in clear thinking, inventive synthesis, and precise expression. For some, this will serve as preparation for graduate studies in philosophy. However, philosophical skills are useful in professions such as law, medicine, government, business management, and in any field that demands intellectual rigor. The department offers a wide range of courses, including courses on historical figures, such as Plato and Kant, traditional philosophical topics, such as the nature of the human mind, free will, and the just society, and several that deal with the philosophy of various disciplines outside philosophy itself, such as philosophy of physics and philosophy of law.

Program Objectives

The philosophy program aims to:

  1. Provide students with an understanding of a range of philosophers and philosophical problems, while encouraging as deep a critical engagement with those philosophers and problems as is feasible in the time available.
  2. Equip students with the core skills involved in: careful reading; sympathetic interpretation and understanding; critical reflection; rational argumentation; creative problem solving; and the clear and well-organized expression of ideas. 
  3. Facilitate an awareness of the application of philosophical thought to other academic disciplines or to matters of public interest, encouraging students to apply philosophical skills more widely where appropriate.

Program Learning Outcomes

By the end of the program of study:

  1. Students should be competent in formal techniques, including, but not limited to, formal logic.
  2. Students should be able to provide an exegesis of a philosophical argument.
  3. Students should be able to articulate a clear, coherent thesis on a philosophical issue and place it in the context of the relevant literature.
  4. Students should be able to present a reasoned defense of a philosophical thesis.
Course Title Credits
College Requirements
Select 12 courses in philosophy distributed as follows: 136
Four courses at 3xx-level or above
Two courses at 4xx-level or above
One course in logic at any level
Two or more courses at 2xx-level or above in the history of pre-twentieth century philosophy
Two or more courses at 2xx-level or above in value theory (including aesthetics and political philosophy as well as ethics)
Two or more courses at 2xx-level or above in metaphysics or epistemology (including philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of religion, as well as metaphysics and theory of knowledge)
Total Credits36

Up to nine credits from outside of PHIL may be counted towards the philosophy degree upon departmental approval.

A total of at least 36 credit hours in philosophy (up to three credits of an internship course (PHIL386) can count towards the major). For a course to count toward a student's major, the grade in the course must be "C-" or above. For students who matriculated in September 2012 or later, the average of all grades counted toward the major must be 2.0 or greater. Therefore, grades of "C-" will have to be balanced with higher grades. (C- counts as 1.7 toward the GPA.)

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