Undergraduate Program

The overarching goal of the undergraduate Philosophy program is to produce thoughtful, articulate, liberally-educated citizens capable of philosophical reflection on fundamental problems of human existence. Also, because Georgetown is a Catholic university, Georgetown students should have the opportunity to learn to think in depth about the problems posed by a life of faith. This objective is furthered by the study of Philosophy, because it is a systematic study of ideas and issues, a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for a comprehensive understanding of the world, a study of principles of conduct, and much more. Every domain of human experience raises questions to which its techniques and theories apply, and its methods may be used in the study of any subject or the pursuit of any vocation. Our goal is to equip majors and minors not just with skills for a trade or profession, but with important skills for living with themselves from day to day.

With this overarching goal in view, our program has three objectives: to endow the student with philosophical skills, philosophical literacy, and the opportunity to do original philosophical research. The first of these objectives is based on the fact that Philosophy is a discipline requiring skills in reasoning and writing. Our goal is to help students to develop the abilities to:

  • Read texts closely
  • Analyze positions critically
  • Uncover tacit presuppositions
  • Construct cogent arguments
  • Explain and argue in clear persuasive writing

Although every course in our program is designed to further these goals, two requirements for majors are specifically geared toward the above: a logic course and a writing seminar, in which students learn the fundaments of philosophical writing.

The second objective is to endow the student with philosophical literacy, that is, an acquaintance with the thought of major philosophers both then and now, and with many of philosophy’s perennial problems. Towards that end, majors are required to take two courses in Texts & Traditions and two Topics courses, one in LEMMS (Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Mind, Science) and one in normative philosophy.

The third objective is to offer students the opportunity to do original philosophical research. Toward this end, we have an honors program in which students may undertake the writing of an honors thesis.

New course numbering system, effective Fall 2023

  • 1000-1999: Introductory core courses (fulfill first university core requirement)
  • 2000-2999: Intermediate core courses (fulfill second university core requirement)
    • 2000-2499: fulfill the core requirement in ethics
    • 2500-2999: fulfill the core requirement in general philosophy 
  • 3000-3999: Lower-level major and minor courses (prerequisite of two core courses) 
  • 4000-4999: Advanced major and minor courses, lower-level graduate courses (prerequisite of one 3000-level course, except PHIL 4000 Symbolic Logic)