Majors & Minors

Major in Philosophy

Major Credit and Course Requirements

Students who elect to take philosophy as a major must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. At least 33 credits of philosophy altogether, of which at least 30 must be at the 100-level or above, and a minimum of 21 must be at the 200-level or above.
  2. The four-credit History of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy course (PHIL 280) and the four-credit History of Modern Philosophy course (PHIL 282).
  3. At least one four-credit Text Seminar (PHIL 320) preferably by the end of their junior year.
  4. At least one course in logic (PHIL 151 or PHIL 350) by the end of their junior year that covers the predicate calculus, including difficult translations using relations and multiple quantifiers, and also formal proofs using such sentences. 
  5. From the class of 2018 forward, philosophy majors must complete the following distribution requirement as well: Complete at least one foundational course in metaphysics/epistemology (PHIL211, PHIL212, PHIL213, PHIL214, PHIL215) and at least one foundational course in normative theory (PHIL230, PHIL231, PHIL232, PHIL233, or PHIL245)

A major who takes a bridge course as one of his or her general education courses can satisfy the requirements for the major in as few as ten courses; a major who takes two 0-level courses as his or her general education courses will require eleven courses to satisfy those requirements.

Integrated Writing Requirement

The Department of Philosophy takes as unquestionable that majors-level courses in our discipline will, in almost every case, involve writing as a central component.  There are various genres of philosophical writing, and different courses will call upon students to exercise their abilities in distinct genres.  These genres include exposition of texts, careful reconstruction of arguments, criticism of arguments or positions, situation of arguments and views within their historical contexts, development of original theses or arguments, and so forth.  Important philosophical work is done within each of these (and other) genres, and philosophy students can expect to be called upon to develop their skills in multiple genres as they progress through the major.

While philosophy majors can expect to have distinctive experiences in their writing within the major, all majors are required to take a four-credit-hour Text Seminar (PHIL320), in which there is close attention paid to the development of philosophical writing in dialogue with classic philosophical texts.  This Text Seminar satisfies the University‚Äôs Integrated Writing Requirement.  

Advising for Majors

When declaring a major in philosophy, students are required to meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who is the academic advisor for all philosophy majors. Students are also encouraged to pick a philosophy faculty member of their choosing as their mentor. Majors are welcome to review their course selections with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Special circumstances–such as difficulties resulting from studying abroad, from double majoring, or from late declaring–should be brought to the attention of the Undergraduate Director.

Bioethics Concentration for Philosophy Majors

Philosophy majors can earn a Bioethics Concentration by completing (a) Ethical Theory (PHIL 232) and (b) three bioethics courses such that (i) at least one is an upper-level philosophy course, (ii) no more than two are offered outside the department and count towards the concentration, and (iii) no more than one is offered outside the department and count toward the major. It is possible with planning and a little luck to complete all the requirements for the major and the bioethics concentration in ten courses.

For more information, please visit the Kennedy Institute of Ethics website.  Follow the link to the Bioethics Minor.

Minors in Philosophy or Philosophy and Bioethics

Minor in Philosophy

For a minor in philosophy, a student must complete six courses in philosophy: two general education courses and four additional courses. At least two of these six courses must be at the 200-level or above.

Minor in Philosophy and Bioethics

This minor requires six courses. A minimum of four must be taught by the Department of Philosophy; up to two can be approved courses taught in other departments. Philosophy courses that count toward the minor include the philosophy courses taken to satisfy the General Education Requirements; Ethical Theory (PHIL 232); any philosophy course that intersects significantly with bioethical issues, and up to one course in the philosophy of science. Philosophy of science courses, as well as those taught outside the Philosophy Department, must be approved by the Bioethics Minor Coordinator. Finally, at least two of the philosophy courses taken for the minor must be at the 200-level or above.

For more information, please visit the Kennedy Institute of Ethics website.

Interdisciplinary Study

The philosophy department is receptive to interdisciplinary programs of study whenever these can be worked out. Courses outside the department can be counted toward a student’s major only with the permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Such permission should be requested before registering.