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Major Requirements

Philosophy explores and critically examines the deeper meanings of human life and the world in which we live. It studies the foundations of all forms of knowledge and human activity and the interconnections among them. Its studies include the nature of existence, knowledge, and value; human reasoning and its limits; art, science, literature, and the human condition; and justice and the nature of the good. It unifies these diverse topics by concentrating on the fundamental nature of human experience and cognition as well as the conceptual foundations of the sciences.

A major in philosophy gives students access to the fruits of 2,500 years of thought on matters of ultimate concern. It encourages and provides the means of thinking effectively about timeless questions through a study of important writings on these topics. A successful student of philosophy is equipped to engage in intellectual conversation on a range of topics of both classical and contemporary concern. The study of philosophy encourages breadth and depth of understanding and promotes the ability to think cogently and rigorously. Philosophy majors prepare themselves for a wide range of professional and business occupations that value highly developed skills of analysis, comprehensive thinking, and communication. Students majoring in Philosophy commonly pursue careers in law, medicine, business, technology, public service, teaching, and editing and publishing. In addition to its focus on the broader intellectual aspects of liberal studies, the Department of Philosophy stresses interdisciplinary studies in emerging fields such as feminism, computation and consciousness, environmentalism, philosophy of technology, and cross-cultural philosophies from a global perspective.

Requirements for the Major in Philosophy (PHI)

The major in Philosophy leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Philosophy courses are distributed among three categories indicated, in parentheses after the title of the course. Courses offered for the major must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher. No more than two 100-level philosophy courses may be used to satisfy major requirements.

Completion of the major requires 36 credits.

  1. PHI 300 Ancient Philosophy and PHI 306 Modern Philosophy
  2. PHI 108 Logical and Critical Reasoning or 220 Introduction to Symbolic Logic (Students who expect to pursue graduate study in Philosophy should choose PHI 220)
  3. Upper-Division Writing Requirement
  4. PHI 395 Junior Seminar
  5. PHI 401 Individual Systems of the Great Philosophers or PHI 402 Analysis of Philosophic Texts
  6. 21 additional credits of Philosophy coursework. Note that no more than two 100-level philosophy courses may be used to satisfy major requirements.

Philosophy majors must successfully complete PHI 458 Speak Effectively Before an Audience and PHI 459 Write Effectively in Philosophy. These courses can be taken during PHI 395 Junior Seminar or another 300-level philosophy course that calls for intensive writing to satisfy the Upper Division Writing Requirement. Students who wish to satisfy this requirement must inform the instructor of their intention to do so no later than the third week of the semester. The student's essays will be appraised for the advanced writing skills appropriate to Philosophy majors in addition to the appraisal for the course. A student must satisfy the Upper Division Writing Requirement in order to register for PHI 401Individual Systems of the Great Philosophers or PHI 402 Analysis of Philosophic Texts. 

Note: Students who expect to pursue graduate study should include PHI 220 in their programs. Philosophy majors and other interested students who would like to spend a semester or a year studying in France, Germany, England, Spain, Italy, or other countries, should consult the Department's Director of Undergraduate Studies. With the permission of the Department, Philosophy majors may also use credits from other study abroad programs to satisfy major requirements.