BA in Philosophy
What can I do with a BA in philosophy?
Majoring in philosophy helps students prepare for future careers by teaching them valuable intellectual skills, including how to:
- Think rigorously
- Express ideas clearly and logically
- Understand and evaluate conflicting points of view
- Reason in a careful way
Philosophy raises fundamental questions about ourselves and the world, which result in a sharpened perception of the value of our lives and an increased ability of analysis. Such critical ability enables students to better understand the world around them; to evaluate the values and social forms by which we live; to ask which values should have priority and why; to make judgments about how various social structures realize, or fail to realize, these values.
In addition to offering extensive courses on philosophical thought, the Philosophy Department supports the career interests of its students, offering courses in logic, medical ethics, business ethics, philosophy of law, various courses in social philosophy, philosophy of science, and philosophy of religion.
Career opportunities for philosophy majors include academics, law, business, public administration, journalism, health care and more. Some students become teachers of philosophy; others recognize it as excellent preparation for law school. Philosophy provides a valuable foundation for careers in communication, public administration and policy making by teaching the student how to identify and examine the underlying questions of values and methodology implied in every practical decision. The American Philosophical Association has on its Website an informative statement on Career Opportunities with a Philosophy Major.
What about philosophy as a second major?
This can be a great idea. Your first major likely raises questions about values or methodology that philosophy can explore; so philosophy can deepen and broaden your training in your first major. It can also enhance your intellectual skills—to question, to think seriously, and to speak clearly. So, a second major in philosophy can better prepare you for a profession in your first field or for graduate school.
All majors must take at least eleven (11) courses in philosophy. Seven of these courses must be at the 300-level (eight, if 301 is taken). Note that 300-level courses have a prerequisite of two philosophy course. Each student's major program must include:
- One lower-level philosophy course from the ethics group (181, 182, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 288, 289), or a 300-level equivalent
- One epistemology group (271, 272, 273, 275, 276, 277, 279), or a 300-level equivalent
- One course in formal logic (274 or 301)
- One course in ancient philosophy (304)
- One course in classical modern philosophy (309)
- One philosophy seminar (395–399) in a historical period or in a contemporary issue
- Five other electives philosophy courses, of which at least four must be at the 300-level
Suggested Sequence of Courses
- First year—two core courses—in metaphysics/epistemology and ethics/social political (as above)
- Second year—three courses—in logic, ancient philosophy, and classical modern philosophy (274/301, 304, 309)
- Third year—three courses—all electives, at least two at the 300-level
- Fourth year—three courses—two 300-level electives, plus a capstone seminar course
To graduate with honors in philosophy, a student must:
- Satisfy all philosophy major requirements
- Have a GPA of 3.5 or higher in philosophy
- Take one additional 300-level course in philosophy as approved by the Honors Advisor
- Complete an honors philosophy thesis paper and pass an oral defense of it
For a complete description of the requirements and procedures, go to the Honors in Philosophy page.
Students pursuing the BA in Philosophy degree should plan their selection of courses with the Philosophy Undergraduate Director, or with their designated advisor, or with a member of the Philosophy Undergraduate Majors and Minors Committee each semester prior to registration.