Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

BA in Philosophy

BA in Philosophy

The philosophy major at Loyola is extremely customizable and easily suited to your goals. Of the 11 courses required for the major, only 3 are fixed: PHIL 274 (Logic), 304 (Ancient Philosophy), and 309 (Early Modern Philosophy). Beyond that, you have flexibility to chart your own course. You can also choose to specialize in one of four areas: Ethics & Values (E&V); Law, Society, & Social Justice (LSSJ); Mind & Science (M&S); or Existence, Meaning, & Culture (EMC). (See Philosophy Major Specializations for more details.)

Feel free to reach out to our Undergraduate Program Director Brandon Morgan-Olsen at bmorganolsen@luc.edu with any questions!

Philosophy BA Facts

 Generally speaking, philosophy majors have the highest starting salary of all Humanities majors, and their salaries increase more than any other Humanities major by mid-career. For example, philosophy majors have higher mid-career salaries than those who major in Accounting, Communication, Political Science, Biology, Nursing, Journalism, Psychology, or Advertising. (Relevant data here.)

 If you would like to pursue a graduate degree (for example, JD, MBA, or PhD), you will have to apply to graduate programs. Most graduate programs will require you to take a standardized exam (GRE, LSAT, or GMAT) and report your score to them in your application.

Philosophy majors do remarkably well on these exams. They have incredibly high composite GRE, LSAT, and GMAT scores compared to all other majors. (Relevant data here.)

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, for example, 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 the usefulness of philosophy in various careers.

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; 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. Also, because of the CORE structure at LUC, you have likely already taken a number of courses that will count towards your philosophy major. So, a second major in philosophy can better prepare you for a profession in your first field or for graduate school, without overly burdening your academic schedule.

In fact, we are convinced that, for many students, philosophy is the best second major!

Degree Requirements

Note that Philosophy majors are exempt from the general LUC PHIL 130 CORE requirement.

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 courses. 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 (130, 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 capstone seminar (395–399) in a historical period or in a contemporary issue.
    • The department offers one capstone in each major specialization area each year.
  • Five other elective philosophy courses, of which at least four must be at the 300-level

(Optional) Philosophy Major Specializations

Specializing within the major is not required. Declaring a general philosophy major is common and allows for the greatest flexibility in your course selection.

That said, choosing to pursue a philosophy specialization can help you to:

  • Identify what fields within philosophy you find most fascinating and relevant;
  • Plan a course of study within your major that emphasizes your interests;
  • Signal to future employers and graduate schools the specific focus of your undergraduate degree.

Again, the four areas of specialization within the philosophy major are: Ethics & Values (E&V); Law, Society, & Social Justice (LSSJ); Mind & Science (M&S); or Existence, Meaning, & Culture (EMC). For more information, see Philosophy Major Specializations.

To declare a Philosophy Major Specialization, contact the Philosophy Undergraduate Program Director (Brandon Morgan-Olsen).

Learning Outcomes

Graduating Philosophy majors from Loyola University of Chicago are expected to demonstrate progress in three areas of philosophical knowledge – the history of philosophy; moral philosophy and related areas; and in the perennial philosophical problems related to knowledge and reality – as well as progress towards the mastery of philosophical methods and modes of expression.

  • Demonstrate a general familiarity with major figures, schools and debates ranging from ancient Greece through the 20th century.
  • Be able to recognize the significance of historical philosophy to ongoing philosophical debates and contemporary issues.
  • Be able to recognize and appreciate the diversity of philosophical methodology across history.
  • Be able to apply insights drawn from their study of the history of philosophy to ongoing philosophical debates.

In moral philosophy, students should...

  • Demonstrate a general familiarity with the major theories of normative ethics.
  • Be able to explain the issues at stake in some of the standard meta-ethical disputes in philosophy, for example moral relativism and other issues related to the objectivity of morality.
  • Be able to apply such philosophical theories to analyze a range of moral issues from the individual to the social and political.

Regarding perennial philosophical problems, students should…

  • Demonstrate a general familiarity with classical philosophical problems related to the nature of knowledge; the relationship between other varieties of inquiry, especially natural science, and philosophical wisdom; the nature of reality; the nature and existence of God; and the nature of human persons.
  • Explain the significance of these problems and the arguments for and against various proposed responses to them.
  • Be able to apply this understanding to construct and defend their own positions on at least some of these issues.

Regarding philosophical methodology, students should be able to…

  • Interpret philosophical texts, especially be able to recognize and isolate central philosophical claims and the reasons offered in their defense.
  • Recognize and evaluate the structure of a philosophical argument.
  • Construct and articulate philosophical claims of their own, including the use of other philosophical work to clarify that claim and place it into appropriate context.
  • Defend a philosophical claim, both orally and in writing, demonstrating especially a self-critical awareness of the weaknesses of one’s own position and the value of rigorous argument and clarity of expression.

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

Departmental Honors

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.

Academic Advising

Students pursuing the BA in Philosophy degree should plan their 

selection of courses with the Philosophy Undergraduate Director, or with their designated advisor, each semester prior to registration.

Double-Dipping Policy

  1. Students may not major and minor in the same discipline.
  2. Majors: Not less than 21 credit hours in the individual student’s transcript must be unique to each major; that is, the courses in question are considered as actually fulfilling requirements of one major, not of more than one major.
  3. Minors and interdisciplinary minors: not less than 8 credit hours in the individual student’s transcript must be unique to each minor; that is, the courses in question are considered as actually fulfilling requirements of one minor, not of more than one minor or major.

 For further information, please contact the Philosophy Undergraduate Program Director Brandon Morgan-Olsen.