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
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.
1. In the history of philosophy students should…
- 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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
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.
- Students may not major and minor in the same discipline.
- 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.
- 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.