Major & Minor Programs in Philosophy
The Major Program
The major program in philosophy is designed to provide a broad exposure to the major areas of philosophy as well as a strong grounding in the history of the western philosophical tradition. The program emphasizes the close reading and critical evaluation of classic texts from ancient times to the present, and students can expect to develop sophisticated analytic and expository skills that will enable them to engage in original, critical reflection on their own. The major program provides excellent preparation for graduate study in philosophy as well as a solid foundation for any career that places a premium upon clear, careful thinking, rigorous conceptual and analytical skills, and effective written and oral communication.
The major consists of a minimum of 40 credits in philosophy. These must include PHIL 292 Philosophical Methods (2 credits) for junior majors, the senior thesis sequence PHIL 390 (2 credits) and PHIL 391 (6 credits), and 16 credits of Disciplinary Area courses. At least 12 credits in addition to PHIL 292, 390, and 391 must be at the 200-level or above. Independent studies may be taken to satisfy major requirements.
Thesis and Methods (8 credits)
PHIL 292 Philosophical Methods
PHIL 390 Senior Thesis
PHIL 391 Senior Thesis
Disciplinary Areas (16 credits)
Logic. 1 course from the following: PHIL 114, 115, 303
Ethics. 1 course from the following: PHIL 8, 105, 116, 205, 206
History of Philosophy. 2 courses from the following: PHIL 131, 132, 133, 135, 137, 139, 231, 232, 233, 235, 237, 239
Advanced Courses (12 credits)
In addition to PHIL 292, PHIL 390, and PHIL 391, majors must take 12 credits of courses at the 200-level or above. Disciplinary Area courses can satisfy this requirement.
Majors are strongly encouraged to fulfill their junior writing-intensive requirement by taking a WI-designated philosophy course.
The senior thesis is a year-long independent project during which philosophy majors, with the consent and under the guidance of a philosophy faculty advisor, investigate a topic of special interest to them. The topic may be historical or non-historical, pure or applied, disciplinary or interdisciplinary; the only constraint is that the topic must be approved by the thesis advisor. Seniors take PHIL 390 in the fall, devoting their energies to refining the topic, working through the bulk of the essential literature, and producing a paper roughly 20 pages in length on the thesis topic. PHIL 391 is taken in the spring semester of the senior year and is focused on investigating the topic more intensively, expanding, revising, and refining the fall paper into a substantial senior thesis roughly 50 pages in length.
Departmental honors in philosophy are awarded to graduating seniors who satisfy the following two criteria: (a) at the start of their final semester, their overall GPA is 3.25 or higher and their GPA in philosophy is 3.5 or higher, and (b) their senior thesis receives an A from the thesis advisor and then is judged by the whole department faculty to be well-researched, well-argued, well-organized, well-written, and to exhibit original philosophical thinking.
Majors planning to pursue graduate study in philosophy are strongly encouraged to strive for Honors and to include the following courses in their programs:
PHIL 105 Ethics
PHIL 114 Symbolic Logic
PHIL 131 Ancient Philosophy
PHIL 135 Modern Philosophy
and at least one of
PHIL 220 Theory of Knowledge
PHIL 221 Metaphysics
PHIL 250 Philosophy of Mind
The Minor Program
The minor in philosophy consists of a minimum of 16 credits, at least 4 credits of which must in at the 200-level or above. Independent studies may be taken to satisfy the minor requirements. At least two courses taken for the minor must be taught by a member of the Philosophy Department. Minor programs are planned in conjunction with the departmental advisor who will help the student plan a program compatible with his or her interests. Minor programs may be, but do not have to be, focused in a particular area such as ethics or the history of philosophy or philosophy of mind.