Major

The philosophy side of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies formally consists of three members: Michael Greene, Ph.D., Andrew Kelley, Ph.D., and Mihai Vlad Niculescu, Ph.D., Ph.D.. In addition, several of the members of the religious studies side of the department have either a background or a strong interest in philosophy. The foci of the department are the history of philosophy and continental philosophy. Even given the department’s emphasis on quality teaching, its members continue to be active in research and publication.

A major in philosophy requires the completion of 24 hours (8 courses), while 15 hours (5 courses) of class work is needed to complete a philosophy minor. Ideally, in his or her first year, the student will take one of the entry-level courses—“Inquiry into Values,” “Ethics,” or “Logic”—and then proceed to the yearlong “Proseminar” sequence in the second year. The Proseminar is designed to develop the reading, writing, and researching skills that every major should have by the end of his/her program of study. Once the student has completed these basic courses, he or she will move on to upper-level courses that are centered around the in-depth study of an important text or theme. The goal is to develop in each student, by the time of graduation, a deep knowledge of several classic texts in the history of philosophy. (Examples include: Plato’s Symposium, Descartes’ Meditations, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Heidegger’s Being and Time, and Lévinas’ Totality and Infinity) as well as an ability to write clearly and critically. The department strongly encourages its majors to develop a working knowledge of at least one foreign language.

The size of these upper-level courses tends to be small, even by the University’s standards. As a result, we work closely with our majors and minors. Many of our students chose to take a second major, but this is not always the case. Our major and minors routinely go on to graduate school in many fields, but lately, we have many who have pursued graduate education in law, psychology, and sociology. Furthermore, the department has a strong record of placing its graduates into both master’s and doctoral programs in philosophy.

Requirements

To major in philosophy a student must:

  • Complete not less than 24 semester hours in philosophy, including not less than 20 hours in courses numbered 200 or above;
  • Have a grade point average exceeding 2.0 in all philosophy courses numbered 200 or above; and
  • Select a member of the philosophy faculty as an academic advisor in order to plan the choice and sequence of philosophy courses, and obtain approval of this plan by the philosophy faculty; and

Complete the all-University course requirements and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences course requirements. Philosophy majors may earn either a B.S. or B.A. degree. Philosophy majors intending to pursue a graduate degree in philosophy, however, are urged to fulfill the B.A. requirements. The philosophy program provides individualized curricula for students majoring in philosophy. Besides preparation for teaching on the college level, a major in philosophy serves as an excellent pre-law curriculum. In addition, students majoring in economics, the political and social sciences, arts and humanities, history, communications, psychology, and business will find a second major in philosophy eminently beneficial in their own fields of academic emphasis.