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Majoring or Minoring in Philosophy

Philosophy Major:

The Philosophy major comprises 42 hours of classes.  A student majoring in philosophy starts with 15 hours of basics—introductions to philosophy, ethics, logic (2 courses), and comparative religious thought.  These are the required basics for a student:

  • *11001  Introduction to Philosophy
  • *11009  Principles of Thinking
  • *21001  Introduction to Ethics
  • *21002  Introduction to Formal Logic or 31045 Formal Logic
  • *21020  Comparative Religious Thought I

Beyond these basics a student chooses (at least) four courses (12 hours) in philosophy's history.  Philosophy's history courses are:

  • 31001   Ancient Greek Philosophy
  • 31002   Medieval Philosophy
  • 31003   Continental Rationalism
  • 31004   British Empiricism
  • 31005   German Critical Philosophy
  • 31006   Nineteenth Century Philosophy
  • 31010   Twentieth Century Philosophy
  • 31020   American Philosophy

Each of these courses in philosophy's history is taught as a Writing Intensive Course (WIC) so that a philosophy major takes (at least) four courses with a heavy emphasis on sequenced, varied, and closely counseled writing endeavors.

In addition to the required 27 hours of basics and history, a philosophy major requires 15 upper division hours, at least 9 hours (three courses) at the 40000 level.  The 40000-level courses that a major may elect are courses offered jointly to advanced undergraduates and to graduate students in the department's masters program.  This graduate program emphasizes pluralism and aims to keep fidelity with philosophy's tradition while exploring and expanding newer and emerging views of philosophy's possibilities.

Philosophy Minor:

To minor in philosophy a student must take seven courses.  A student selects any three of these basic courses:

  • *11001  Introduction to Philosophy
  • *11009  Principles of Thinking
  • *21001  Introduction to Ethics
  • *21002  Introduction to Formal Logic

Along with these basics, a student chooses four further courses, at least three of which (9 hours) are upper division courses.  These courses must include one of the history of philosophy courses (31001, 31002, 31003, 31004, 31005, 31010, 31020) and one course at the 40000 level (other than 40093, 49996, and 49999).

When course prerequisites are taken into account, the sequence for a philosophy major (or minor) has, then, these features: Three introductory courses (including one of the logic courses) are to be taken before taking any of the history of philosophy courses.  At least one of the history courses must precede any 40000 level course.

The philosophy major (and minor) as specified leave student considerable flexibility for further focus in philosophy and leave student free for substantial work outside philosophy.

Note that the courses listed above that are marked with asterisks (*) fulfill Kent Core requirements.  If a freshman student is undecided on major or even on college, it might make sense to follow a philosophy major or minor.  For the Kent Core courses in Philosophy, whether Humanities or in Math/Logic/Foreign Languages, can be counted also toward a philosophy major or minor.  And if another choice is made, work in the philosophy major or minor, or even one or more philosophy courses, gives some exposure to areas of learning broader than only some current vocational concern but at the same time aims to develop capacities relevant to almost any vocational or scholarly discipline.

Formal Declaration of a Major or a Minor in Philosophy

Beyond any statement of intent in admission or other documents, a formal declaration of a major or minor is required. Students who wish to declare a major or minor in philosophy should visit the College of Arts and Sciences office in 105 Bowman Hall to fill out the necessary paperwork. The College office will forward the information to the Philosophy Department, and the Undergraduate Coordinator will assign the student a member of the philosophy faculty as an adviser.

Career Opportunities

Philosophy is not a specifically job-oriented major the way a major in journalism or nursing might be.  Still students majoring in philosophy find themselves well educated in skills attractive to a range of potential employers.  Students with a philosophy background are able to make fine distinctions, to follow and construct arguments, to express themselves well in writing, and to read demanding texts with penetration and care.

Because of their liberal arts backgrounds, philosophy majors may gain employment in a variety of areas.  Training in critical thought can be especially important in business or editing careers.  A humanities background that aids in the understanding of different people and their thought processes and belief sets provides a foundation for employment in public relations, in marketing, and in diplomatic or other government service, including policy analysis.

By far, the largest vocation of philosophers is teaching.  This teaching is done mostly at the college and university level and requires a Ph.D. degree.  Recently, a number of high schools across the country have begun to offer courses in philosophy or the humanities.  One can teach at that level with a B.A. or M.A. degree in philosophy and the appropriate certification in education.  Some teaching at the community college level can be done with an M.A. degree in philosophy.

A scholarship is provided through the Honors College.  Please consult the honors college for details.