Undergraduate Requirements

The Department offers a Major in Philosophy, a Minor in Philosophy, an accelerated BA/MA program, and collaborates with the Berman Institute of Bioethics to offer a Minor in Bioethics.

Major Requirements

Philosophy majors must take 11 departmental courses. A minimum of six courses must be at the 300 level or higher. Of the two general introductory courses, 150.111 Philosophic Classics and 150.112 Philosophic Problems, only one may count toward the major, and no more than two 100-level courses in total may count toward the major. Majors are required to take the Undergraduate Seminar, preferably in the junior year.

In addition, the following distribution requirements must be satisfied:

  • One course in ancient philosophy
  • One course in modern philosophy
  • One course in logic, philosophy of science, or philosophy of mathematics
  • One course in philosophy of mind, theory of knowledge, philosophy of language, or metaphysics
  • One course in ethics, aesthetics, or political philosophy

The first two categories are normally satisfied by taking Introduction to Greek Philosophy and Introduction to the History of Modern Philosophy.

Five more elective courses in the department (subject to the restrictions in the first paragraph) are therefore needed to complete the major, in addition to the distribution requirements and the Undergraduate Seminar.

Well-qualified majors may be admitted to a graduate seminar during their senior year. They should consult their major adviser. Courses in which a grade of D is received may not count toward the major, nor may courses taken pass/fail.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding these updated requirements, please contact the director of undergraduate studies or visit the Philosophy section of the Academic Catalog website.

Honors Program

Students with an overall GPA of 3.0 and a philosophy GPA of 3.5 or higher (or outstanding recommendations from three department members) are eligible for the Senior Honors Thesis program.

In addition to the 11 courses required for the major, successful applicants take two courses, 150.551 and 150.552, using them to write a thesis of approximately 50 pages under the supervision of a faculty member.

The thesis must be completed by three weeks prior to the end of classes in the spring of the senior year. If the student withdraws prior to completion of a thesis, a pass/fail grade will be awarded. The grade for the thesis will depend on the thesis itself and an oral examination about it, conducted by the thesis adviser and one other faculty member. (If the two examiners cannot agree on the grade, a third faculty member will be asked to read the thesis; the grade will then be the one agreed upon by two of the three readers.) Graduation honors will be awarded to those whose work receives an A- or better.

For more information about the Honors Program, contact the department’s director of undergraduate studies.

Double Majors

Students are encouraged to link the study of philosophy with the study of another discipline. For example, students may double major in philosophy and psychology because the subject matter and course requirements are compatible. Other examples include:

  • A double major in philosophy and literature or the history of art gives students a solid background in aesthetics.
  • A double major in philosophy and science is valuable for students interested in the philosophy of science.
  • A double major in philosophy and political science benefits students who wish to study ethics, political theory, and the political realities in which morality must function.

Department faculty are available to assist students in planning double majors tailored to their interests.

Minor in Philosophy

Philosophy minors must take seven departmental courses, which should include the following:

  • At least one course in the history of philosophy, either ancient or modern
  • At least one course in two of the following areas:
    • Logic, philosophy of science, or philosophy of mathematics
    • Ethics, aesthetics, or political philosophy
    • Philosophy of mind, theory of knowledge, philosophy of language, or metaphysics

Either 150.111 Philosophic Classics or 150.112 Philosophic Problems, but not both, may count as one of the seven courses. Neither is a required course.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding these updated requirements, please contact the director of undergraduate studies.

Minor in Bioethics

The practice of medicine, the development of public health policies, and advances in the biomedical sciences raise fundamental moral and philosophical issues. The bioethics program is designed to provide students with an understanding of these issues, and the background and the conceptual tools to think about them clearly. The program is a collaboration between the Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Department of Philosophy, and draws on the resources of both. The requirements for the bioethics minor can be found on the Academic Catalog website.