Information for Philosophy Majors


Junior YearSenior Year
May December April
  • Submit proposal to conduct independent study in preparation for Honors Thesis
  • New Honors Thesis proposal due
  • Honors Thesis invitations extended
  • Honors Theses due
  • Oral exams

Philosophy courses provide the opportunity for the development of a critical and unified understanding of experience and nature. This is accomplished through their concern — from both historical and contemporary perspectives — with the ethical, social and political, aesthetic, religious, metaphysical, epistemological, and scientific dimensions of existence.

The major in philosophy has three components: Reading in the Western Philosophical Tradition (12 credits), the portfolio, and for those who qualify, an honors thesis with its public oral examination (8 credits). All majors will take a minimum of 28 credits, 12 (three courses) in Reading in the Western Philosophical Tradition and eight (two courses) at the 300 or 400 level. Writing an honors thesis will raise the minimum credits to a total of 36. The minor in philosophy requires a minimum of 20 credits, including Philosophy 201 and 202.

Reading in the Western Philosophical Tradition (a total of 12 credits)

Majors will take a two-course sequence, Philosophy 201 Ancient Philosophy and Philosophy 202 Modern Philosophy, in which texts from Plato to Kant will be read closely. Having completed this sequence, majors will then take a third course of their choice in which they will follow out an interest generated from their reading. Finally, upon completion of these three courses, each major will write a 2,000-word paper that critically defines and discusses a topic that took on special interest and developed through their work in the three courses.

The Portfolio

Each major will gather a portfolio of the following written work to be submitted to the department by the end of the third week of classes in spring semester of their senior year:

  1. the rewriting of a seminar paper from a 300- to 400-level course,
  2. the 2,000-word narrative paper satisfying the Reading in the Western Philosophical Tradition requirement,
  3. a 1,000-word intellectual autobiography describing how you have developed your own philosophical perspective through your work in the major that will be graded by the department as pass, fail, or pass with distinction.

The Honors Thesis (a total of eight credits)

Majors interested in writing an honors thesis must:

  1. Submit a proposal to the department two weeks before the end of the spring semester of their junior year.
  2. Get consent from a member of the department based on departmental approval of the proposal to conduct an independent study in the fall semester of their senior year.
  3. Upon completion of a successful independent study, submit a new honors thesis proposal for departmental approval by the beginning of the last week of classes in the fall semester of their senior year. If approved, then write the honors thesis in the spring semester of their senior year due the end of the first week in April.
  4. Successfully complete a public oral examination of the honors thesis before the end of the third week of April.

Honors in the Major

To receive honors in the major a student must earn at least an A- on both the honors thesis and its public oral examination in addition to passing with distinction both the portfolio and its oral examination.

Distribution Credit

All four-credit courses in philosophy meet the equivalent of three periods per week. Courses will apply to the humanities distribution area, except for Philosophy 109, which will apply to the quantitative distribution area, and Philosophy 225 Critical Race Theory, and Philosophy 235 Philosophy of Feminism, that can apply for either humanities or alternative voices.