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Major, Minor, and Applied Ethics Certificate

The philosophy department views as equally important its two undergraduate functions: providing in-depth training in philosophy to those who elect our discipline as a major or minor, and providing high-quality instruction to those who take our courses as electives or to fulfill University requirements. Our courses introduce students to some of the most interesting ideas ever thought, and increase competence in a number of skills essential to both academic and professional success: analytical, critical, and creative reasoning, along with the ability to clearly communicate complex ideas. Note that because a major in philosophy is not weighted down with requirements, it can be undertaken with another major without much increase in total credit load. In fact, many of our majors are double majors.

Applied Ethics Certificate (AEC)

For both philosophy majors or minors, and students involved in a STEM or pre-professional program that leaves them too little time to pursue a minor or second major, the philosophy department offers an Applied Ethics Certificate. This 12-credit program teaches students how to apply philosophical reasoning and ethical principles to issues that arise in many different fields of work and walks of life, including computer/data science, the health sciences, the environment, business, sexuality, and problems that may arise in any diverse society. Students who earn this certificate may appeal to employers looking to hire college graduates that have been educated not only in some technical/professional field, but have also thought deeply about the ethical issues that may arise in such fields (and beyond).

How Do I Declare a Philosophy Major/Minor/AEC?

To become a philosophy major or minor, or to pursue an Applied Ethics Certificate, first fill out this form and then take it to the front desk of the University Advising Resource Center (UARC) office. You should then contact the department Chair for advising.


Requirements for the Major (as of Fall 2014)

For students who declared their major Fall 2014 or thereafter, the philosophy major consists of 34 credits.

Required (13 credits)

PHIL 101: Elementary Logic or PHIL 202: Symbolic Logic

PHIL 104/105/106: Ethics or Honors Ethics

PHIL 301: History of Ancient Western Philosophy

PHIL 305: History of Modern Western Philosophy

PHIL 475: Philosophy Capstone. In this course, with the aid of a Capstone advisor assigned by the Philosophy Department, you will develop important research skills by revising and expanding a paper that you have already written for a previous philosophy course. The skills to be developed include the ability to search philosophy databases for journal articles related to your topic; to select the most relevant of those articles based on their abstracts; to expand previously written work using the selected material; and finally to revise, edit, and polish your philosophical writing. The end result will be a 10-15 page research paper of a quality sufficient to provide the basis of a writing sample for graduate school applications. Prerequisite: At least 27 prior philosophy credits, or consent of instructor.

Electives (21 credits)

Seven courses consisting of at least one course from Category A (courses in metaphysics & epistemology), at least one course from Category B (courses in value theory), and the remainder from either list, or from any other course offered by the department.

Category A

PHIL 306: Philosophy of Emotion

PHIL 309: Contemporary Philosophy

PHIL 315: Philosophy of Science

PHIL 316: Introduction to Cognitive Science

PHIL 319: Theory of Knowledge

PHIL 320: Metaphysics

PHIL 322: Philosophy of Language

PHIL 327: Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 331: American Philosophy

Category B

PHIL 205: Ethical Issues in a Diverse Society

PHIL 215: Philosophy of Art

PHIL 220: Business and Ethics

PHIL 225: Philosophy of Love

PHIL 230: Environmental Ethics

PHIL 231: Biomedical Ethics (formerly Phil 311: Bioethics)

PHIL 325: Social and Political Philosophy

PHIL 329: Contemporary Ethical Problems

PHIL 345: Philosophy of Law

Other Elective Courses

PHIL 109: Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 110: Honors: Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 202: Symbolic Logic

PHIL 207: Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 210: Ethics and Community

PHIL 211: Philosophy in India

PHIL 226: Philosophy in Literature

PHIL 303 Topics in the History of Philosophy

PHIL 312: Existentialism

PHIL 335: Philosophy of Sex

PHIL 340: Climate Justice (GS)

PHIL 350: Computing Ethics

PHIL 426: Selected Topics in Philosophy

PHIL 446: Independent Study

PHIL 456: Related Readings


Requirements for the Minor (as of Fall 2014)

21 Credits in Philosophy

Required (9 credits)

PHIL 101: Elementary Logic or PHIL 202: Symbolic Logic

 PHIL 105: Ethics or PHIL 106: Honors Ethics

PHIL 301: History of Ancient Philosophy or PHIL 305: History of Modern Philosophy or PHIL 303: Topics in the History of Philosophy.


Electives (12 credits)

Four courses consisting of at least one course from Category A (courses in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind), at least one course from Category B (courses in value theory), and the remainder from either list, or from any other course offered by the department.


Requirements for the Applied Ethics Certificate

12 credits in Philosophy

Required (3 Credits)

The following two courses are required-

  • Philosophy 105/106 Ethics (Quest, XC, or Honors version).
  • Philosophy 485 Applied Ethics Capstone Reflection Essay- In this 0-credit, pass/fail, independent study course, you will write a “reflection essay” that summarizes, compares, and analyzes what you have learned about ethical reasoning and its applications in the three (or more) practical domains you have studied.

Electives (9 Credits)

To complete the Applied Ethics Certificate, you must take at least three of the following six elective courses-

  • PHIL 205/206 Ethical Issues in a Diverse Society (XC) (206 is the Honors version of the course).
  • PHIL 220 Business and Ethics (XC).
  • PHIL 230 Environmental Ethics (XC).
  • PHIL 231 Biomedical Ethics (XC).
  • PHIL 335 Philosophy of Sex.
  • PHIL 350 Computing Ethics.