Philosophy Major

The major in Philosophy emphasizes an analytic approach to philosophical questions, which trains students to understand and evaluate arguments and to think and write precisely and clearly.

The study of philosophy is a fundamental component of a modern liberal arts education. The insights and analytical expertise that students gain through the Department of Philosophy undergraduate curriculum are of immense value in a variety of careers.

Three options within the major

The Department of Philosophy offers its majors a choice among three options:

  • The General Emphasis provides a broad view of the field of philosophy. It includes a breadth requirement at the lower division level while providing students wide choice in more advanced courses.
  • The Pre-Law and Pre-Med Emphases include courses through which students gain philosophical perspective on law and medicine, respectively, a foundation that helps to prepare them for professional school.

Learning outcomes

Students graduating with a degree in philosophy should be able to:

  • Employ analytical techniques to construct arguments that proceed via trustworthy inferences from plausible starting points. Although emphasis is on philosophical arguments, the techniques apply to all areas of argumentation.
  • Supplement their informal reasoning with an ability to employ formal techniques.
  • Communicate complex and abstract ideas clearly, orally as well as in writing.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the motivations and problems for a wide variety of positions in historical and contemporary philosophy.

Major requirements

The course sequence for the Philosophy major encompasses 52 units.

The abbreviation "PHI" designates courses in the Department of Philosophy. 

Preparatory subject matter (16 units)

One course from any three of the following areas (12 units)

  • General Philosophy: PHI 1
  • Ancient Philosophy: PHI 21
  • Early Modern Philosophy: PHI 22
  • Philosophy of Mind: PHI 13
  • Ethics: PHI 14, 15 or 24
  • Philosophy of Science: PHI 30, 31, 32 or 38
  • Philosophy of Language: PHI 17
  • Metaphysics: PHI 101
  • Theory of Knowledge: PHI 102

PHI 12 (4 units) 

Depth Subject Matter (36 units)
Any 36 upper division units in philosophy
Note: PHI 101 and 102 may not be counted toward both preparatory and depth subject matter units.

Major emphases