The Major in Philosophy

Image of G. E. M. Anscombe for the Major in Philosophy page

Undergraduate Philosophy majors acquire a number of specialized forms of expertise designed to enable them to engage in a sustained fashion with the central issues in contemporary academic philosophy, as well as with the historical tradition by which it is still informed. Not only do our undergraduate majors acquire the ability to grapple with and master the views and arguments set forth in difficult philosophical texts, but they also learn how to probe such philosophical views and arguments through the deployment of constructive objections to them. Most important, they develop and defend their own views on important philosophical topics, and do so both in writing and in oral discussion with other students and with instructors.

The exact size of the undergraduate program varies from year to year. Usually there are about 150-200 majors, with an additional 10-30 minoring in Philosophy. The cohort of majors includes around 10 students in the special Philosophy and Allied Fields interdisciplinary track. Around 40 of our majors tend to be in the intensive track; around 10-20 seniors are usually admitted into the Department of Philosophy's Senior Essay Honors Track. Most complete their senior essays and graduate with honors. A few of these majors graduate with special honors—10%-15% of all majors—this is the highest distinction our department confers on graduating seniors.

Upon graduation, our philosophy majors have gone on to do many things. The single most popular choice among graduating seniors about what to do next after college is to go into the workplace. Many of our graduates successfully land positions in a variety of careers—from programming to consulting to secondary school teaching to work at non-profits. But many students apply to law schools. Our graduates have enjoyed a consistently excellent acceptance rate at the top programs in law throughout the country. And a number of our graduating seniors is to go on to graduate school in Philosophy. We also have a very strong record sending students to major MA and PhD programs in both Philosophy and other fields. For more details on career outcomes for majors, see the Life After College pages on this website.