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Philosophy (BA)


Degree Type
BA - Bachelor of Arts
Program Overview

The mission of the undergraduate program in Philosophy is to train students to think clearly and critically about the deepest and broadest questions concerning being, knowledge, and value, as well as their connections to the full range of human activities and interests. The Philosophy major presents students with paradigms and perspectives of past thinkers and introduces students to a variety of methods of reasoning and judgment formation. Courses in the major equip students with core skills involved in critical reading, analytical thinking, sound argumentation, and the clear, well-organized expression of ideas. Philosophy is an excellent major for those planning a career in law, medicine, business, or the non-profit sector. It provides analytical skills and a breadth of perspective helpful to those called upon to make decisions about their own conduct and the welfare of others. Philosophy majors who have carefully planned their undergraduate program have an excellent record of admission to professional and graduate schools.

There are three ways of majoring in Philosophy:

  • The General Program

    • The General program requires a minimum of 55 units.

    • No more than 10 units completed with grades of 'satisfactory' and/or 'credit' may be counted in the 55-unit requirement. 

    • Any courses taken for a letter grade in fulfillment of the core requirements must be taken for a minimum of 3 units and completed with a  grade of 'C-' or higher.

    • Units for Tutorial, Directed Reading (course Tutorial, Senior Year, course Individual Work, Undergraduate, course The Dualist), The Dualist (course The Dualist), Honors Seminar (course Seminar for Prospective Honors Students), or affiliated courses may not be counted in the 55-unit requirement.

  • The Special Program in the History and Philosophy of Science

    • Minimum 61 units

    • (See Subplans section for further details)

  • The Special Program in Philosophy and Literature

    • Minimum 65 units

    • (See Subplans section for further details)

A student completing any of these programs receives a B.A. degree in Philosophy. There is also a major program offered in Philosophy and Religious Studies. To declare a major, a student should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Study and see the Undergraduate Student Services Administrator to be assigned an adviser and work out a coherent plan. The department recommends proficiency in at least one foreign language.

Program Learning Outcomes

The department expects undergraduate majors in the program to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the department's undergraduate program. Students are expected to demonstrate:

  1. the ability to effectively communicate philosophical ideas orally and in writing.

  2. close reading, argument evaluation, and analytical writing.

  3. dialectical ability to identify strengths and weaknesses of an argument and devise appropriate and telling responses.

  4. the ability to think critically and demonstrate clarity of conceptualization.

  5. the ability to differentiate good from unpromising philosophical questions.

  6. the ability to sustain an argument of substantial scope, showing control over logical, argumentative, and evidential relations among its parts.

  7. mastery over a domain of literature, an area of philosophical problems, or an area in the history of thought.

  8. an understanding of argumentative relations among different philosophical issues in their area, and an ability to discriminate between problems that must be addressed, and those that may be deferred to future work.

  9. the ability to frame and pursue more deeply a philosophical question within the domain.

  10. the ability to develop, articulate, and defend a thesis about the question.

  11. knowledge and awareness of plausible objections to their arguments, and resourcefulness in responding to them.

External Credit Policies

A maximum of 10 transfer units or two courses can be used for the departmental major. In general, transfer courses cannot be used to satisfy the six area requirements or the undergraduate seminar requirement. Students may not substitute transfer units for the PHIL 80 requirement.

Degree Requirements