Philosophy Major

Majoring in philosophy is a time-honored way of gaining a liberal arts education, i.e., an education fitting for a person who would be free. Philosophy majors at Saint Joseph’s University  will have an opportunity to read some of the most profound and challenging works ever written. In the classroom they will partake in lively discussions of life-changing ideas. Majors will develop their capacity to think clearly and creatively, to argue logically and express their thoughts persuasively, to criticize rationally and converse openly, to uncover assumptions and recognize implications and to raise those important questions that are often overlooked.

As a deliberately pluralistic department possessing expertise across a broad range of philosophical traditions and methods, we are able to offer courses across all major historical periods (i.e., ancient, medieval, modern, contemporary) and areas of field specialization (e.g., epistemology, metaphysics, language, religion, ethics, and social and political philosophy). Majors are challenged to grapple with perennial philosophical problems (e.g., free will, skepticism, objectivity, the nature and existence of God) and are introduced to methods of inquiry that allow for the development and appropriation of philosophical modes of thinking, speaking, and writing. An active Undergraduate Philosophy Society provides a forum for gathering with other students also genuinely interested in philosophy, and provides an excellent opportunity for student-faculty dialogue outside the classroom.

Goal 1: Students will understand arguments in philosophy

Outcome 1.1: Students will be able to assess and construct arguments in philosophy

Goal 2: Students will demonstrate knowledge of logic

Outcome 2.1: Students will be able to assess arguments by applying basic logical concepts, such as validity, soundness, strength, and cogency

Goal 3: Students will be able to assess arguments by applying basic logical concepts, such as validity, soundness, strength, and cogency

Outcome 3.1: Students will be able to critically evaluate some of the main ideas, problems, theories, or schools of thought from the main periods of Western philosophy

Goal 4: Students will learn the skills required for engaging in philosophy as a specialized academic discipline

Outcome 4.1: Students will write an advanced research paper or project that (1) analyzes a particular philosophical problem, area, or text; and (2) generates a specialized discussion of that problem, area, or text

The traditional undergraduate programs includes a minimum of 120 credits distributed across three components: A General Education component divided into Signature Courses, Variable Courses, and an Integrative Learning requirement; a Major and Divisional component; and Free Electives. In addition to course requirements as specified in each area, students must complete one certified course in each of the following overlay areas1:

  1. Diversity, Globalization or Non-western Area Studies,
  2. Ethics Intensive
  3. Writing Intensive, and
  4. Diversity

Overlay requirements are part of the 120 credit requirements

General Education Signature Courses

See this page about Signature courses

PHL 154Moral Foundations3
THE 154Catholic Theological Tradition3
ENG 102Texts & Contexts3
HIS 154Forging the Modern World3
XXX NNN: Faith and Reason Course Area (see course list)
XXX 150: First Year Seminar

General Education Variable Courses

See this page about Variable courses. Six to Nine courses

ENG 101Craft of Language3
THE NNN: Religious Difference
PHL NNN: Philosophical Anthropology (see list of courses)
MAT NNN: Mathematics - Beauty
Non-Native Language (0-2 courses)
Natural Science (One four-credit lab course or two three-credit non-lab courses)
Social/Behavioral Science
Fine Arts/Literature

General Education Overlays

See this page about Overlays.

  • Writing Intensive
  • Ethics Intensive
  • Diversity/Globalization/Non-Western

General Education Integrative Learning Component

See this page about Integrative Learning Component. Three courses:

Major Requirements

8 courses:

  1. Logic or Symbolic Logic
  2. History course: Ancient/Pre-Modern
  3. History course: Modern/Contemporary
  4. PHL elective course
  5. PHL elective course
  6. NON-GEP PHL elective
  7. PHL 495 Senior Seminar or PHL 395 Junior Seminar
  8. GEP Faith and Reason (if taken in Philosophy) or PHL elective Course

Philosophy majors have the option of pursuing one of five tracks:

  1. History of Philosophy;
  2. Social-Political/Philosophy of Law;
  3. Mind, Language, Science; 
  4. Philosophy of Religion; and .
  5. Arts and Humanities

Free Electives

14-18 courses

Philosophy majors have the option of pursuing one of five tracks. Major concentration requirements are the same for all five tracks, though the integrated learning requirements (ILC) will vary from track to track.

History of Philosophy Track

Select three of the following:9
The Glory that was Greece
Knowl & Love of God: Mid Ages
The Rise of the West: 400-1000
Reform/Rev in Europe 1500-1650
Greek, Latin, German, French (1 or more in the SAME language)

Social-Political/Philosophy of Law Track

Select three of the following:9
Any Economics course
Intro to American Politics
Intro to Comparative Politics
Intro to Global Politics
Intro to Political Thought
Political Ideology in America
Politics, Ideology, & Film
Constitutional Politics
Const Law:Rights & Civil Lib
Social Controv & Supreme Court
Injustice & the Law
Women and American Politics
Race & Ethnic Politics in U.S.
Protesting Inequality
U.S. Immigration
Political Geography
Haunted by the Past
Global Political Economy
Ethics inInternational Affairs
Sex & Power around the World
Capstone: Theories of Justice
Intro to Sociology
Social Problems
Ethnic & Minority Relations
Sociology of Gender
Classical Sociological Theory
Social Deviance
Race and Social Justice
Language and the Law
Urban Sociology
Miscarriages of Justice
Law and Social Policy
Restorative Justice
Race, Crime & CJ
Gender, Crime & CJ
Sociology of Law

Mind, Language, Science Track

Select three of the following:9
Any Mathematics course
Any Natural Science course
Any Computer Science course
Any Linguistics course
Sensation and Perception
Animal Learning and Memory
Drugs, the Brain, & Behavior
Psychology of Emotion
Comparative Animal Behavior
Psychology of the Self
Psychological Disorders

Arts and Humanities Track

Select three of the following:9
Honors Courses
Franco-Afro-Caribbean Story
Letters of Paul
Knowl & Love of God: Mid Ages
Special Topics in Theology
Art/Music/Film Courses
Music Fundamentals
Westrn Music Hist: MidAge-1750
Western Music Hist: 1750-Pres
Music Theory I
Major Composers
American Film
European Cinemas
Five Films
Non-Western World Cinemas
Major Figures in Film
Film Theory & Criticism
Any ART Studio Course
Literature (English Department)
Any ENG course 301-331
Literature (Modern Languages)
Selections in Chinese Lit
Any course in FRE literature/film 410-462
Any course in GRM literature/film 305-406
Selections in Japanese Lit I
Intro to Latin American Lit
Any course in SPA literature/film 410-456

Philosophy of Religion Track

One Theology/Religious Studies course beyond the GEP3
Select two of the following:6
The Crusades
The Grandeur that Was Rome
The Rise of the West: 400-1000
Reform/Rev in Europe 1500-1650
Religion & Philosophy: Africa
Cults as Social Movements
Latin or Greek (1 or more in the SAME language)