The University Requirement for Philosophy

Notre Dame has always thought that an excellent education means taking some time to pause and ask the 'big questions.' What is happiness? What kind of knowledge are we capable of? What is a person? Is there a god? These questions tie together many of the other more specialized disciplines you’ll pursue here. More than that: we believe that carefully thinking through them is an important part of pursuing a good life. That’s why every student at Notre Dame takes an introductory philosophy course as part of the core curriculum, and part of why Notre Dame's charter describes it as "sustained by a devotion to the twin disciplines of theology and philosophy."

Questions like these are hard. To get at their answers you need to learn logic, you’ll need help from some great minds of the past, and you’ll need the chance to test your arguments in class debate.  You’ll develop skills in your philosophy course which we hope will translate to many of your other pursuits.

There are lots of options for your first philosophy course. 'God and the Good Life' is a large class featuring in-class debates; Philosophy University Seminars are small (18 students or less) discussion-based courses. Some classes, like our general 'Introduction to Philosophy,' survey the whole field of philosophy; others allow students to focus in on the connections between philosophy and other topics in the which they are interested (like science, religion, mathematics, or ethics and politics). A list of first philosophy courses is listed on our site.

After your first philosophy course you face a choice. One option is to take a second course in our department -- one that dives deeper into a topic that interests you. Examples include medical ethics, the philosophy of the early moderns, philosophy of science, or even philosophy as a way of life. Or you can decide to take a Catholicism and the Disciplines course in any number of Notre Dame departments. For more information on second courses in philosophy, click here.

1st Courses in Philosophy   2nd Courses in Philosophy