Major in Philosophy
Every major in Philosophy at Notre Dame begins with a common foundation of three classes and then picks his or her own intellectual path, choosing each semester from the wide range of small, discussion-based seminars offered on topics ranging from ethics to the philosophy of science to feminism to the history of philosophy.
The major is organized around a core of three classes which all of our majors take:
- Ancient & Medieval Philosophy
- Modern Philosophy
- Formal Logic
These courses, which are taught every semester, give students a grounding in the history of philosophy and give them the logical tools needed to think about and assess philosophical arguments.
Beyond this core, the major consists of five other seminars, which each student can choose based on his or her interests. These upper-level courses are all taught by faculty members and are rarely larger than 10 or 12 students. As a result, each of our majors has multiple chances to work closely with members of the faculty. Because of the size of Notre Dame's department, we are able to offer an unusually broad range of classes every semester. To give you a sense of the courses we offer, you can find this semester's course offerings. Some students take a broad range of courses; others focus their seminar choices on a particular area of interest. That is up to you.
Students who are pursuing either a regular philosophy major, or the major with a concentration in philosophy, science, and mathematics, may also elect to pursue the Honors Track. Honors philosophy majors complete all the requirements for the regular major and in addition write a senior thesis. The senior thesis is a year-long project written under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Students writing the senior thesis enroll in PHIL 48499 Senior Thesis in both semesters of the senior year (the equivalent of two regular 3-hour seminars). To be eligible for the honors major, and thus for the senior thesis, a student must ordinarily maintain a GPA of 3.5 or above in courses in the major. Students considering the senior thesis are encouraged to have completed at least two of the three core courses (the two history surveys and formal logic) AND three 4xxxx-level seminars by the end of the junior year.
Other Ways to Major in Philosophy
The program just described is only one way to major in philosophy. Students especially interested in philosophical questions to do with science and mathematics may wish to look at the interdisciplinary major in Philosophy, Science, and Mathematics, while students especially interested in questions at the intersection of philosophy and theology may wish to look at the joint major.
Our majors are a cohesive intellectual community, with shared work space in Malloy Hall. If you're interested in joining us, or would like to hear more, send an email to our Director of Undergraduate Studies, Alex Jech, or book a time to meet and talk about your options in person.