The Philosophy curriculum provides the opportunity to study a wide range of philosophical issues from a diverse array of philosophical traditions, methodologies and perspectives. Our courses develop students’ skills in critical thinking, analysis, clear writing, and sustained reflection on important philosophical problems, both contemporary and perennial, concerned with ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, language, logic, the natural and social sciences, politics, aesthetics, and religion. Students engage important portions of their intellectual heritage through the writings of influential philosophers of the past and present, and acquire a sense of the influence of these figures on the broader society and culture. Students learn, equally importantly, to challenge these writings, to look for hidden assumptions and presuppositions, including those they themselves hold, and they learn how to critically scrutinize and evaluate competing positions, arguments, and perspectives. Thus, students acquire both disciplinary knowledge and philosophical skills needed to understand and address the global challenges facing humanity, now and in the future.
Read about some of the practical benefits of a degree in philosophy.
Philosophy students may participate in the CLA Honors Program and the University Honors Program. Many study abroad. Philosophy majors and minors can attend the Philosophy Colloquium series. The Philosophy Society provides a nice place to discuss philosophy outside of class. The department is pleased to administer the annual Eric L. Clitheroe Scholarship, the Rowe Scholarship, and the CLA Alumni Board’s Outstanding Senior Award.
Philosophy majors go on to successful careers in law, education, medicine, publishing, business, marketing, management, government service, computer science, and the clergy, for example. Philosophy is quite suitable as a major for pre-professional students, and it may well be an ideal major for those who plan to enter law school. (See links included in the Plan of Study section, below.) Pursuing graduate studies in philosophy and becoming a philosophy professor is not a likely path for most, since the number of such positions is quite limited; nonetheless, some of our majors elect this course, with our support. Virtually every employer values the skills that are cultivated in philosophy courses: articulateness, clarity of expression, logical rigor and analysis, critical reflection, and argumentation. In many careers, philosophical knowledge and understanding are valuable assets, especially for those in leadership positions. Perhaps this is why recent studies show that, on average, those with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy “advance” more quickly within their careers than those of any other major.
We are proud of our many accomplished alumni, including recent CLA Distinguished Alumni Award Winners Tom Scholl (hi-tech venture capitalist, Philosophy BA 1970) Prof. Dorothy Leland (philosopher and university president, Philosophy PhD 1978) and Ambassador Donald Mahley (arms control negotiator, Philosophy BA 1964).
The Educational Testing Service consistently reports that those intending to study philosophy have the highest mean scores on both the verbal and analytical writing sections of the GRE, of all of the 57 areas of study listed.
On the LSAT, the mean score of philosophy majors is tied for first (with economics majors) amongst the 12 largest majors taking the test, and the average of philosophy & religion majors is consistently second only to majors in physics & math, out of 29 areas of study.
Philosophy applicants consistently have had one of the best rates of acceptance to medical school, better than majors in physics, mathematics, chemistry, or biology.
On the GMAT, the mean score of philosophy majors is consistently among the top-five or six majors (e.g., Physics, Math, Engineering, Computer Science) out of 41 areas of study.
Plan of Study
At Purdue, a major in Philosophy requires a total of 33 credit hours (eleven courses), including an introductory course either in ethics or in philosophy generally, a logic course, three courses in the history of philosophy, a course in value theory (either social philosophy or ethics), two advanced courses in a central area of philosophy (one of which must be either metaphysics or epistemology), and three other courses of the student’s choice, two of which must be at the 400 or 500 level. These requirements provide choices among, for example, aesthetics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, existentialism, social and political philosophy, and various courses in applied and theoretical ethics.
A Philosophy minor requires a total of 15 credit hours (five courses) in philosophy, including one course in the history of philosophy (ancient, medieval, or early modern) and at least one other intermediate or advanced course.
Because of the flexibility in major and minor requirements, many students tailor their elective choices to concentrate their expertise or complement their studies in areas such as law, medicine, history, literature, science, mathematics, engineering, religion, business, or politics and government. A philosophy major or minor can be a valuable part of most types of pre-professional training.
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Students interested in graduate studies in philosophy are encouraged to consult with their advisor and philosophy faculty and graduate students.