Undergraduate Students

A philosophy degree may be more useful than you think!


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. 

Undergraduate Opportunities 

Philosophy students may participate in 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. 

Career Opportunities 

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 27 credit hours (nine courses), including Principles of Logic; two 30000 level courses in the history of philosophy, at least one of which must be either the History of Ancient Philosophy or the History of Modern Philosophy; either Social and Political Philosophy or a 40000 level course in ethics; and three advanced courses in philosophy (40000 or 50000 level).  Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in philosophy should also take a third course in the history of philosophy and a course in metaphysics or epistemology.  Students interested in pursuing a law degree can satisfy these major requirements by completing the Philosophy, Law and Politics Path of Study.  Students interested in attending seminary or pursuing a graduate degree in Religious Studies can satisfy these major requirements by completing the Philosophy and Religious Thought Path of Study.  Students especially interested in philosophical thought about science can satisfy these major requirements by completing the Philosophy of Science Path of Study.

Major Requirements

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. 

Minor Requirements

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.

Visit Pre-Law Advising       

Visit Health Professions and Pre-Med Advising

Students interested in graduate studies in philosophy are encouraged to consult with their advisor and philosophy faculty and graduate students.

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