Major in Philosophy

Students study.

A major in philosophy enables students to gain a fuller understanding of the range of subjects included in philosophy. It also permits students to concentrate on subjects and problems which they find most interesting. The undergraduate major is a good preparation for graduate study in philosophy. It is also helpful in preparing for a variety of other careers, including professional careers like law.

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About the Major Program of Study

The student who majors in philosophy is encouraged to take a variety of courses in subjects outside philosophy. An ideal program would include courses in all disciplines in keeping with the universality of interest and application of philosophy. But specialization of interest is possible and students may emphasize any one of three types of background: (1) Natural Sciences and Mathematics; (2) Social Sciences; (3) Languages, Literature and the Arts.

Philosophy majors take courses with at least four members of the Department in order to gain the advantage of different points of view. In the junior-senior program, the student learns to interpret classical philosophical texts, deals with current philosophical problems, uses the relevant literature, and ventures individual solutions. Emphasis is placed on the writing of original papers and on oral discussion. Some tutorials are offered.

Students must take the required courses for a letter grade. It is recommended that other philosophy courses be taken on the same basis. A course in English composition is often advisable for students who have difficulty writing essays.

Required Courses
In addition to the requirements of the UB Division of Undergraduate Studies, the Departmental course requirements are:

  • Ethics
    One of: PHI 335 Contemporary Ethical Theory; PHI 336 History of Ethics; PHI 338 Law and Morality; PHI 340 Law and Responsibility; PHI 341 Social Philosophy; PHI 342 Political Philosophy; or, PHI 345 Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art.

  • Logic
    One of: PHI 115 Critical Reasoning, PHI 185 Model-Based Reasoning, or PHI 215 Symbolic Logic.

  • Metaphysics and Epistemology
    One of: PHI 329 Metaphysics; PHI 333 Epistemology; PHI 320 Philosophy of Mind; PHI 321 Philosophy of Science; or, PHI 328 Philosophy of Language.

  • History of Philosophy
    Two of:  PHI 376 Buddhist Philosophy; PHI 360 Ancient Philosophy; PHI 366 Medieval Philosophy; PHI 370 Early Modern Philosophy; PHI 380 Nineteenth-Century Philosophy-Kant to Nietzsche; or, PHI 388 Twentieth-Century Philosophy.

  • Philosophy electives
    Six additional courses, of which four must be at the 300/400 level.

Note: UB Seminar courses cannot count towards major requirements.

Double or Joint Major in Philosophy

A student may major in philosophy alone, or may combine philosophy and some other field in a double or a joint major. A double major must satisfy the major requirements of two departments. For a joint major, the normal requirements for majors are relaxed by each of the two departments. Which requirements are waived varies from one student to another.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted as a philosophy major, a student must have at least a 2.0 grade-point average.

How to Apply

To sign-up for the philosophy major, the double/joint major, or the minor program please visit Undergraduate Admissions.

Questions? Contact Prof. Ryan Muldoon, Director of Undergraduate Studies, via email,