Philosophy (Major, Minor)

Philosophy Department

Maeve O'Donovan, Ph.D., Chair
Desirée Melton, Ph.D.
Nancy Tarr-Hart, Ph.D.

Degrees offered



Main Campus

The Philosophy Department of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business offers a Major and Minor in Philosophy to students in the Women's College, and a Minor to students in the College of Adult Undergraduate Studies.


Women's College and College of Adult Undergraduate Studies

Philosophy, the oldest of the liberal arts, rests on Socrates' views that "all philosophy begins in wonder" and "the unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates promoted the practical uses of philosophy in everyday life and encouraged dialogue and vigorous debate as the most effective ways of discerning truth. In this Socratic spirit, the Philosophy Department seeks to assist the student in acquiring a fundamental and realistic understanding of herself and her world, to acquaint the student with the thinking of philosophers whose ideas have most influenced the development of our culture, and to engender in the student those habits of critical and systematic thinking that are necessary for a coherent view of the world. The Philosophy Department Program of Study pays special attention to issues of social justice and diversity, providing courses in critical race theory, feminist philosophy, Islamic philosophy, and philosophy of disability.

Students with strong backgrounds in philosophy have chosen to attend graduate schools, including the Yale School of Divinity, American University, University of Chicago, University of Maryland School of Law, University of Maryland School of Dentistry, State University of New York at Binghamton, and University of Oklahoma. Others have accepted positions in the fields of education, business, law, politics and medicine.

Notre Dame's General Education Requirements include two courses in Philosophy, one at the introductory 200-level and one at the 300-or 400-level.

To fulfill the General Education Requirement in Values, a student may take PHL-322, 330, 334, 336, 339 or 471. PHL-323 fulfills the General Education Requirement in Gender Studies.

Philosophy courses are also offered in the university’s graduate programs. 

Students must earn of minimum cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 in all courses taken to complete the requirements of the Philosophy Major.

Program of Study

Required Courses for the Major in Philosophy (Credits)

The major consists of a total of 33 credits to include:

       One introductory course (3)

       IDS-172 Honors: The Axial Age: Philosophy of East and West
       PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy

       One course in religion and human nature (3)

       PHL-302 Philosophy of Human Nature
       PHL-305 Philosophy of Religion
       PHL-306 Problem of Evil
       IDS-479 Honors: Philosophy through Literature

       One course in metaphysics and epistemology (3)

       PHL-321 Epistemology
       PHL-374 Metaphysics
       PHL-310 Logic
       PHL-301 Honors: The Mind-Body Problem

       One course in ethics (3)

       PHL-330 Ethics
       PHL-334 Business Ethics
       PHL-336 Environmental Ethics
       PHL-339 Medical Ethics
       PHL-471 Honors: Morals and Mortality: Ethics of Exiting

       One course in value theory (3)

       PHL-322 Social & Political Philosophy
       PHL-324 Critical Theories of Race
       PHL-323 Feminist Philosophy
       PHL-320 Aesthetics

       One course from the historical sequence (3)

       PHL-312 History of Western Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
       PHL-313 History of Western Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
       PHL-376H: Honors: Human Flourishinh: Ancient Perspectives, Contemporary Interpretations

       One seminar (3)
       PHL-422 Major Themes in Philosophy
       PHL-424 Major Figures in Philosophy

       Three electives at the 300- or 400-level (3)
       PHL-411 Senior Thesis (3)

Minor in Philosophy

The Philosophy Department also offers a Minor in Philosophy that consists of 18 credit hours of course work in Philosophy. Courses for the Minor are chosen by the student and should be selected in consultation with a faculty member in the Philosophy Department.

Philosophy Four-Year Plan

Below is a sample Program of Study for the Philosophy Major. Students should select courses with the assistance of a faculty advisor.

Fall Spring 
First year      
ENG-101 College Writing 3 Foreign Language 3
IDS-100 Perspectives in Education 3 History 3
COM-101  4 Mathematics 3
PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy 3 Social Science 3
Physical Educa PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy 3
 [15 credits]   [15 credits]  
Second year      
PHL Historical sequence course 3 PHL Ethics course 3
Fine Arts 3 PHL 300/400-level elective 3
RST-201 Introduction to Biblical Studies 3 Religious Studies (300/400 level) 3
COM-106 Fundamentals of Oral Communication 3 English Literature 3
General Education/Electives 3 General Education/Electives 3
Physical Education 1 [15 credits]  
[16 credits]      
Third year      
PHL Religion and Human nature course 3 PHL Metaphysics and Epistemology course 3
PHL Historical sequence course 3 PHL Seminar course 3
General Education/Electives 9 General Education/Electives 9
[15 credits]   [15 credits]  
Fourth year      
PHL Value theory course 3 PHL 300/400 level elective 3
PHL 411 Senior Thesis 3 General Education/Electives 12
General Education/Electives 9 [15 credits]  
[15 credits]