Philosophy (Major, Minor)

Philosophy Department

Pamela O'Brien, Dean, School of Arts, Sciences and Business
Jessica Davis, Ph.D., Chair
Jina Fast, 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 students in acquiring a fundamental and realistic understanding of self and world; acquaint students with the thinking of philosophers whose ideas have most influenced the development of our culture; and, engender in students those habits of critical and systematic thinking necessary for a coherent and ethical perspective on the world, while also nurturing their passion for social justice and equity.

Philosophical study prepares students for success in a variety of fields in academia as well as in the private and public sectors through developing and honing skills of clear and analytical thinking, problem-solving, and effective reasoning. Some program majors and minors have attended graduate schools, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 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 Wales Trinity Saint David. Others have accepted positions in the fields of education, business, law, politics, and medicine.

Home to NDMU's Ethics Bowl Team and the Phi Sigma Tau chapter of the national philosophy honor society for students who meet the membership requirements, the Department requires a senior thesis as a capstone project for its majors. Under the advisement of a faculty member, the student chooses a philosophical subject of interest to explore in greater depth while demonstrating the skills learned over the four-year course of study. Students must earn a minimum cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 in all courses taken to complete the requirements of the Philosophy Major.

The following Empower and Engage General Education requirements may be met by the Philosophy courses listed:
Thinking Critically and Analytically: PHL-201
Pursuing Meaning, Purpose and Well Being: PHL-220, PHL-316, PHL-339
Understanding and Valuing Diverse Identities and Perspectives: PHL-230, PHL-324
Becoming an Engaged Citizen: PHL-210

Program of Study

Required Courses for the Major in Philosophy (Credits)

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

       Introductory course (3)

       PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy (3)

       One course in religion and human nature (3)

       PHL-302 Philosophy of Human Nature (3)
       PHL-305 Philosophy of Religion (3)
       PHL-306 Problem of Evil (3)
       IDS-479 Honors: Philosophy through Literature (3) 
       One course in metaphysics and epistemology (3)
       PHL-310 Logic (3)
       PHL-316 Philosophy of Education (3)
       PHL-321 Epistemology: Knowledge & Ignorance (3)


       One course in ethics (3)

       PHL-330 Ethics (3)
       PHL-334 Business Ethics (3)
       PHL-336 Environmental Ethics (3)
       PHL-339 Medical Ethics (3)

       One course in social philosophy (3)

       PHL-315 Philosophy of Sexuality (3)
       PHL-322 Social & Political Philosophy (3)
       PHL-323 Feminist Philosophy (3)
       PHL-324 Philosophy of Race (3)


      One course from the historical sequence (3)

       PHL-312   History of Western Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (3)
       PHL-313   History of Western Modern and Contemporary Philosophy (3)
       PHL-376H Honors: Human Flourishing: Ancient Perspectives, Contemporary Interpretations (3)

       One seminar (3)

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

       One thesis (3)

       PHL-411 Senior Thesis (3)

       Electives (9) three electives, at least two of which must be the 300/400 level. One of these elective courses may be satisfied by:

       PHL-210 Ethics Bowl: Foundations and Practice (3)
       PHL-230 Gender, Self-Representation, and Popular Culture (3)
       PHL-XXX Extraordinary Bodies and Minds: Philosophical Perspectives on Disability (3)
       PHL-463 Independent Study (3)
       PHL-465 Directed Readings (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
NDMU-100 First Year Seminar 3 History 3
COM-106 Fundamentals of Oral Com 3 Mathematics 3
General Education/Electives 6 Social Science 3
 [15 credits]   PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy 3
  [15 credits]  
Second year      
PHL Historical Sequence course 3 PHL Meaning & Purpose General Education 3
Fine Arts 3 Natural Science 4
Religious Studies 3 PHL Social Philosophy course 3
PHL Ethics course 3 English Literature 3
General Education/Electives 4 General Education/Electives 3
[16 credits] [16 credits]  
Third year      
PHL Religion and Human Nature course 3 PHL Metaphysics and Epistemology course  3
PHL 300/400 Elective 3 PHL Seminar course 3
General Education/Electives 9 General Education/Electives 9
[15 credits]   [15 credits]  
Fourth year      
PHL 300/400 Elective 3 PHL 300/400 elective 3
PHL 411 Senior Thesis 3 General Education/Electives 9
General Education/Electives 9 Physical Education/Wellness
[15 credits]    [13 credits]