Philosophy seeks answers to such fundamental questions as: What is ultimately real? What is the nature and extent of our knowledge? What is the source and nature of our moral obligations? What form of government is the best? Is beauty only in the eye of the beholder? Our aim is to assist students (1) in developing an appreciation of the various answers to these questions and (2) in formulating their own answers in a way that can be defended in the arena of reasoned controversy. Philosophy draws on material from all areas of human endeavor -- science, the arts, religion, politics. Many of our students are double majors because they find that the study of philosophy and the study of the particular discipline (such as psychology or biology) are mutually enhancing.

The Major

The major consists of eleven courses of at least three (3) credits each and at least six (6) courses at the 300 and 400 level.  Every student takes a total of six courses in the core areas of philosophy including one in logic, two in the history of philosophy, one in ethics or political philosophy, and two in either the theory of knowledge, metaphysics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind/psychology, or philosophy of language. There is a wide area of choice both within those six core area courses and among the five additional electives. Students are able to explore in depth the issues that are most interesting to them.  No more than three courses can be transferred towards the major, and not more than one D grade can be applied toward the major.

Download the Philosophy Major Booklet.


Students with advising questions concerning courses to take, progress towards the major or minor, transfer credit requests, career options with a philosophy degree, and so on can email the department's Undergraduate Advisors.

Departmental Honors

Further details about the Honors Thesis can be found here.

The Minor

A minor in philosophy consists of six courses of at least 3 credits, at least three of which must be at the 300 or 400 level.  No more than two courses can be transferred towards the minor, and not more than one D grade can be applied toward the minor.

Learning Goals

Learning goals for philosophy students (majors, minors, non-majors/minors)

How the Philosophy curriculum advances these learning goals:

All philosophy programs (undergraduate and graduate) aim to:

(1) develop in students the critical skills necessary for evaluating ideas and arguments

(2) develop the ability to construct coherent arguments in support of one’s views

(3) develop the ability to present accurately and fairly views that differ from one’s own

(4) develop the ability to write clearly and in an organized manner.

All philosophy courses expose students to the philosophical method, with the aim of developing in them the ability to apply the method in their own thinking about intellectual problems.  All non-logic courses require at least one piece of analytical writing.


Additional learning goal for philosophy minors:

(5) To develop a grasp of philosophical issues in a range of intellectual domains

The minor in philosophy requires six 3-credit courses.  This will expose students to a variety of philosophical issues in a range of intellectual domains.

Additional learning goals for philosophy majors:

(6) to develop an appreciation of fundamental questions concerning reality, knowledge, and value, and the analytical resources necessary to engage these questions.

(7) to develop an understanding of historical and contemporary attempts to answer these questions

The major in philosophy requires courses from the core areas of history of philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, value theory, and the philosophies of mind, language, and science.  Fundamental issues concerning reality, knowledge, and value will be amply covered in this core.

(8) to develop a competence in formal reasoning techniques.

The major in philosophy requires a course in formal logic.

(9) to provide a broad-based foundation for graduate study in philosophy and for professional disciplines such as law, medicine, business, and government

The major in philosophy requires six 3-credit courses in the core areas of philosophy.  Graduating majors will have studied the central issues and important historical figures in the field, equipping them well for further study of philosophy at the graduate level.  The major requires five additional 3-credit electives, for a total of 33 credit hours, providing students with extensive opportunity to acquire the analytical, critical, and interpretive skills necessary for success in the professional disciplines.

Relevance of the Philosophy Department’s goals to the learning goals of the SAS and Rutgers University:

The Philosophy Department’s goals cohere very closely with the University’s goals concerning the development of critical thinking and oral and written communication skills, as well as the ability to recognize ethical questions, and to make reasoned judgments about answers to these questions.