The Philosophy Program

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy literally means the love of wisdom. To love wisdom is to take seriously your most profound questions, to refuse to accept blindly the appearances of things and to reflect on the standards offered to you by the surrounding culture.

A major in philosophy teaches you to read, think, and converse at the highest and deepest levels. It liberates you from being intimidated by difficult ideas. It also puts you into contact with some of the greatest minds of our own and other cultures, while also promoting your capacity to discover new thinkers and ideas beyond the classroom.

Saint Vincent College allows you to major in philosophy with flexible concentration options. We welcome students interested in a philosophy minor. But we also encourage you just to take a few of our courses and see what we have to contribute to the liberation that ought to be at the heart of your liberal arts education.

What Can I Do With a Major in Philosophy?

Philosophical training develops skills of thinking, reading and writing well, which will be of tremendous value in seeking jobs in a wide range of fields including business, education and politics. Some of our majors do pursue graduate study in philosophy, but this is not the only possibility.

Philosophy majors do very well in applying to law school and medical school. They consistently earn some of the highest scores on graduate school entrance exams.

The study of philosophy expands your career options.


Graduates with a philosophy degree have a sound historical knowledge of the field and are able to critically engage the world with solid analytic abilities and imaginative, synthetic solutions to problems which present themselves. They are prepared to offer both abstract analyses as well as concrete proposals. They are independent learners and prepared to begin graduate studies in the humanities, social sciences or law. 

Requirements for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy

Requirements for the Major: (33 credits)
33 credits in Philosophy, structured in the following way*
(These are in addition to the Core requirement of 1st Philosophy PL 101):
PL 120 Logic - 3 credits 
PL 201 Ancient Philosophy - 3 credits
PL 202 Medieval  Philosophy - 3 credits
PL 203 Modern Philosophy - 3 credits
PL 204 Kant and His Successors - 3 credits or
     PL 206 19th and 20th Century Philosophy - 3 credits
PL 215 Ethics - 3 credits
PL 440 Senior Capstone Exam or
     PL 450  Senior Thesis - 3 credits
Four courses chosen in consultation with the student's adviser from the course offerings of the Philosophy Department. - 12 credits

Typically, this would include PL 220 Theories of Knowledge and PL 230 Metaphysics. Students would also generally choose at least two courses from the following: PL 210 Philosophical Anthropology, PL 280 Thomistic Philosophy, PL 235 Philosophy of God and PL 245 Philosophy of Science. Students wishing to extend their study of ethics are encouraged to enroll in PL 216 Ethical Problems, PL 217 Environmental Ethics or PL 218 Bioethics.

*Those applying for graduate studies in philosophy are also required to complete PL 250 Symbolic Logic.  All other majors are strongly encouraged to complete this course. 

Electives: An appropriate choice of electives in fields outside of philosophy can add considerable focus to the study of philosophy. For this reason the Department requires the choice of electives to be done in close consultation with the student's adviser. Language studies and accompanying foreign study are especially encouraged.

Semester Reviewphilosophy-semester-review
Semester Review

Having chosen to pursue a degree in philosophy, each student will meet with his or her adviser to review the work of the previous semester.  This is generally done each January for the previous fall semester and in September for the previous spring semester.                                                      

As a part of this review, students will evaluate their own performance in a guided, written statement. This statement functions primarily as a resume of work in the major, but extra-departmental work may also be assessed. During the review, students present two pieces of written work from the previous semester, at least one of which will be from a philosophy course (provided that the student had taken a course in the field the previous semester).

Senior Capstone Projectphilosophy-senior-capstone
Senior Capstone Project

Each philosophy major is required to complete a Senior Capstone Project during their junior or senior year at the college. There are two options for the project: a senior thesis or a senior capstone examination. The student and their faculty adviser will decide which of these two options are appropriate based on each student's aims, interests and plans after graduation.

Students work with their faculty advisers to form a Senior Thesis or Examination Committee and choose a topic for the project. The student, with the guidance of the committee, plans the project and carries out the basic research.   

Students who choose the capstone exam will take the exam at the end of the semester in which they are enrolled in PL 440 Senior Capstone Exam. A passing grade completes this project; a failing grade requires the student to retake the course and the exam the following semester.

Students who choose the senior thesis will complete a polished draft of the thesis, to be submitted to the Committee for comments, during the semester in which they are enrolled in PL 450 Senior Thesis. The Thesis Committee evaluates the finished Senior Thesis. By the last week of classes before graduation, each student will give an oral presentation of the project to departmental faculty and students, responding to questions and comments.

Internships and Careers

Students who complete the Philosophy program may be employed or continue their education as:

  • Teachers
  • Researchers
  • Academic Affairs specialists
  • Paralegals
  • Government workers
  • Clergy and religious leaders
  • Administrators/managers
  • Technical writers and editors
  • Graduate school students
  • Student Learning Outcomes

    The Philosophy Department helps its students achieve the following goals:

    • Explain, accurately and charitably, significant philosophical ideas and arguments of particular ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary philosophers.
    • Use logic and critical reasoning to analyze arguments, and evaluate positions that they encounter outside of the classroom.
    • Explain ethical theories and apply them to problems of ethical significance.
    • Integrate philosophical ideas from diverse sources, including other disciplines and their own experience, into original philosophical work.
    • Complete independent philosophical scholarship and present this work in writing and in oral presentation.