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Undergraduate Students

A philosophy degree may be more useful than you think!


The Department of Philosophy's curriculum provides the opportunity to study a wide range of philosophical issues from a diverse array of philosophical traditions, methodologies and perspectives. Our courses develop students’ skills in critical thinking, analysis, clear writing, and sustained reflection on important philosophical problems, both contemporary and perennial. These problems are addressed in courses which focus on ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, language, logic, the natural and social sciences, politics and religion - among other interesting and timely philosophical topics.

Students engage important aspects of their intellectual heritage by studying influential philosophers of the past and present. In the process, students both learn the history of philosophy and acquire a sense of the influence philosophers have had on society and culture. Equally importantly, students learn to challenge the texts they study, to look for hidden assumptions and presuppositions, including those they themselves hold. Students also learn how to critically evaluate competing positions, arguments, and perspectives. As a result, Philosophy majors at Purdue acquire both disciplinary knowledge and the philosophical skills needed to understand and address the global challenges facing humanity, now and in the future.

Course Offerings

Check out what we have on the schedule for the spring by checking out the Fall 2024 Course Offerings.

Undergraduate Opportunities 

Philosophy students may participate in the University Honors Program. Many study abroad. Philosophy majors and minors can attend the Philosophy Colloquium series.The Undergraduate Philosophy Society of Purdue provides a nice place to discuss philosophy outside of class.

The department is pleased to administer several awards and scholarships:

  • the The Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. Scholarship in Philosophy to an incoming new beginner Indiana resident
  • the Thomas Scholl Philosophy Scholarship to an incoming new beginner non-resident domestic or international student
  • the William L. Rowe Scholarship to our Outstanding Sophomore
  • the annual Eric L. Clitheroe Memorial Scholarship for the best undergraduate philosophy essays
  • and the CLA Alumni Board’s Outstanding Senior Award and accompanying Matchette prize.

Career Opportunities 

Philosophy majors go on to successful careers in law, education, medicine, publishing, business, marketing, management, government service, computer science, and the clergy, just to name a few! Philosophy is very suitable as a major for pre-professional students, including an ideal major for those who plan to enter law school. (See links included in the Plan of Study section, below.) Pursuing graduate studies in philosophy and becoming a philosophy professor is not a likely path for most, since the number of such positions is extremely limited. Nonetheless, some of our majors elect this course, with our support. Virtually every employer values the skills that are cultivated in philosophy courses: articulateness, clarity of expression, logical rigor and analysis, critical reflection, and argumentation. In many careers, philosophical knowledge and understanding are valuable assets, especially for those in leadership positions. Perhaps this is why recent studies show that, on average, those with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy “advance” more quickly within their careers than those of any other major.

We are proud of our many accomplished alumni, including recent CLA Distinguished Alumni Award Winners Tom Scholl (hi-tech venture capitalist, Philosophy BA 1970) Prof. Dorothy Leland (philosopher and university president, Philosophy PhD 1978) and Ambassador Donald Mahley (arms control negotiator, Philosophy BA 1964).

The Educational Testing Service consistently reports that those intending to study philosophy have the highest mean scores on both the verbal and analytical writing sections of the GRE, of all of the 57 areas of study listed.

On the LSAT, the mean score of philosophy majors is tied for first (with economics majors) amongst the 12 largest majors taking the test, and the average of philosophy & religion majors is consistently second only to majors in physics & math, out of 29 areas of study.

Philosophy applicants consistently have had one of the best rates of acceptance to medical school, better than majors in physics, mathematics, chemistry, or biology.

On the GMAT, the mean score of philosophy majors is consistently among the top-five or six majors (e.g., Physics, Math, Engineering, Computer Science) out of 41 areas of study.

Plan of Study 

Majoring in Philosophy at Purdue requires a total of 27 credit hours (nine courses), including:

  • PHIL 15000 (Principles of Logic), and either PHIL 30100 (History of Ancient Philosophy) or PHIL 30300 (History of Modern Philosophy)
    • as of 2020, students may take CS 18200 (Foundations Of Computer Science) instead of PHIL 15000
  • an additional 30000 level course in the history of philosophy (assuming you have only taken 1 of the above)
  • either PHIL 24000 (Social and Political Philosophy) or a 40000 level course in ethics (Modern or Recent Ethical Theory)
  • and three advanced courses in philosophy (40000 or 50000 level).

Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in philosophy should also take a third course in the history of philosophy and a course in metaphysics or epistemology.

Major Requirements

Because of the flexibility in major and minor requirements, many students tailor their elective choices to concentrate their expertise or complement their studies in areas such as law, medicine, history, literature, science, mathematics, engineering, religion, business, or politics and government.  A philosophy major can be a valuable part of most types of pre-professional training.

Minor Requirements

A Philosophy minor requires a total of 15 credit hours (five courses) in philosophy, including:

  • one of the following courses in the history of philosophy
    • PHIL 30100 (History of Ancient Philosophy)
    • PHIL 30200 (History of Medieval Philosophy)
    • PHIL 30300 (History of Modern Philosophy)
  • and at least one other intermediate (30000 level) or advanced course (40000 or 50000 level).

The Department of Philosophy also offers a minor in Human Rights Studies.

Students interested in graduate studies in philosophy are encouraged to consult with their advisor and philosophy faculty and graduate students.