Major Requirements

Every philosophy major will be required to complete a total of 12 courses (36 credits) as well as demonstrate proficiency in several skills that the department has deemed to be essential for professional advancement within the discipline and its related fields. Please note that courses may not be used to satisfy two or more requirements.


Students majoring in philosophy must successfully complete the following requirements:

1. Logic 1 Course
Logic (PHL 176)
2. Ethics* 2 Courses
Personal and Community Ethics (PHL 105)
Race, Gender and Sexuality (PHL 115)
Environmental Ethics (PHL 205)
Philosophy and the Animal (PHL 228)
Political Philosophy (PHL 231)
Queer Theory (PHL 237)
Critical Race Theory (PHL 245)
Biomedical Ethics (PHL 254)
Feminist Philosophy (PHL 276)
Nietzsche (PHL 330)
3. History Sequence 4 Courses
Ancient (PHL 260)
Neoplatonism (PHL 227)
Medieval and Renaissance (PHL 226)
Modern (PHL 216)
Nineteenth Century (PHL 219)
Phenomenology (PHL 220)
Twentieth-Century Analytic (PHL 223)
Contemporary (PHL 217)
4. Electives (200 or 300-level)** 2 Courses
5. Electives (300-level) 3 Courses
Descartes (PHL 337)
Kant (PHL 333)
Nietzsche (PHL 330)
Heidegger (PHL 336)
Lyotard (PHL 339)
Foucault (PHL 332)
Derrida (PHL 338)
Open (PHL 395)

12 Total Courses*** 36 Credits

* Ethics courses include any course in which normative social, political or ethical issues are the primary focus of the curriculum.

** One 100-level philosophy course (except for Logic) may replace a 200-level elective. However, only one 100-level course (in addition to Logic) may be used to satisfy any of the degree requirements.

*** Philosophy course credits earned for a two-semester Senior Thesis independent study or through enrollment in an ICA study abroad course do not count toward the credits necessary to complete the major. They are taken in addition to the 36-credit requirement outlined above.


Two primary areas of proficiency must be achieved before a student completes the major: Speaking Proficiency and Writing Proficiency.

In both of these areas we feel that outside evaluation is critical not only because it provides a reasonably objective standard for evaluating the quality of the work being produced, but also because it requires students to prepare their material for an unfamiliar audience.

Speaking Proficiency

Goal: To develop the ability to speak clearly about philosophical subjects in a formal setting and to respond intelligently to questions regarding one's position on philosophically relevant subjects.

Assessment: Each student is required to actively participate in classroom discussion throughout her or his years as a philosophy major. However, we recognize that, while classroom discussion is essential, it is not formal in nature. Consequently, we require that each student demonstrate that she or he can deliver a well prepared, formal presentation on a philosophical subject. We believe it is important for each student to have at least one solid opportunity to move to the front of the classroom and teach to her or his peers. The ability to do this can be demonstrated either:

  • by having a paper accepted for presentation at an undergraduate conference where the presentation is open for questioning by the audience
  • by enrolling in a philosophy course that incorporates a substantial class presentation
  • by orally defending a senior thesis

Writing Proficiency

Goal: To develop the ability to critically respond to philosophical texts/issues in the form of well argued and carefully written essays.

Assessment: Each student is required to produce a substantial amount of writing throughout her or his years as a philosophy major. However, we recognize that not all course papers rise to the level of excellence. Consequently, we require that each student demonstrate that this excellence has been achieved by accomplishing one of the following:

  • having a paper published, for instance, in an undergraduate journal, in a campus essay magazine, or in another peer reviewed forum
  • enrolling in a philosophy course that incorporates a revision process for the final essay-ideally this would include a peer-to-peer workshop component as well
  • writing a senior thesis
  • assembling, in their senior year, a Writing Portfolio which will include three of the student's best papers written on a philosophical topic during their years at Goucher. This portfolio will be submitted for review to the student's advisor no later than April 1 of their senior year (or November 1 in the case of a December graduation).

Senior Thesis

The philosophy program encourages all eligible seniors to consider writing a senior thesis in their final year.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to write a thesis, students must meet the following requirements:

  • A minimum GPA of 3.50 in philosophy
  • A minimum GPA of 3.25 overall

Thesis Timetable

Students considering a senior thesis should begin discussing this option with their advisor in the second semester of their junior year. Since senior thesis registration is for a full year, all students interested in this option should begin as early as possible working with their advisor to develop a thesis topic.

The typical timetable for a senior thesis is as follows:

Spring of Junior year

1. Speak with adviser about eligibility
2. Assemble thesis committee
3. Draft a thesis proposal
4. Register for senior thesis

Summer of Junior year

5. Begin research

Fall of Senior year

6. Begin writing thesis

Spring of Senior year

7. Schedule oral defense of thesis
8. Defend thesis
9. Submit copy of thesis to the library

Thesis Requirements

The program considers the following requirements necessary for the successful completion of a senior thesis within philosophy.

  1. The committee should include three members (one of these may be an outside reader)
  2. The thesis should be at least forty pages in length.
  3. The thesis should be of the highest academic quality.
  4. The thesis must be successfully defended in the presence of the assembled thesis committee.

Honors in the Major

The philosophy program has established the following requirements for honors within the major:

Honors Requirement

  1. A minimum GPA of 3.75 in philosophy
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.50 overall
  3. The production of an exceptionally high quality philosophical paper (this is typically fulfilled by a senior thesis)

h3>Philosophy Major Checklist

Review the Philosophy Major Checklist (PDF) with your academic advisor to ensure that you are taking the necessary courses and credits to graduate. If you have any questions, please contact your advisor or visit the Academic Advising website for more information.