Requirements and Policies

Courses open to those with no prior philosophy: 101, 102, 103, 181, 201, 210, 211, 220, 241, 253, 254, 261, 341, 501, 540, 545, 547, 558. Philosophy 101 and 181 are open to all freshmen; 102 and 103 are open to freshmen who have had 101. Non-honors students of high standing may be admitted to honors courses with the consent of the instructor when the course is not full. Students who do not satisfy the prerequisites of a course may consult the instructor to determine if special considerations may warrant waiving the prerequisites.


The minimum requirements for the major is eight philosophy courses amounting to at least 27 credits. These credits must include: (1) a course in Logic (Philosophy 211, 282, or 511); (2) History of Ancient Philosophy (Philosophy 430) and History of Modern Philosophy (Philosophy 432); (3) a total of at least five conventionally graded courses designated in the schedule of classes (Timetable) as advanced which may include 430, 432, and 511, but excludes the following courses: 545, 558, 571, 598, 599, 670, 681, 682, 691, 692, 699; (4) one Category A course and one category B course. (It is recommended that 430 and 432 be taken in the junior year; the course used to satisfy requirement (1) should be taken as early as possible.)

Of the 27 credits, at least one course must be chosen from each of the following two categories:

Category A:

  • 501 (Philosophy of Religion)
  • 503 (Theory of Knowledge)
  • 516 (Language and Meaning)
  • 520 (Philosophy of the Natural Sciences)
  • 530 (Freedom, Fate, and Choice)
  • 551 (Philosophy of Mind)
  • 560 (Metaphysics)

Category B:

  • 241 (Introductory Ethics)
  • 253 (Philosophy of the Arts)
  • 541 (Modern Ethical Theories)
  • 549 (Great Moral Philosophers)
  • 552 (Aesthetic Theories)
  • 553 (Aesthetics)
  • 555 (Political Philosophy)

In addition, the following Special Topics courses may, on occasion, be used to fulfill this distribution requirement, depending on their particular content that semester, according to the judgment of the committee on the undergraduate major:

For Category A:

  • 502 (Special Topics in the Philosophy of Religion)
  • 504 (Special Topics in the Theory of Knowledge)
  • 517 (Special Topics in the Philosophy of Language)
  • 562 (Special Topics in Metaphysics)

For Category B:

  • 543 (Special Topics in Ethics)

Honors in the Major:

Students wishing to earn Honors in the Major in Philosophy will be expected to have earned a minimum grade point average of 3.5 in philosophy at the completion of their thesis (Philosophy 681–682). Students must also have a 3.3 overall GPA in their UW coursework to be eligible for departmental honors. Students will not be permitted to write an honors thesis unless they have taken at least one advanced course on the topic on which they will be writing. Credits earned by writing an honors thesis will not count toward the minimal number of credits required for an honors major. In consultation with the professor with whom the student is working, the student will enroll for 1–3 credits of 681 in the first semester of thesis writing and 3 credits of 682 in the second semester. The thesis credits must earn a minimum grade of AB. In addition to a standard major in philosophy, the student must take an additional three credits in philosophy. These additional credits must come from Category A or Category B or from a capstone course (Philosophy 690 is our capstone course).

Students should inform the Department of Philosophy of their intention to major by contacting the Undergraduate Advisor in 5117 Helen C. White Hall, phone number 263-3747 and filing a major declaration form. The philosophy major is intended to meet the needs of four types of students:

  1. those who wish to use philosophy as the organizing core of a liberal education
  2. those who desire to study philosophy in preparation for graduate work in some other field, such as law, government, or theology
  3. those who plan to major jointly in philosophy and one of the social and natural sciences or humanities
  4. those who have a professional interest in philosophy and intend to do graduate work in the subject