Philosophy majors learn two different but closely related kinds of things. First of all, students learn how some of humanity’s greatest and most profound thinkers have tried to answer certain basic and perennial questions. Among these are questions about morality, about our knowledge of the world, about the existence of God, about the relation between mind and body, and about the conditions of a just society. These quite general questions and the answers to them that have been advanced represent some of the most important themes in the history of our civilization. Acquaintance with this material is a necessary component of a balanced liberal education.
A philosophy major, however, does more than simply learn the views held by various philosophers. In attaining a grasp of those views, he or she must extract the principal points from complex material, evaluate the soundness of the arguments involved and, most important of all, justify his or her own position on any given topic. Writing, an integral part of any philosophy class, requires the ability to express one’s thoughts in a lucid and concise fashion and to defend them cogently.
These components of a philosophical training enable the philosophy major to develop sophisticated skills that are valuable in almost any field in which he or she might work, from business to law to scientific fields, including medicine. Two benefits of a balanced liberal education are knowledge and skills that will last a lifetime, and the philosophy curriculum provides exactly those benefits.
The University of Virginia Department of Philosophy
If you declared Philosophy as your major in or after Fall 2014, use this Curriculum Checklist to keep up with your progress:
If you declared Philosophy as your major before Fall 2014, you may use either the checklist above or the one below:
Minor in Philosophy Curriculum Checklist (dropdown list)
Minor Program (15 hrs.)
Select 15 hours from:
- PHIL – Upper Division courses (15) or
PHIL 2020 – Critical Thinking (3) and PHIL – Upper Division courses (12)
Last updated: 9/29/2017