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Degree: BA

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

The philosophy major trains students in rigorous, analytical reasoning and teaches them how to solve problems and communicate logically and persuasively, both in speech and in writing.

By studying classic texts and contemporary problems, students learn how to construct powerful arguments while pondering some of the deepest questions in human life: What makes for a meaningful life? Do humans have free will? What is the nature of consciousness and can it be explained? Is the existence of a benevolent and all-powerful God compatible with the existence of natural and human evil? What is the nature of right and wrong? Are there objective moral standards?

Students in the philosophy program learn how to explore answers to these fundamental questions by debating and defending complex ideas and arguments and expressing beliefs with clarity and precision. They develop a sensitivity to the assumptions that underlie our factual and evaluative judgments, and become careful and critical readers, writers, listeners and thinkers. The training that philosophy majors get is useful in all professional arenas, and also plays a valuable role in living a thoughtful and productive life. 

On admission to the university, students may declare a major in philosophy.

The philosophy major consists of a prerequisite requirement (Philosophy 2500: Symbolic Logic) and major program requirements. Students should try to satisfy the prerequisite soon after declaring a major in philosophy. The major program must include at least 30 credit hours in courses numbered 2000 and above, not including Philosophy 2500, and at least six must be philosophy courses 5000 or above.

The philosophy major is flexible and can be tailored to the individual student’s specific interests and plans. Courses in all the major areas of philosophy are offered, as well as courses in special topics such as Death and the Meaning of Life, Asian Philosophy, The Future of Humanity, The Philosophy of Art and Environmental Ethics. 

Required courses

  • Gateway Seminar, Philosophy 3000 (three credit hours)
  • Two of the following History of Philosophy courses (six credit hours):
    • History of Ancient Philosophy (3210)
    • History of Medieval Philosophy (3220)
    • History of 17th-Century Philosophy (3230)
    • History of 18th-Century Philosophy (3240)
    • History of 19th-Century Philosophy (3250)
    • Fundamental Concepts of Existentialism (3261)
  • Two of the following Philosophical Topics courses (six credit hours): 
    • Philosophy of Logic (3530)
    • Intro to Philosophy of Language (3600)
    • Philosophy of Science (3650)
    • Introduction to Metaphysics (3700)
    • Introduction to Theory of Knowledge (3750)
    • Introduction to Philosophy of Mind (3800)
    • Philosophy of Action (3810)

Philosophy majors may be particularly interested in the Undergraduate Philosophy Club. The club hosts weekly meetings during which professors and graduate students visit to discuss a variety of philosophical subjects. The club can also connect members with research opportunities.

Philosophy majors are employed in a wide variety of professions. Many employers, including those in business, education and government, are interested in hiring people who are liberally educated, and who have exactly the skills utilized most in philosophical inquiry and debate. 

Some graduates of the philosophy program go on to law school and other professional and graduate programs, and philosophy majors are known to achieve the highest scores on the graduate school entrance exams, including the Law School Admission Test, the Graduate Management Admission Test and the Graduate Record Examination. 

Ohio State graduates with philosophy degrees have chosen non-academic jobs that include research administrator for the National Youth Employment Coalition, stockbroker with Dean Witter, systems engineer with IBM, assistant district attorney in San Francisco, film and TV screenwriter, and teacher with Teach for America. Philosophy graduates who earn a PhD may pursue an academic career.