Philosophy Major, B.A.

Department of Philosophy

Caldwell Hall, 240 East Cameron, CB# 3125

(919) 962-7291

Professor Mariska Leunissen, Director of Undergraduate Studies

The principal goal of the study of philosophy is to enable students to think more clearly, deeply, and appreciatively about themselves and their world. Study of philosophy enhances analytical, critical, and interpretive capacities that are applicable to any subject matter in almost any context. It provides many opportunities for expressing oneself, for reflecting on questions that human beings have pondered for millennia, for exchanging reasoned beliefs and engaging in focused debate, and for learning how to come to terms with problems for which there are no easy answers. A good philosophical education also helps to prepare students for responsible and intelligent participation in political and community affairs.

Department Programs



Graduate Programs


In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC-Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC-Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
Nine PHIL courses, at least six of which are numbered above 19927
The nine courses must include at least one course in three of the following four distribution areas:
History of philosophy: courses above 100 with a second digit of 1 or 2
Metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language: courses above 100 with a second digit of 3 or 4
Logic and philosophy of science: courses above 100 with a second digit of 5
Value theory: courses above 100 with a second digit of 6, 7, or 8
Total Hours27

Philosophy (PHIL) course descriptions.

While first-year seminars may be used in the major core, they are numbered below 100, and their second digits do not correspond to the four distribution areas above.

Within the framework of the major, students can elect a prelaw concentration designed specifically for those planning on pursuing a career in law. Professor Postema, who also holds an appointment in the School of Law, is available to advise those electing this concentration.

Special Opportunities in Philosophy

Honors in Philosophy

Students majoring in philosophy who have at least a 3.3 grade point average and a 3.5 grade point average within the major may be eligible to write an honors thesis during their senior year. Students writing honors theses take two semesters of honors thesis coursework; PHIL 691H and PHIL 692H contribute toward fulfilling major requirements but cannot be applied toward a distribution area. Students registered for PHIL 692H will meet periodically as a group, organized by the director of undergraduate studies, to present and discuss their research in progress. Departmental approval is required. Interested students are encouraged to contact the director of undergraduate studies for more information.

Philosophy Outreach Program

The Philosophy Outreach Program provides students with many exciting opportunities to put their philosophical education to use in their communities. Outreach volunteers teach philosophy to students in local elementary and secondary schools, lead discussions with senior citizens in retirement communities, and participate in a variety of topical public events. For more information, please contact Outreach Coordinator Steven Swartzer or visit the Web site.

Undergraduate Philosophy Club

This group meets weekly to discuss topics of interest and the work of current faculty members. The club sponsors an annual undergraduate philosophy symposium. Detailed information is available on the program’s Web site.

Phi Sigma Tau

The Eta Chapter of the international honor society in philosophy is open to students who have completed a minimum of three semesters, have completed at least two philosophy courses, have a minimum 3.7 grade point average in their philosophy courses, and have a cumulative 3.2 grade point average.

Study Abroad

The Department of Philosophy enjoys close relations with a number of departments in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom and is willing and able to work closely with the Study Abroad Office to arrange opportunities for study in these and other countries.

Undergraduate Research

There are opportunities for students to work closely with faculty members in the Department of Philosophy on individual research projects. This usually takes the form of an honors thesis project. It may also be done as a directed readings course.

Speaker Series

The Department of Philosophy sponsors a series of talks given by distinguished philosophers from around the world, as well as work-in-progress talks by faculty members and graduate students. All students are welcome to attend all of these talks. The schedule can be found online.

Undergraduate Symposium

The Philosophy Club and Phi Sigma Tau coordinate a student conference of selected papers. The one-day conference is set in the format of a professional conference during which students have an opportunity to present their research.

Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl

The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl provides students with a unique opportunity to practice applying the moral theories and argumentation principles learned in their ethics classes. The team sent to the Ethics Bowl competition will be selected from those registered in the course. For more information contact Professor Russ Shafer-Landau, Director of the Parr Center for Ethics, CB# 3125, 207A Caldwell Hall, (919) 962-3317.