Old Major and Minor Requirements

Guidelines for Philosophy Majors and Minors: 2004-2009

IMPORTANT NOTE: Our major requirements have changed! These older requirements are for students who have taken Phil 204: Theories of Knowledge and Reality.  If you have not taken this course, please see the new major requirements here. If you are not sure which set of requirements should apply to you, please consult with the Philosophy Department Chair.

Major Requirements

Philosophy courses fall into three main areas.

The three areas are:

I. Ethics, Politics and Aesthetics: Philosophical inquiry into the making and justifying of judgments of value.

II. Metaphysics, Epistemology and Philosophy of Language: Philosophical inquiry into the nature of reality and how we know it.

III. Logic, Rhetoric and Dialectic: Philosophical inquiry into forms of reasoning and argument to develop in students those skills essential to rigorous thinking.

In general, students are advised to take courses within each group in sequence; 100-level courses provide excellent foundations for 203 and 204; and the three core courses, 202, 203, and 204, provide excellent foundations for 300-level courses in each of the three areas. Within levels there is no recommended sequence. There is, for instance, no reason to take Philosophy 203 before 204 or 301 before 331.

A major in philosophy consists of ten courses, including the following: Philosophy 202 (Reasoning) and at least one other course in the area of logic, rhetoric and dialectic; 203 (Ethical Theory) and at least one other course in the area of ethics, politics and aesthetics; 204 (Theories of Knowledge and Reality) and at least one other course in the area of metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of language, and a "Senior Year Experience" (SYE) course or course sequence in philosophy. Only one 100-level course may count towards the major. At least one Area I course and at least one Area II course must be a 300-level course.

The SYE options in the philosophy department include the following:

Phil 400: Metaphilosophy. This senior seminar is offered every year in the spring, and is open only to seniors. It is constructed as a senior capstone course, giving students the opportunity to reflect on the academic discipline of philosophy and clarify their own emerging philosophical identities.

Phil 498-499: Honors: Research and Thesis. This is a two semester sequence offered to exceptional students who apply for this option. Students eligible for this option are those eligible for Honors in Philosophy (see below), that is, students who have a 3.5 grade point average in the department. Selected students will work on independent research with their thesis advisor in the Fall (Phil 498) and then write an honors thesis in the spring (Phil 499). Upon approval of the thesis advisor and a second reader in the philosophy department, the student will then offer a thesis defense for the other members of the philosophy department; all students defending theses will participate in this event. Students must apply by submitting a research project proposal in the spring of their junior year. Worksheets are available in the Philosophy Department office (114 Piskor Hall).

Phil 489-490: Research and Thesis. In rare cases, highly motivated students who are not eligible for honors may still complete their SYE requirement by engaging in research and the writing and defense of a thesis. Interested students must submit a research proposal in the spring of their junior year, and these proposals will be considered after honors proposals are evaluated.

Minor Requirements

A minor in philosophy consists of five to nine courses including Philosophy 202, 203 and 204.


To receive honors in philosophy, a student must satisfy the requirements for the major. In addition, he or she must have a 3.5 grade point average in the department and complete a departmentally approved honors project (Philosophy 498-499).

Combined Majors

Combined majors that involve philosophy include Environmental Studies/Philosophy, and soon there will be a combined major in Philosophy/Asian Studies. For complete details about these majors, consult the descriptions of these majors in the current St. Lawrence University Catalog.

The philosophy courses required for the Environmental Studies/Philosophy Combined Major include:

  • Phil 202: Reasoning
  • Phil 203: Ethical Theory
  • Phil 204: Theories of Knowledge and Reality
  • Phil 206: Introduction to Political Theory
  • Phil 310: Philosophy of the Environment
  • 3 electives

While Phil 102: Philosophy of Nature, is not required for the Environmental Studies/Philosophy Major, it is an excellent introductory philosophy course to consider if you are exploring this possible major.

If you should decide to pursue this combined major as your major, instead of Philosophy alone, please consult the current St. Lawrence University Catalog for full details.

Double Majors and Multifield Majors

A number of philosophy majors complete double majors. The study of philosophy blends well with many other academic disciplines. Students have completed double majors combining philosophy with English, Psychology, Sociology, Biology, and Fine Arts, to list just a few of the possibilities. Completing a double major requires careful planning, as the major requirements for both disciplines must be fulfilled.

Several students have also integrated substantial study of philosophy in multifield majors. The multifield major option allows you to design your own major, in close consultation with faculty advisors in the different disciplines you would be combining. Further details are available in the St. Lawrence University Catalog.