Degrees BA, MA, PhD

The undergraduate degree in philosophy emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:

• some of the principal philosophical texts in the history of western philosophy, from its beginnings in Greece to the late 19th century;
• some of the main currents in 20th century philosophy, including some acquaintance with contemporary philosophical issues and modes of inquiry;
• a single major author or a single philosophical movement; and
• elementary formal logic.
In addition, students completing the degree in philosophy are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:

• form reasoned opinions about the issues—moral, religious, political, etc.—that educated people debate;
• understand, analyze, and evaluate complex arguments and theories;
• distinguish between the main thrust of an argument or position and what is ancillary to it;
• discover and critically examine the underlying presuppositions of major systems of ideas or programs for action;
• see important connections between different systems of ideas or programs for action;
• explain difficult ideas and concepts in an informed, effective, and coherent manner;
• develop a thesis and present a coherent argument for it;
• write a clear and coherent essay; and
• engage in rational and productive discussion of issues and arguments.

Bachelor’s Degree Program +

For the undergraduate degree in philosophy, students must take 33 to 45 credit hours in philosophy, earning 33 hours with a grade of C- or better in each course in philosophy and 2.00 (C) average for all work attempted in philosophy. Also, students must take 18 hours of upper-division work in philosophy with a grade of C- or better, with at least 12 of those 18 credit hours completed on the CU-Boulder campus. No more than 8 credit hours of independent study may count toward the minimum requirement.

Students are advised to consult the online Schedule Planner for the most accurate information on prerequisites, since these sometimes vary with instructors.

Courses may be taken in any order providing prerequisites, if any, are met. However, the department strongly recommends completion of PHIL 2440, 3000, 3010, and 3480 in the first year of the major program.

Students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and the required courses listed below.

Required Courses Semester Hours
(three courses) 9
PHIL 3000 History of Ancient Philosophy, Ancient and Medieval
PHIL 3010 History of Modern Philosophy, Modern

One course of the following:
PHIL 4010 Single Philosopher
PHIL 4020 Topics in the History of Philosophy
PHIL 4030 Medieval Philosophy
PHIL 4040 20th Century Philosophy
PHIL 4070 Existentialist Philosophy
PHIL 4080 Introduction to Phenomenology
PHIL 4250 Marxism

(one of the following courses) 3
PHIL 2440 Symbolic Logic
PHIL 4440 Topics in Logic

Philosophical Writing
(one course)
PHIL 3480 Critical Thinking and Writing in Philosophy (prereq. or coreq., PHIL 2440 Symbolic Logic)

(two courses)
The following required course: PHIL 3100 Ethical Theory (prereq. or coreq., PHIL 3480 Critical Thinking and Writing in Philosophy) 3

One of the following additional courses 3
PHIL 2140 Environmental Justice
PHIL 2200 Major Social Theories
PHIL 2220 Philosophy and Law
PHIL 2290 Philosophy and Women
PHIL 3110 Feminist Practical Ethics
PHIL 3140 Environmental Ethics
PHIL 3160 Bioethics
PHIL 3190 War and Morality
PHIL 3200 Social and Political Philosophy
PHIL 3260 Philosophy and the International Order
PHIL 4110 Contemporary Moral Theory
PHIL 4200 Contemporary Political Philosophy
PHIL 4250 Marxism

Metaphysics and Epistemology
(two courses)
The following required course: PHIL 3340 Epistemology (prereq. or coreq. PHIL 3480 Critical Thinking) 3

One of the following additional courses 3
PHIL 3600 Philosophy of Religion
PHIL 4300 Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 4360 Metaphysics
PHIL 4400 Philosophy of Science
PHIL 4490 Philosophy of Language

(two courses) (includes all courses that are at the 2000 level or above, and are not taken to satisfy any of the above requirements) 6

Note: The department offers topically oriented majors that are interdisciplinary in nature, including law and society, and values and social policy. These majors require two semesters in the history of philosophy, as well as a series of core courses that vary according to the topic. A student intending to complete a topical major in philosophy should see the departmental undergraduate advisor as soon as possible.

Graduating in Four Years +

Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in philosophy, students should meet the following requirements:

Declare major by the beginning of the second semester.
Complete an average of 6.7 credit hours of required philosophy courses in each of the next five semesters.
Meet with the undergraduate advisor at the time the major is declared.
Complete PHIL 2440, PHIL 3480, PHIL 3000, and PHIL 3010 by the end of the fifth semester of study.

Minor Program +

A minor is offered in philosophy. Declaration of a minor is open to any student enrolled at CU-Boulder, regardless of college or school. For more information, see

Graduate Degree Programs +

Applicants for admission to the Graduate School for work toward a master’s or doctoral degree with a major in philosophy are expected to have had 18 or more credit hours in undergraduate courses in the subject.

Through its MA and PhD programs, the department offers three areas of concentration in graduate study: history of philosophy, contemporary metaphysics, and moral theory and practical ethics.

Beyond the required course work and examinations for the PhD, a diversified faculty provides opportunity for a wide range of specialization in the dissertation project. The department makes available a limited number of teaching assistantships and assists with job placement. Descriptions of all degree programs are available from the Department of Philosophy.

Students wishing to pursue graduate work in philosophy should note requirements for advanced degrees in the Graduate School chapter and should obtain a copy of the Graduate Program Rules from the department.

Descriptions of all degree programs are available from the Department of Philosophy.

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