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Current Students

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Resources for Current Philosophy Students

You probably have some idea of what philosophy is, and why studying philosophy is important that you have gathered from your experience with philosophy courses so far, but if you want to remind yourself of what we think of those topics, continue reading here

To see recent events in the philosophy department, check out our News and Events here.

To learn about the interests of our faculty follow the links for each of them here.

Philosophy majors have the opportunity to participate in Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competitions. If you are interested in participating in Ethics Bowl, you should have completed an ethics course such as PHIL 231 or PHIL 331, which are requirements for the major. You should also contact the director of our Ethics Bowl program by email if you have any specific questions about Ethics Bowl. For more information about our Ethics Bowl program, continue reading here.

We run an annual essay contest with prize money for the winner and runner up. For more information, continue reading here.

We run an annual student symposium where our majors and minors present their research to their peers and our faculty. For more information about the student symposium, continue reading here.

The philosophy majors have an ASI Philosophy Club. For more information, continue reading here

Philosophy majors can serve on the Philosophy Student Advisory Committee which meets a few times each quarter to discuss the business of the department and to provide feedback on class scheduling, curriculum, hiring, alumni relations, and the use of College Based Fees in the department. For more information about the Philosophy Student Advisory Committee (PHIL SAC), continue reading here

Academic Advising for Philosophy Majors

About the Philosophy BA Program

The Philosophy BA covers the core areas of philosophy:

  • Ethics
  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology
  • Logic
  • History of Philosophy

In keeping with the polytechnic mission of Cal Poly, we also require our majors to complete a course in Philosophy of Science.

Our incoming freshmen take an Introduction to Philosophy course. We also require two great books courses (Philosophical Classics) as part of our foundations for subsequent study of philosophy at an upper level. Our transfer students meet some or all of these lower-division requirements with transfer credit.

Starting Fall 2022 new students will have another major requirement: a junior level course on Philosophical Writing and Research for majors only. Current students may take this course as an elective.

Philosophy electives and concentrations

The Philosophy BA includes twenty units of upper-division electives. Majors may choose their own courses, including at least twelve units of 400 (i.e. senior) level coursework.

Majors may instead declare concentrations for which students complete twenty units of coursework in philosophy courses specifically in those areas of study, and the name of that concentration is listed on the transcript.

Current majors have the option of declaring a concentration in Ethics and Society. Starting Fall 2022 the Philosophy BA will have four options for 20 units of philosophy electives:

  • Choose your own courses including 12 units at the 400 level
  • Concentration in Philosophy and Religion — New!
  • Concentration in Ethics of Science and Technology — New!
  • Concentration in Ethics and Society — Revised!

For information about these new concentrations, and to discuss whether changing your catalog requirements to allow for the new or revised concentrations are good options for you, meet with the department chair or major advisors.

Philosophy BA Requirements

The current catalog description of the Philosophy BA requirements includes the following information about the Philosophy BA:

  • Program Learning Objectives
  • Degree Requirements and Curriculum
  • Concentration or Electives
  • General Education (GE) Requirements

The new catalog for 2022 will be published sometime in summer 2022. For information about the new catalog requrements and new concentrations, contact the department chair or major advisors.

Philosophy degree requirements for the 2021-22 catalog are available here. Information about the Ethics and Society concentration is available with the major requirements. Curriculum sheets and degree progress flowcharts are linked to the catalog webpage. 

Requirements for prior catalogs can be found here.

The catalog lists all the philosophy courses here.

Philosophy Major Academic Advisors

Philosophy majors may meet with any of our three academic advisors to discuss progress to degree, or anything else related to the major.

The academic advisors for Philosophy majors are:

  • Kenneth Brown (Philosophy Department chair)
  • Ryan Jenkins
  • Ava Wright

For the office hours of our major advisors see the Philosophy Faculty and Staff directory

You can see our tentative plans for course offerings here.

Information about the philosophy senior project can be found here.

For information about enrolling in classes, meeting degree requirements, procuring permission numbers for major requirements, consult the major advisors or the department chair.

Academic Advising for Philosophy Minors

Philosophy Minor

The minor in philosophy consists of twenty-four units of philosophy coursework, including a GE Area C2 course and a senior level seminar course in philosophy. Philosophy minors can satisfy other GE requirements within the minor as well. Philosophy minor requirements are in the Catalog available here.

Philosophy minors may meet with our minor advisors to discuss progress to completion of the minor, or anything else related to the minor, including any need for substitutions. The academic advisors for Philosophy minors are:

  • Eleanor Helms (Philosophy Minor Advisor)
  • Kenneth Brown (Philosophy Department chair)

The office hours of our minor advisors see the Philosophy Faculty and Staff directory

Students who are ready to declare the PHIL minor can begin the form here.

Minors Closely Related to Philosophy

The Philosophy Department offers a minor in the Western Intellectual Tradition. Requirements for the minor are available at the Cal Poly Catalog. To discuss declaring the minor, or substituting requirements for the minor, please see the Western Intellectual Tradition minor director, Eleanor Helms, whose office hours are listed on the Philosophy Faculty and Staff directory

Information about the religious studies minor can be found at the Religious Studies program website.

Some faculty in Philosophy and Religious Studies teach courses in Women's and Gender Studies, and some PHIL and RELS courses are cross-listed as WGQS courses. The minors supported by the WGQS department are natural extensions of study in philosophy:

Students wanting to pursue courses of study related to and including philosophy and philosophy majors wanting to extend their philosophy degree into other related areas might want to consider the following minors that include PHIL courses in their requirements or electives:

Need a Form?

Majors and minors might need to fill out and submit some forms. Here are the most common ones our majors need:

  • Philosophy major Ethics and Society Concentration declaration form
  • Senior Project Agreement Form
  • Independent Study: PHIL 400 — Special Problems for Advanced Undergraduates Agreement Form

You should consult with the PHIL major advisors about declaring concentrations. Senior project forms are available to those who are enrolled in PHIL 460: Senior Project I. Students seeking an independent study course should discuss their ideas with the instructor and the department chair, who will provide the form.

Declaration forms for minors in the philosophy department are available here:

For information about the Religious Studies minor, see the Religious Studies website.

Many other forms come from the Registrar, and you can find them here.

What Can You Do with Your Philosophy Degree?

You may be thinking about your post-graduate career. The good news is that Cal Poly philosophy majors generally do quite well in their post-graduate careers.

To learn about why studying philosophy is good career preparation, continue reading here

To see the Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts Career Services events planned for the upcoming year, continue reading here.

Also, meet with the Philosophy academic advisors or any of your favorite Philosophy faculty members to discuss career prospects for philosophy majors

Thinking About Graduate School?

A graduate degree in philosophy opens many doors — from teaching philosophy at the college level, to policy or government work, publishing, law, intelligence, and technology.

Moreover, graduate school offers an opportunity to amplify and extend your studies into philosophy, delving deeper into the subjects you enjoy and find most fascinating, and integrating into a vibrant and dynamic intellectual community.

If you are interested in attending graduate school, contact the department’s Graduate Placement Director, Ryan Jenkins. You can also consult the resources below about graduate program rankings and placement records:

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