Various Philosophers in Class

Major or Minor in Philosophy

Why should I major in Philosophy?Philosophy Undergrads

Philosophy is the art of thinking, and philosophical reflection encourages us to always seek the truth no matter our particular investments in a situation while assisting us to critically examine the ethical foundations of thought and action. Majors in Philosophy ask questions like: What is thinking and what are its limits? Is language a social intervention, an innate ability, or an imitation of nature? Is there a God, and what is this God like? How should we organize our society? Why are there inequalities, and is justice only the law of the stronger? Are the mind and body one thing, two things, or many? Are the elements of complex concepts connected in the same way as natural phenomena? Are standards of beauty objective, or do they depend on the one who experiences, feels, or observes?

Duquesne's Philosophy department is an academically rigorous, critical, intellectually diverse community internationally recognized and committed to teaching and research in Continental philosophy and the history of philosophy. Our major provides an intensive course of study through which students rigorously engage in logical analysis, conceptual interpretation, and critique of arguments, concepts, and their textual articulations. Our philosophy majors and minors deeply engage the history of philosophy to develop a competency to powerfully engage diverse intellectual positions on issues central to human existence. The engaged faculty of the Philosophy Department mentor our students as they develop a broad competence in the history of philosophy and a thorough understanding of diverse philosophical positions so that they may reflectively pursue whatever path in life they choose.

What can I do with a Philosophy major?

Duquesne Philosophy majors major intensively develops highly valued skills and competencies, something recognized both in the job market and in the entry frameworks required for advanced professional and academic degrees. Philosophy majors distinguish themselves as leaders in academia, medicine, politics, journalism, public relations, finance, public interest research, ministry, law, business, and education. They find a broad set of career paths open to them after graduation, as employers value the skills of skillful problem solving, careful thinking, analytical clarity, critical precision, lucid presentation of complex ideas, and innovative thinking that its practitioners become capable of applying in any context.

Recent Wall Street Journal and Forbes studies have also shown that Philosophy majors garner the highest mid-career salaries of any non-STEM major ( Many go on to advanced professional degrees, with those seeking to enter medical school scoring extremely well on the MCAT (the highest among majors in the humanities), those seeking to enter law scoring extremely well on the LSAT (scoring highest among majors in the humanities), and for those who intend to go on to graduate programs in the humanities, receiving the highest composite GRE scores of any major (highest in verbal and analytical writing of any major; highest in the humanities on the quantitative score).

In short, the Philosophy major provides a highly-valued generalist liberal arts degree that opens doors to a myriad of advanced professional possibilities while providing the opportunity for deeply meaningful reflective thinking.

Learning outcomes for the Philosophy major and minor

The goal of our major and minor are to develop the skills crucial to complex forms of inquiry and reflection and the discipline to ask the basic questions about human life in significant and rigorous ways. This goal provides us with the following formal learning outcomes:

Argumentative skill

Philosophy majors and minors will be able to proficiently formulate, and defend complex arguments and concepts about crucial issues concerning the world, articulating clear and valid arguments while engaging in constructive and responsive discourse with peers.

Interpretive finesse

Philosophy majors and minors will critically engage with influential and vibrant concepts, arguments, and approaches drawn from primary texts in the history of philosophy and its contemporary deployment. They will be able to proficiently explain, analyze, interpret, and critique classical philosophical texts and complex conceptual positions. They will be able to distinguish the constituent elements of claims and critically evaluate their coherence.

Historical awareness & contemporary engagement

Philosophy majors and minors will demonstrate proficiency in reading, interpreting, critically rearticulating, and putting to work classic texts and ideas drawn from ancient, medieval, and modern philosophy, while also addressing questions and problems from the perspective of contemporary practitioners that engage the world in which we live.

Ethical analysis

Philosophy majors and minors will demonstrate both broad and deep understanding of a comprehensive set of theoretical approaches to ethical analysis as well as develop the skills to apply the forms of judgment they demand to concrete situations.

Reflective self-interrogation

Philosophy majors and minors will be able to critically and rigorously question their own presuppositions and beliefs, identify areas of agreement and points of divergence with the positions of others, and cultivate openness to revising their views in transformative ways.