Philosophy Honors Program

The philosophy honors program accepts applications twice a year: in the spring for students who plan to graduate in May or August of the following year, and in the fall for students who plan to graduate in December of the following year.

During their year in the program, honors students enroll in two 500 or 600 level philosophy graduate seminars (not undergraduate cross-listed sections, should they be offered). In these courses, honors students will be subject to the same writing and presentation requirements as graduate students, rather than any modified requirements for undergraduates enrolling in cross-listed sections. These two courses may be taken in either semester of the program year, though we suggest that honors students enroll in both during their first semester in the program.

During their second semester in the program, honors students also enroll in PHIL 468 (three credits), an honors thesis research course granting credit for the production of a 30–50 page research project. This thesis is written under the direction of a philosophy department faculty member who works with the honors student to shape the project, assists with research methodology, reads and responds to drafts, and determines the timetable for research, writing, and submission.

Near the end of the second semester (and after final submission), a public defense of the honors thesis will be held.

Philosophy majors graduating in August are held to the same schedule as those graduating in May. In other words, summer graduates must complete all honors program requirements (including thesis submission and defense) by the end of the spring semester.

Eligibility Requirements
  • Official declaration of a philosophy major by the time of application.
  • QPA minimum of 3.5 (this may be waived in consultation with the chair).
  • Endorsement by two Philosophy Department faculty members.
Application Procedure

The application procedure for the honors program consists of four steps.

  1. Meet with the full-time philosophy faculty member to whom you like to propose a thesis. You should arrive at this meeting able to explain in a preliminary way the project you intend to pursue. In most cases, your director should be someone whose classes you have taken and for whom you have already written something substantial.
  2. Secure the agreement of a second faculty member to endorse your participation in the honors program.
  3. Assemble your application packet. The application packet consists of two elements:
    • A letter of application detailing your background in philosophy (including a list of courses taken in the philosophy department), explaining why you believe you should be admitted to the honors program, and describing the thesis project you intend to pursue.
    • The letter should also include the names of the two philosophy faculty members mentioned above.Your Duquesne University transcript (unofficial printouts are fine), demonstrating that your current QPA is 3.5 or above.
  4. Submit your complete application no later than the end of March for a spring semester application, or no later than the end of October for a fall semester application. All elements of the application must be submitted in one envelope, which should be left in the box attached to Patrick Miller's office door (CH 332). Alternatively, the application may be submitted by email attachment to
Notes for Applicants
  • Faculty endorsers need not submit letters of recommendation. Simply include their names in your letter of application.
  • Philosophy graduate student instructors are not eligible to serve as honors program endorsers or thesis directors.
  • While honors program students and their directors may choose to seek additional thesis readers, this is not a requirement of the program.

If you have any questions regarding the program or application procedures, please contact Patrick Miller at

Undergraduate Theses


Olivia LeSuer, "Why Adults Run to Swing Sets." Director: Dr. James Swindal

Alejandro Napolitano Jawerbaum, "Are We Really Any Better?"  Director: Dr. Patrick Lee Miller


Kristian Sheeley, "Moral Virtue and Philosophical Education in Plato's Theaetetus." Director: Dr. Patrick Lee Miller


Jacob Gruber, "Beauty in Motion: St. Dionysius the Areopagite on God, Beauty, and Motion." Director: Dr. Thérèse Bonin


Faith McFadden, "Love, Birth, and Wisdom in Plato." Director: Dr. Patrick Lee Miller


Anthony Costantino, "A Catholic Rebuttal of Nietzsche's Critique of Christianity." Director: Dr. Patrick Lee Miller


Juan Escudero, "Reflection and The Return to the Self in Husserl's Phenomenology and Zen Buddhism." Director: Dr. Michael Harrington


Andrew Evans, "Investigating Love: Nietzsche Compared to Augustine." Director: Dr. Patrick Lee Miller.
Colin Stragar-Rice, "Morality as an Expression of Power: Conatus and Its Role in Moral Deliberation." Director: Dr. Kelly Arenson.


Stephen Hanson, "Husserl, Wittgenstein, & the Intersubjectivity of Language." Director: Dr. Lanei Rodemeyer
Rachel Van Campenhout, "Between Consciousness and the Body: A Phenomenlogical Exploration." Director: Dr. Lanei Rodemeyer
Roman Becicka, "The Role of Reason in Mental Health: Case-Studies in Ancient and Modern Philosophy." Director: Dr. Patrick Lee Miller


Benjamin Cahill, "The Christian Contemplative Tradition in relation to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit." Director: Dr. Jennifer Bates
Louis Butler, "A Philosophy of Food." Director: Dr. Patrick Lee Miller
Timothy Rothhaar, "The Mystery of Hope: Authentic Relationships in an Era of Despair." Director: Dr. Thérèse Bonin


Sarah Cates, "Perspectivism: The Influence of Leibniz and Nietzsche on Deleuze's Philosophy of Difference." Director: Dr. Daniel Selcer


Ronald Baumiller, "The Ancient Problem of Reference." Director: Dr. Michael Harrington
Susan Dattalo, "Women in Plato's Republic." Director: Dr. Ronald Polansky


Robert Guerin, "Contradiction and its Consequences for Genuine Self-Knowledge." Director: Dr. Patrick Lee Miller


Evan Dusheck, "Merleau-Ponty and the Cartesian Cogito." Director: Dr. Fred Evans


Eric Sampson, Director: Dr. Fred Evans