Sophomores interested in signing into the department need before doing so to communicate with the director of undergraduate studies (formerly known as departmental representative) for important instructions, especially about fall junior year independent work.
For juniors and seniors, course selections and changes are approved by the director of undergraduate studies. who can perform some of the functions of an academic advisor and refer students to other department faculty for further advice if desired. All students are encouraged to communicate with the director of undergraduate studies at course selection time, and the following are required to do so: sophomores entering the department; fall seniors selecting spring courses; spring seniors dropping departmental courses.
Certain of a student's courses are designated departmentals, and the grades in courses so designated are the course grades used in computing the student's departmental average. The official designation of departmentals occurs during the fall of the senior year when selecting courses for spring of senior year: All designations before this time are provisional; after this time a designation cannot be changed merely in order to improve a student's average. All philosophy courses taken for letter grades junior or senior year must be designated departmentals, as must all courses used to fulfill departmental requirements. Designation of any other philosophy courses is optional.
The departmental course requirement is eight courses. Courses taken before fall semester junior year normally may be counted, including the prerequisite course; and up to two courses may be lower division (200-level or lower). Up to two courses in other departments may be counted as cognates, if approved as contributing significantly to the student's course of study; these must normally be courses completed before spring semester senior year. Further, six out of the eight courses must be so distributed that there are two in each of three out of the four areas (metaphysics; ethics & philosophy of value; logic & philosophy of science; history of philosophy) into which philosophy courses are divided; there is no such restriction on the remaining two out of the eight. The area classification of most courses is listed in the Undergraduate Announcement; for other courses the classification will be made by the departmental representative.
Students doing the senior thesis in certain interdisciplinary fields have the option of replacing the regular requirement of two courses in each of three philosophy areas by an alternative requirement. The political philosophy option involves using the quota of two cognates for courses listed under the Politics department as political theory courses and counting this in place of one philosophy area, and then doing two courses in the ethics & philosophy of value area, and two courses in some one other philosophy area. The philosophy of science option involves using the quota of two cognates for upper division courses in some one relevant science (e.g. mathematics, physics, biology, psychology, linguistics) and counting this in place of one philosophy area, and then doing two courses in the logic & philosophy of science area, and two courses in some one other philosophy area.
For students following the regular requirements, cognates require individual approval. Cognates may not be used for both courses in a distribution area (and standards for approval are generally more liberal for courses that are not used for distribution requirements than for courses that are, and again more liberal for a first cognate than for a second). In general courses considering means other than philosophical argument (e.g. appeal to religious revelation, tradition, authority, faith) have been used to answer questions of a kind considered in philosophy, and courses considering philosophical works from a non-philosophical standpoint (e.g. as literary texts, emphasizing rhetorical style, or as historical documents, emphasizing external influences) are considered valuable supplements but not substitutes for philosophy courses, and hence not suitable as cognates.
Courses that have been routinely approved as cognates in recent years include: all courses listed under the Politics department as courses in political theory; most courses listed under the History department as courses in history of science; and a few courses listed under area studies programs covering those aspects of the intellectual history of certain non-Western civilizations that invite comparison with the history of philosophy in the West. Other courses may be approved on a case-by-case basis.