Concentration Requirements

 For juniors and seniors, course selections and changes are approved by the director of undergraduate studies (henceforth DUS, formerly called “departmental representative,” a title that may still be found on some older University and department forms) 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 DUS at course selection time, at least by e-mail, and the following are required to do so: sophomores entering the department; fall seniors selecting spring senior courses; spring seniors dropping departmental courses. What follows is a description of the department’s normal course requirements. Students with especially good educational reasons to seek exceptions may petition the faculty members of the department’s Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

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 three courses may be lower division, that is, 200-level or lower, including freshman seminars taught by department faculty. (Though reading courses formally have numbers in the 90s, they count as 300-level or higher.) Normally six out of the eight courses must be so distributed that there are two in each of three of the four areas into which philosophy courses are divided (M metaphysics; V ethics and philosophy of value; L logic and philosophy of science; H history of philosophy); there is no such restriction on the remaining two out of the eight. The area classification of most department courses is listed in the Undergraduate Announcement; for other courses (one-time-only, reading courses, cognates in other departments) the classification will be made by the DUS in consultation with the instructor as appropriate.

Up to two courses in other departments may be counted as cognates, if approved by the DUS as contributing significantly to the student's course of study; these must normally be courses completed before spring semester senior year (grades for courses outside the department are generally not available to the department in time to include them in calculating the average on which honors are based, and such grades are treated like those for courses taken at other institutions, which are never included in averages at the University or department level). Cognates may not be used for both courses in a distribution area.

In general, courses considering means other than philosophical argument (e.g. appeal to religious revelation, tradition, authority, faith) that 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: Various courses taught by associated faculty of the department (listed on the department website) and described by them as philosophical in content; POL courses labeled political theory by the politics department in the statement of its requirements for its majors in the Undergraduate Announcement; certain courses in intellectual history having philosophical content that the department is not in position to cover itself, especially EAS 415 and GER 210 and AAS 201.

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 two 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 and philosophy of value area, and two courses in some one other philosophy area to fulfill distribution requirements; students are allowed one additional cognate beyond the politics courses. The philosophy of science option involves using two of 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 and philosophy of science area, and two courses in some one other philosophy area to fulfill distribution requirements; students are allowed one additional cognate beyond the science courses.. Variations for students going on study abroad are approved by the DUS on a case-by-case basis as part of the study abroad approval process for the individual student.

The Office of the Dean of the College no longer permits undergraduates to enroll in graduate seminars, but the effect of so doing can still be achieved indirectly. The student must propose — the University form for such proposals is obtainable from residential college deans — a reading course that just happens to have the same instructor as, meet at the same time as, and cover the same readings as, the graduate seminar. The form must be signed by the instructor, who must also supply a syllabus and a statement of how undergraduates will be graded, for approval by the dean’s office. (The form also calls for the signatures of the department chair and the DUS, but the department manager can sign for them.)

The normal University rule is that courses taken on a PDF basis cannot be counted as departmentals. This rule was suspended for Spring and Fall semesters of 2020.

**For additional useful information and resources please see the comprehensive Department of Philosophy Handbook for Concentrators.