Undergraduate Programs

This page provides an overview as well as the requirements for each of the undergraduate programs offered by the School of Philosophy.

Overview

The School of Philosophy offers courses in most areas of philosophy, including epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of art, social, legal and political philosophy, as well as the history of philosophy, both ancient and modern. The School of Philosophy offers three kinds of programs.

Double majors are encouraged, but to do this a student must work in close consultation with the undergraduate adviser. Strong philosophy majors are also encouraged to do philosophy with honors. There are also various philosophy minors available. The descriptions and requirements for each of these programs are provided below.

Equally important to each of the programs is the development of the skills necessary for rigorous, critical, and independent thought. Philosophy majors should graduate with the ability (i) to independently read and comprehend philosophical texts, so as to identify and state the central theses of these texts, and to reconstruct the key arguments in favor of these theses, (ii) to critically evaluate arguments, uncovering their hidden assumptions and assessing the soundness of the premises and the logical relations between the premises and the conclusion, (iii) to defend their own point of view by formulating valid arguments and anticipating and responding to objections, and (iv) to communicate effectively in speaking and in writing, demonstrating clarity, precision and rigor.

Major in Philosophy

The major in philosophy is designed to acquaint students with the fundamental problems that are debated within western philosophical thought, and to introduce them to the concepts and techniques necessary for independent philosophical thinking. It is equally intended to provide a broadening perspective for the various areas of specialization in the natural and social sciences and in literature and the arts. Requirements.

 

Major in Philosophy, Politics, and Law

This is a special interdisciplinary major offered by the School of Philosophy. Although this major differs somewhat in its requirements from the regular major, it is designed (i) to foster an understanding and appreciation of some of the major milestones in the history of Western thought, (ii) to introduce students to leading approaches to ethical, legal, and political problems, and (iii) to acquaint them with one or more broad area of philosophical thought that bears on these issues – including epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of action, and philosophy of mind. Check out a video about this unique major here:

This interdisciplinary major is unique of its kind in the country, and should be of particular interest to students contemplating post-graduate work in law; those interested in a career in public service or politics; and those attracted by the rigor of philosophy, and its attention to foundational issues, who are also interested in politics and law. Requirements.

Combined Major in Linguistics and Philosophy

The school of philosophy also takes part in the Combined Major in Linguistics and Philosophy, which allows students to draw on world-class strengths in linguistics as well as in the philosophy of language at USC. This major is primarily administered by the Linguistics Department. See the Requirements on the Linguistics website.

Undergraduate Program Requirements

Major in Philosophy Requirements

The major in philosophy requires at least eight courses in philosophy. To achieve the major, at least six of the courses must be numbered 300 or higher, and at least one of the courses must be a Gateway Course (Phil 300, 315, 320, 340, 360), and it must be taken before any 400 level course. These courses must satisfy the following distribution requirements:

 
1 History of Philosophy At least one course must be from History of Philosophy: PHIL 315, 320, 345, 410, 411, 415, 421, 422, 423, 424, 427, 434.
1 Ethics, Law &
Value Theory
At least one course must be from Ethics, Law and Value Theory: PHIL 330, 335, 337, 340, 345, 430, 437, 440, 442
1 Systematic Philosophy At least one course must be from Systematic Philosophy: PHIL 350, 351, 352, 360, 385, 427, 428, 460, 462, 463, 465, 470, 480, 485, 486.

Furthermore, we strongly encourage students to make at least one of their philosophy courses a logic course (PHIL 250ab, 350, 351, or 352).

Capstone Seminar. In their senior year, strong philosophy majors may also enjoy taking a Capstone Seminar, either PHIL-471 (Metaphysics and Epistemology) or PHIL-472 (Moral Philosophy). Enrollment in these seminars will not exceed 15 students, and requires that the following be satisfied: A course in logic (PHIL 250ab, 350, 351 or 352), at least one 400-level course in philosophy, and have a GPA in philosophy of 3.0 or above. Students who are enrolled in one of the minors in philosophy may enroll in a Capstone Seminar only with the permission of the instructor.

Major in Philosophy, Politics, and Law Requirements

The major in Philosophy, Politics and Law requires the completion of nine courses in various disciplines. At least one of the courses must be a Gateway Course (Phil 300, 315, 320, 340, 360), and it must be taken before any 400 level course. These courses must satisfy the following distribution requirements:

Major in Philosophy, Politics & Law: 9 Courses Required
1 Lower-Division One lower division course from the following list: PHIL 135g, 140g, 141g, 262g, POSC 130g.
1 Logic One course in logic: PHIL 350, 351, 352.
1 Philosophy of Law One course in the Philosophy of Law: PHIL 430, 431.
2 Moral & Political Philosophy Either one additional course in Moral and Political Philosophy: PHIL 335, 337, 340, 437, 440, 442, 443.
History Or one course in the history of philosophy (PHIL 300, 315, 317, 320, 423, 426, 427, 428)
Systematic Or one course in a systematic area of philosophy (PHIL 360, 462, 463, 465, 470)
1 Constitutional Politics One course in constitutional politics: POSC 335, 340, 426, 444.
1 Comp/Intl. Politics & Law One course in comparative or international politics and law: ANTH 345, POSC 345, 440, 448a.
1 Politics, Law & Public Policy One course in Politics, Law, and Public Policy: POSC 347, 395, 443, 452, SWMS 349
1 Gould School One course from the Gould School of Law: LAW 300.

For further details please contact the School of Philosophy Faculty Advisor for this program, Professor Andrei Marmor, at amarmor@law.usc.edu. For a more detailed explanation of the requirements see the course catalog.

Major in Philosophy or PPL with Honors

Students considering the possibility of continuing their education at the graduate level in philosophy or similar disciplines, or students who wish to undertake a more intensive course of study in philosophy, including original independent research, are strongly encouraged to take the Major with Honors.

The major in Philosophy or PPL with Honors requires the completion of the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy or PPL, with the following additional requirements.

Additional Requirements for Philosophy or PPL Major with Honors
Capstone Seminar Honors Students must take a capstone seminar, having completed the prerequisites for taking it.
Senior Thesis Honors students must take PHIL 494 (Senior Thesis) during the fall term of their senior year, in addition to the 8 courses required for the normal philosophy major. The senior thesis will be graded by the student's advisor and another member of the School of Philosophy, following an oral defense. The senior thesis must be completed with a grade of B or higher.
3.5 GPA Honors Students must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher in their philosophy courses.

Students who intend to major in Philosophy or PPL with Honors are encouraged to enroll in the program during their sophomore year (but no later than the end of the first term of their junior year), and should consult the faculty advisor for the Honors program on a continuous basis.

Combined Major in Linguistics and Philosophy Requirements

The Combined Major in Linguistics and Philosophy is administered by the Linguistics Department; visit their site for to see the requirements for the combined major.

Combined Major in Linguistics and Philosophy with Honors

Intent to complete the major with honors should be registered with the undergraduate advisor no later than the second semester of the junior year. The combined major in linguistics and philosophy with honors requires the student to complete the following additional requirements.

Additional Req's for Combined Major in Linguistics & Philosophy with Honors
Senior Thesis Honors students must take either PHIL 494 (Senior Thesis) or LING 497 (Honors Thesis) in addition to the other requirements for the major. The senior thesis must be completed with a grad of B or higher.
3.5 GPA Honors Students must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher in their philosophy courses.

Minor Requirements

The School of Philosophy offers four minors: The Minor in Ethics and Moral Philosophy, the Minor in Philosophy, the Minor in Critical Approaches to Leadership, and the Minor in Philosophy for Business, Law, and the Professions. The requirements for each minor are described below.

Minor in Ethics and Moral Philosophy

The aim of this minor is to provide students headed for medicine, biology, psychology and other health care professions with a broad humanistic perspective not found in professional education and the critical tools to deal with the ethical issues that may arise in their professional lives.

Students are required to take five courses in philosophy, at least four of which must be upper-division. These courses must satisfy the category requirements below. Students must take at least one lower-division or 300-level course before taking any 400-level courses.

Ethics and Moral Philosophy Minor: 5 Courses Required
1 Course of Your Choice One course is your choice, either upper division (300 or higher) or lower division (below 300).
4 Upper-Division At least six of the courses must be upper-division (i.e. 300 or higher) level.
These 5 courses must satisfy the Category Requirements:
1 Ethics, History of Ethics and Value Theory One course must be from the following: PHIL 140, 141, 340, 361, 430, 431, 440, 442
1 Systematic Philosophy One course course must be from the following: PHIL 262, 360, 385, 427, 428, 460, 462, 465, 470

 

Minor in Philosophy

The minor in philosophy requires the completion of five philosophy courses, at least four of which are upper-division courses. All minors must take a gateway course — PHIL 315, PHIL 320, PHIL 340, or PHIL 360 — before enrolling in any 400-level course.

The minor in philosophy requires the completion of five philosophy courses, which satisfy the following criteria.

Philosophy Minor: 5 Courses Required
1 Gateway Course One course must be a Gateway Course: PHIL-315, 320, 340, or 360. One of these must be taken before taking any 400-level courses.
4 Upper-Division At least four of the courses must be upper-division (i.e. 300 or higher) level.
These 5 courses must satisfy the Distribution Requirements:
1 History of Philosophy At least one course must be from History of Philosophy: PHIL 315, 320, 345, 410, 411, 415, 421, 422, 423, 424, 427, 434.
1 Ethics, Law &
Value Theory
At least one course must be from Ethics, Law and Value Theory: PHIL 330, 335, 337, 340, 345, 430, 437, 440, 442
1 Systematic Philosophy At least one course must be from Systematic Philosophy: PHIL 350, 351, 352, 360, 385, 427, 428, 460, 462, 463, 465, 470, 480, 485, 486.

 

Minor in Critical Approaches to Leadership

See Interdisciplinary Studies.

 

Minor in Philosophy for Business, Law, and the Professions

The aim of this minor is to provide students headed for business, law or the professions a strong set of critical, analytic and expository skills, while providing them with a broad humanistic perspective not found in professional education.

Students are required to take five courses, at least four of which must be upper division. They must take one course from each of the following categories (1-4), and one additional course from either category 2 or 3. Students must take at least one lower-division or 300-level course before taking any 400-level courses.

Philosophy Minor for Philosophy for Business, Law, and the Professions: 5 Courses Required
1 Course of Your Choice One course is your choice, either upper division (300 or higher) or lower division (below 300).
4 Upper-Division At least four of the courses must be upper-division (i.e. 300 or higher) level.
These 5 courses must satisfy the Distribution Requirements:
1 Logic PHIL 350, PHIL 351, or PHIL 352
1 Law, Leadership, and the Professions PHIL 140, PHIL 340, PHIL 345, PHIL 361, PHIL 440, or PHIL 442
1 Ethics, History of Ethics, and Value PHIL 140, PHIL 340, PHIL 345, PHIL 361, PHIL 440, or PHIL 442
1 Systematic Philosophy PHIL 262, PHIL 360, PHIL 385, PHIL 427, PHIL 428, PHIL 460, PHIL 462, PHIL 465, or PHIL 470
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