Philosophy Major and Minor

Philosophy majors and minors at Haverford are part of an active community of faculty and students committed to exploring the ideas on which we base our understanding of reason, value, and our very existence.

Majors and minors develop a familiarity with key concepts, figures, and texts in philosophy and a facility with a range of critical and analytical skills—those particular to the discipline, as well as those that apply to all facets of liberal arts and to issues that arise in every area of our lives.

Curriculum & Courses

Our faculty reflects the rich diversity of the discipline’s methods, approaches, and subject matter. Their strong commitment to engaging our students—through exceptional research opportunities as well as by creating an open and collaborative environment for the investigation and exchange of ideas—is a hallmark of the department.

We offer a range of classes—from those that cover the history of philosophy to those that explore subfields such as ethics, philosophy of the mind, aesthetics, and philosophy of logic and language. Each of our classes fosters in our students the ability to read philosophical texts critically, to engage in productive discussions as listeners and contributors, and to communicate their ideas clearly and persuasively.

Majors begin with an introductory level course of their choice (one is required), then move on to 200- and 300-level courses (eight are required). Of the eight, one must cover the history of European philosophy prior to Kant and three must cover a series of specific topics (including value theory, metaphysics and epistemology, and logic/philosophy of language.) In addition, at least four of the eight required courses must fall under a coherent theme or subject. In their final year, majors participate in Senior Seminar and produce a Senior Thesis.

Minors also begin with an introductory level course of their choice (one is required), then move on to 200- and 300-level courses (five are required). Of the five, one must cover value theory, one must address metaphysics and epistemology, and one must include philosophical texts written before the 20th century.

The program is enriched by an array of extra- and co-curricular programs that bring faculty, students, as well as leading academics from around the world together to examine philosophical issues. For students, these are extraordinary opportunities to take part in the broader philosophy community.

  • Major

    • One philosophy course at the 100 level, or Bryn Mawr Philosophy 101, 102, or 201, or the equivalent elsewhere.
    • Five philosophy courses at the 200 level, at least four of which must be completed by the end of the junior year, and three philosophy courses at the 300 level.
    • The Senior Seminar (399A and 399B).

    The eight courses at the 200 and 300 level must furthermore satisfy the following requirements:

    • Historical: One course must be from among those that deal with the history of European philosophy prior to Kant.
    • Topical breadth:  
      • One course must be from among those that deal with value theory, including ethics, aesthetics, social and political philosophy, and legal philosophy.  
      • One course must be from among those that deal with metaphysics and epistemology, including ontology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, and philosophy of action.  
      • One course must be from among those that deal with logic, the philosophy of literature, and/or the philosophy of language.
    • Systematic coherence: Four of these courses, two at the 200 level and two at the 300 level, must exhibit some systematic coherence in theme or subject satisfactory to the major advisor and department.

    Students who elect to major in philosophy but are unable to comply with normal requirements because of special circumstances should consult the chairperson regarding waivers or substitutions.

    Majors are also encouraged to be discussion leaders in their senior year.

  • Minor

    • One philosophy course at the 100 level, or Bryn Mawr Philosophy 101, 102, or 201, or the equivalent elsewhere.
    • Three philosophy courses at the 200 level.
    • Two philosophy courses at the 300 level.

    Among the 200- and 300-level courses: one must be in value theory (broadly conceived to include ethics, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and legal philosophy), one must be in metaphysics and epistemology (including ontology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of action), and one must be concerned with philosophical texts written before the twentieth century. This third requirement can be satisfied concurrently with either of the other two (e.g., by taking a course in ancient ethics, or in Descartes’ metaphysics), or can be satisfied separately from the other two.

Research & Outreach

After Graduation

Keep Exploring

More Programs

Check out our other academic offerings:

Get in Touch

Join the Mailing List or search for events in your area.

You can find detailed instructions and information on the Application Instructions page. If you need to contact us directly, please send an email to admission@haverford.edu.

Contact Us