The Philosophy Program

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy literally means the love of wisdom. To love wisdom is to take seriously your most profound questions, to refuse to accept blindly the appearances of things and to reflect on the standards offered to you by the surrounding culture.

A major in philosophy teaches you to read, think, and converse at the highest and deepest levels. It liberates you from being intimidated by difficult ideas. It also puts you into contact with some of the greatest minds of our own and other cultures, while also promoting your capacity to discover new thinkers and ideas beyond the classroom.

Saint Vincent College allows you to major in philosophy with flexible concentration options. We welcome students interested in a philosophy minor. But we also encourage you just to take a few of our courses and see what we have to contribute to the liberation that ought to be at the heart of your liberal arts education.

What Can I Do With a Major in Philosophy?

Philosophical training develops skills of thinking, reading and writing well, which will be of tremendous value in seeking jobs in a wide range of fields including business, education and politics. Some of our majors do pursue graduate study in philosophy, but this is not the only possibility.

Philosophy majors do very well in applying to law school and medical school. They consistently earn some of the highest scores on graduate school entrance exams.

The study of philosophy expands your career options.  Visit our Facebook page to learn about our events, faculty, and students.

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Results

Graduates with a philosophy degree have a sound historical knowledge of the field and are able to critically engage the world with solid analytic abilities and imaginative, synthetic solutions to problems which present themselves. They are prepared to offer both abstract analyses as well as concrete proposals. They are independent learners and prepared to begin graduate studies in the humanities, social sciences or law. 

Examples of our graduates’ vocational paths:

  1. Medical
    • Dentist
    • Optometrist
    • Anesthesiologist
    • Epidemiology Field Coordinator
  2. Law/Government
    • Judge
    • Lawyer
    • State Policeman
    • Inspector, Casino Control Commission
    • Library Director
    • Probation Officer
  3. Military
    • Communications Operations Specialist, Naval Intelligence
    • Nuclear Mechanic with the U.S. Navy
  4. Business
    • Financial Analyst at New York Stock Exchange
    • Software Engineer
    • Vice President, PNC Financial Services Group
    • Certified Public Accountant
    • Professional Writer
    • Chef
    • Manufacturing Plant Manager
    • Marketing Consultant
  5. Education/Research
    • High School Principal
    • High School Teacher
    • College Professor
    • President of St. Vincent College
    • Senior Research Chemist
  6. Ministry
    • Priest
    • Monk
    • Youth Ministry Director
  7. Non-Profit
    • Associate Director, U.S. Peace Corps
    • Bereavement Coordinator/Counselor
    • Coordinator, YMCA of Pittsburgh
    • Crisis Case Worker

Examples of Graduate Programs our Alumni Have Attended:

  • Princeton University (PhD, Philosophy)
  • Villanova University (MA, Theology)
  • College of William & Mary (JD, Law)
  • Arizona State University (PhD, Sustainability)
  • Catholic University of America (PhD, Philosophy)
  • Cleveland State University (Master of Science)

 

Testimonials from Recent Graduates:

“I was a science major and I knew that a life of lab work was not going to be as meaningful to me as tackling more complex questions of sustainability, out in the field. Also, sustainability practice requires pointing a critical lens at the status quo to see which operations are worth saving and which are problematic. Because no cases are alike in all ways, sustainability requires adapting pitches and solutions to new audiences and new cases. The theoretical work in philosophy classes (especially ethics) gave me a strong foundation to inform my later work in business and applied research. I always portray sustainability as philosophy in action.”

~Jacob Bethem (currently completing his PhD in Sustainability at Arizona State University)

“I invented the position I have, and I help businesses identify the 'true' value that they offer, capture that value in a message they can share with others, and then reach the people who stand to benefit the most from what they offer. I never would have imagined myself in a field like this, but studying philosophy inadvertently led me to it. I did not do focused study in computer science, marketing, or business, but I found that the skills I learned in philosophy allowed me to teach myself what I needed to know once I settled on a career.  By applying the things I learned at St. Vincent, I've been able to completely change the way the people I've worked with approach their businesses for the better.”

~Dylan Heagy, Marketing Consultant (Self-Employed)

“"What is the law?" and "What is law?" are two very different questions.  The former is asked of lawyers on a daily basis, as clients want to know the laws that apply to their cases.  The latter requires a philosophical investigation into the nature of law in general.  Studying philosophy has made me a better lawyer because the answer to what the law is in any particular case depends vitally on the answer to what the law is in general.”

~Ryan Rozanksi, JD (Quarles & Brady LLP, Phoenix, AZ)

Curriculumphilosophy-curriculum
Requirements for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy

Requirements for the Major: (33 credits)
33 credits in Philosophy, structured in the following way*
(These are in addition to the Core requirement of 1st Philosophy PL 101):
PL 120 Logic - 3 credits 
PL 201 Ancient Philosophy - 3 credits
PL 202 Medieval  Philosophy - 3 credits
PL 203 Modern Philosophy - 3 credits
PL 204 Kant and His Successors - 3 credits or
     PL 206 19th and 20th Century Philosophy - 3 credits
PL 215 Ethics - 3 credits
PL 440 Senior Capstone Exam or
     PL 450  Senior Thesis - 3 credits
Four courses chosen in consultation with the student's adviser from the course offerings of the Philosophy Department. - 12 credits

Typically, this would include PL 220 Theories of Knowledge and PL 230 Metaphysics. Students would also generally choose at least two courses from the following: PL 210 Philosophical Anthropology, PL 280 Thomistic Philosophy, PL 235 Philosophy of God and PL 245 Philosophy of Science. Students wishing to extend their study of ethics are encouraged to enroll in PL 216 Ethical Problems, PL 217 Environmental Ethics or PL 218 Bioethics.

*Those applying for graduate studies in philosophy are also required to complete PL 250 Symbolic Logic.  All other majors are strongly encouraged to complete this course. 

Electives: An appropriate choice of electives in fields outside of philosophy can add considerable focus to the study of philosophy. For this reason the Department requires the choice of electives to be done in close consultation with the student's adviser. Language studies and accompanying foreign study are especially encouraged.

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Semester Review

Having chosen to pursue a degree in philosophy, each student will meet with his or her adviser to review the work of the previous semester.  This is generally done each January for the previous fall semester and in September for the previous spring semester.                                                      

As a part of this review, students will evaluate their own performance in a guided, written statement. This statement functions primarily as a resume of work in the major, but extra-departmental work may also be assessed. During the review, students present two pieces of written work from the previous semester, at least one of which will be from a philosophy course (provided that the student had taken a course in the field the previous semester).

Senior Capstone Projectphilosophy-senior-capstone
Senior Capstone Project

Each philosophy major is required to complete a Senior Capstone Project during their junior or senior year at the college. There are two options for the project: a senior thesis or a senior capstone examination. The student and their faculty adviser will decide which of these two options are appropriate based on each student's aims, interests and plans after graduation.

Students work with their faculty advisers to form a Senior Thesis or Examination Committee and choose a topic for the project. The student, with the guidance of the committee, plans the project and carries out the basic research.   

Students who choose the capstone exam will take the exam at the end of the semester in which they are enrolled in PL 440 Senior Capstone Exam. A passing grade completes this project; a failing grade requires the student to retake the course and the exam the following semester.

Students who choose the senior thesis will complete a polished draft of the thesis, to be submitted to the Committee for comments, during the semester in which they are enrolled in PL 450 Senior Thesis. The Thesis Committee evaluates the finished Senior Thesis. By the last week of classes before graduation, each student will give an oral presentation of the project to departmental faculty and students, responding to questions and comments.

Internships and Careers

Students who complete the Philosophy program may be employed or continue their education as:

  • Teachers
  • Researchers
  • Academic Affairs specialists
  • Paralegals
  • Government workers
  • Clergy and religious leaders
  • Administrators/managers
  • Technical writers and editors
  • Graduate school students
  • Student Learning Outcomes

    The Philosophy Department helps its students achieve the following goals:

    • Explain, accurately and charitably, significant philosophical ideas and arguments of particular ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary philosophers.
    • Use logic and critical reasoning to analyze arguments, and evaluate positions that they encounter outside of the classroom.
    • Explain ethical theories and apply them to problems of ethical significance.
    • Integrate philosophical ideas from diverse sources, including other disciplines and their own experience, into original philosophical work.
    • Complete independent philosophical scholarship and present this work in writing and in oral presentation.