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  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Minor

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, and to live an examined life in pursuit of the Truth that sets one free.

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. Finally, philosophy is at the heart of the Catholic intellectual tradition, for, as St. John Paul II put it, "faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth."

Saint Vincent College allows you to major in philosophy with flexible concentration options. We welcome students interested in a philosophy minor or in our classical thought minor. But we also encourage you just to take a few of our courses and see what we have to contribute to the liberation of living in the Truth 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.  Watch our webinar for more information about our programs. Visit our Facebook page and Instagram page to learn about our events, faculty, and students.

Curriculum Requirements

  • Requirements for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy

    Requirements for the Major: (33 credits)
    33 credits in Philosophy, structured in the following way:
    PL 120 Logic 3
    PL 121 Logic and Theory of Knowledge 3
    PL 201 Ancient Philosophy 3
    PL 202 Medieval Philosophy 3
    PL 203 Modern Philosophy 3
    PL 204 Kant and His Successors 3
    PL 206 19th- and 20th-Century Philosophy 3
    PL 215 Ethics 3
    PL 400 Socratic Seminar 3 1-credit classes
    PL 440 or 450 Senior Capstone Exam or Thesis 3

    In addition to the 24 credits in these courses, 9 credits of work in three further courses (either designated core courses or philosophy electives), chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor from the course offerings of the Philosophy Department.
  • 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 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.

  • Requirements for a Minor in Classical Thought

    The modes of thought developed in the classical world are of vital interest to our self-understanding as members of a Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts community. The Catholic intellectual tradition’s respect for the integration of faith and reason led the early church to build upon the philosophical schools of thought in the Greco-Roman world. As the Church spread throughout the world, the native and seminal wisdoms of other civilizations provided fertile fields for inculturation that are still vital today. Saint Benedict received an education rooted in this classical world. While he found it necessary to flee Rome in his spiritual journey, he ended up calling Rome to him with the founding of his monasteries and their educational apostolates. Finally, the very idea of a liberal arts education is a fruit of the classical world’s insistence that the “unexamined life is not worth living,” and thus that the cultivation of the intellect is worthy of pursuit for its own sake. Students interested in the classical world and in teaching or working at a classical school will find this minor an edifying addition to their course of studies at Saint Vincent.

    Requirements for a Minor in Classical Thought (21-27 credits depending on previous Latin competency) 

    PL-102 Art of Socratic Dialogue 3 credits

    PL-121 Logic and Theory of Knowledge 3 credits

    PL-201 Ancient Philosophy 3 credits

    HI-102 Ancient Greece and Rome 3 credits

    LT-101 Elementary Latin I 3 credits*

    LT-102 Elementary Latin II 3 credits*

    ED-232 Introduction to Classical Education 3 credits+


    2 Electives in Classical Texts from the following: 6 credits


    AR-101 Caves to Cathedrals (3 credits)

    EL-210 Classical Greek Poetry and Drama (3 credits)

    PL-262 Music and the Soul (3 credits)

    PL-303 Eastern Thought (3 credits)

    PL-305 Special Topics (3 credits)

    TH-201-209 (3 credits each)

    TH-310 Theology of Eastern Christianity (3 credits)

    PS-135 Classical Political Thought (3 credits)

    PL-273/PS-235 Roman Political Thought (3 credits)


    * Students may test out of these courses

    + Offered every other spring in odd-numbered years


Program Highlights


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)

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.