Bachelor of Arts
Philosophy teaches students to think more deeply and rationally about everything: how we ought to live, the sources and extent of knowledge, and the world and its nature. Philosophy asks thought-provoking questions about the mind, the self, God, free will, science, justice, and the Good Life. By engaging with challenging philosophical questions, students learn to think analytically and independently, and they develop excellent skills at critical thinking, reasoning, writing, and communication.
Philosophy majors at Coastal benefit from small classes, supportive faculty, and a close-knit community of students. They also have opportunities to participate in student clubs, internships, study abroad, experiential learning, and leadership programs.
Studying philosophy is good preparation for any kind of career, including careers in business, medicine, science, law, public policy, education…anything where good thinking and good reasoning is required.
(For more, see the American Philosophical Association's "Philosophy: A Brief Guide for Undergraduates.")
The Student Experience
One learns the basics of philosophy through introductory-level courses like Introduction to Philosophy or Introduction to Ethics. Students learn basic reasoning skills from our Introduction to Logic course. These intro-level classes also satisfy CCU’s Core Curriculum requirements. Our foundation course in Philosophical Writing builds skills in analytical and argumentative writing.
Learning about philosophy also includes learning about the history of philosophy. The major requires courses in Ancient Philosophy (on the ancient Greek philosophers, including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle) and Modern Philosophy (on 17th and 18th-Century philosophers like René Descartes and John Locke). We also have courses in medieval philosophy and 20th-Century analytic philosophy.
Philosophy also includes the study of ethics (How should we live?) and political philosophy (How should we govern ourselves?). Students may take many courses here, including Contemporary Moral Issues, Social and Political Philosophy, Political Ethics, Sports Ethics, Philosophical Issues in Feminism, Philosophy of Race and Gender, Bio-Medical Ethics, Business Ethics, and Ethical Theory.
Our philosophy students also learn to reflect on the nature of the world and our knowledge of it, and they learn a highly refined understanding of logic. Our courses in metaphysics and epistemology include stand-alone courses in those subjects, as well as several “philosophy of…” courses, such as philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, aesthetics and philosophy of art, and philosophy of religion. In addition to the introductory logic course for the foundation, our students also take an upper-level course in Symbolic Logic.
Develop meaningful and useful skills
A central component of the philosophy major is developing skills that will help students succeed in their careers and in their lives. In particular, philosophy students learn to:
- Formulate and evaluate arguments
- Raise and respond to objections
- Analyze concepts
- Recognize fallacies
- Construct and employ thought experiments
- Consider alternative points of view
- Discuss controversial topics reasonably and fairly
- Identify and propose solutions to problems
- Explain complex issues
- Think rationally, critically, and creatively
- Express arguments clearly in writing
Participate in student-led clubs and activities
Philosophy students can enjoy a number of socially and intellectually engaging clubs on campus, such as the honor society Phi Sigma Tau, the Philosophy Club, the Coastal Humanists, Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, and Students Taking Active Responsibility (STAR).
Explore non-traditional learning opportunities
We encourage our philosophy students to participate in the diverse learning experiences offered at Coastal. Our students have had local, national, and international internships, traveled to learn in study abroad programs, and participated in experiential learning courses. Additionally, many philosophy courses can be taken online to provide students with flexibility in their academic careers. The department and the Jackson Family Center for Ethics and Values host talks by faculty from Coastal and from other universities, which enrich the intellectual experience for students.
Get involved in leadership opportunities
Prepare for advanced study
Philosophy majors tend to do very well on the placement tests required for graduate programs, and they are well-prepared to do graduate coursework in law, business, and medicine. Our students have presented papers at undergraduate conferences, been panelists at campus talks, and worked as tutors in the department. (For information on how philosophy students have performed on graduate school admissions tests, see these pages from the APA: LSAT, GRE.)
Prepare for life beyond the University
Philosophy majors have the skills, knowledge, and mindset to be active and engaged employees and citizens. They are comfortable in challenging situations, and they can creatively and thoughtfully solve problems. They are skilled communicators and excellent writers. They are guided by reason and by morality. Philosophers have what it takes to be successful in all walks of life.
Sample Four Year Plan
Dennis Earl, Ph.D.
Department Chair and Professor of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies