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Bachelor of Arts

Philosophy teaches students to think more deeply and rationally about everything: the world and its nature, knowledge and where it comes from, and what’s morally right and wrong. Philosophy asks thought-provoking questions about the mind, the self, God, free will, science, justice, and the Good Life. By engaging with philosophical questions, students learn to think analytically and independently, and they develop good 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.

The Student Experience

One learns the basics of philosophy through introductory-level courses like Introduction to Philosophy or Introduction to Ethics. Learning basic reasoning skills come from taking Logic and Critical Thinking. Our course in Philosophical Writing helps build skills in analytical and argumentative writing. These courses also help satisfy CCU’s Core Curriculum requirements.

Learning about philosophy also includes learning about the history of philosophy. We regularly offer 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 ethics and political philosophy. We offer 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.

Students of philosophy also need to reflect on the nature of the world and our knowledge of it, as well as needing a more 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, and philosophy of religion. Our students also take a 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
  • Propose solutions to problems
  • Write clear, and well-reasoned papers
  • Explain complex issues
  • Think rationally, critically, and creatively

Participate in student-led clubs and activities

Philosophy students 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

Philosophy students are encouraged to participate in the diverse learning experiences offered at Coastal. Our students have had local and national 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 philosophy department hosts talks by faculty from Coastal and from other universities, which enrich the intellectual experience for students.

Get involved in leadership opportunities

Philosophy students have been successful members of the Student Government Association (SGA), the Jackson Scholar Ethics Program, and the Edwards College Fellows Program.

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 philosophy, law, medicine, and business. Our students have presented papers at undergraduate conferences, been panelists at campus talks, and worked as tutors in the department.

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

For course information, visit the University Catalog »


Dennis Earl, Ph.D.
Department Chair and Associate Professor
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
ACO2 327