Philosophy Advising Guide

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What is Philosophy?

Philosophy is a discipline that relies upon reason, logic and experience to formulate, analyze, and answer many of life’s most important and fundamental questions:

  • What is the ultimate nature of reality?
  • What is good and right in human affairs?
  • What distinguishes knowledge from mere belief?
  • Can we ever have certainty?
  • How is thought and consciousness possible if the universe is only physical matter?
  • Is there a divine reality beyond ordinary experience, and how could we know it if so?
  • Could there be purpose, perhaps even meaning, to life?

The world’s philosophical traditions have deep insights to offer in response to each of these questions, and the Philosophy Department at the University of South Alabama consists of knowledgeable, experienced, and friendly faculty members who love discussing and exploring these issues with interested students.

 

Career Opportunities in Philosophy

One of the first questions prospective philosophy majors (and sometimes their parents) ask is this: What can you do with a philosophy degree?

The answer: Just about anything you want.

Philosophy is one of the best majors you can take for a professional career. How do we know this? By looking at the data.

To start, consider how philosophy majors do on pre-professional exams such as the GRE (the Graduate Record Exam), the GMAT (the Graduate Management Admissions Test), and the LSAT (the Law School Admissions Test).

Here are scores for the GRE

https://www.nmu.edu/philosophy/sites/DrupalPhilosophy/files/UserFiles/GRE_by_Intended_Major_2012_Data.pdf

Philosophy intended majors are the top scoring overall among all majors.

The LSAT

http://www.potsdam.edu/sites/default/files/documents/academics/AAS/Phil/LSAT-Scores-of-Majors.pdf

Philosophy majors consistently appear at or near the top of this test to get into law school.

And the GMAT

Graduate Management Admissions Test- Average by Major

Philosophy majors are in the top five majors for this test to get into MBA school -- and they significantly outperform all business majors!

Philosophy is concerned with a wide range of issues. Consequently, a philosophy major can be combined very nicely with a concentration in some other area you're interested in. One way to do this is simply to take a set of courses related to this other area. Another way would be to double major, adding a major in the other area to your philosophy major. Alternatively, you could just minor in the other area. (If you do a double major, you do not also have to do a minor.)

Here are some examples of what you can do, many of which can also help to satisfy the general education requirements:            

Philosophy and:                

* Religion: Phil. of Religion, World Religions, Sociology of Religion, Reformation Europe (in HY).                

* Artificial Intelligence: Phil. of Mind, Symbolic Logic, relevant psych courses, e.g., Cognition, Psych. of Learning, relevant computer courses (e.g., Artificial Intelligence). Or you could take a minor or second major in Computer Science or Psychology.         

* Literary Criticism: Continental Philosophy, relevant courses in English and Foreign Languages. Or you could take a minor or second major in English or Foreign Languages.      

* Law, Politics, & Society (LP&S): There are several relevant philosophy courses (Social Ethics, Phil. of Law, Social-Political Phil.) and lots of possibilities in other departments. For instance: Public Policy, Political Thought, Constitutional Law (all in PSC); Social Problems, Sociology of Law, Urban Sociology (all in SY); Current Global Economic Issues, Economics of Urban Development (both in ECO). Or you could take a minor or second major in Political Science or Economics (either would be particularly good if you're thinking of law school).                

* Medicine: Social Ethics, Biomedical Ethics, Health and Culture (AN), Medicine and Society (SY), Health Psychology.        

* Social Science: Phil. of the Social and Natural Sciences and courses in the history and/or development of theories in psychology (in PSY), sociology (in SY), anthropology (in AN), and economics (in ECO), maybe combined with a minor or a second major in a social science.

 

Salary Trends in Philosophy

Okay, so philosophy majors do extremely well on tests. But do they actually make any money when they leave school?

Answer, yes. In particular, philosophy majors are tied (with math majors) for first place in median salary advancement in the years after college. Don't believe it? Take a look at this Wall Street Journal summary of Payscale Inc. salary data (click on "Percent Change from Starting to Mid-Career Salary" to see rates of salary growth by major):

Degrees that Pay You Back

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-Degrees_that_Pay_you_Back-sort.html

Note too in the above link that the mid-career median salary for philosophy majors is 16th out of all majors -- and ahead of many hard vocational majors such as nursing, information technology, business management, and chemistry.

Along the same lines, recent research compiled by Payscale.com, Bankrate.com, and TheRichest.com suggests those who major in humanities can go on to well-paying jobs. In fact, philosophy majors are #1 among humanities degrees in achieving a good income. As a recent Yahoo! article puts it: "I think, therefore I … make money!"

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/top-best-most/a-philosophy-degree-earns-more-than-an-accounting-degree-121403186.html#

Graduates with philosophy degrees have "higher earnings potential than many other arts and humanities-related fields," said TheRichest. Payscale reports midcareer median salaries are $84,000 for your modern day Kant or Descartes. Why? Well, let's be logical. Which is exactly what philosophy programs require of students … logic. Thinking is hard, it requires analysis, and those who can do it well can get a good job … which is a good philosophy to have.

Why are philosophy majors so successful? In part it is probably because our majors are bright people to start with. But in part it's also their training.  As a philosophy major you will develop many useful skills -- reading critically, writing cogently, doing research, formulating and evaluating arguments, interpreting, presenting, and examining differing positions. These are transferable skills which can take you into many different careers and which become more important as your working life develops.

 

High School Preparation

No special preparation is required.

 

How to Major in Philosophy

GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS FOR PHILOSOPHY MAJORS

General Education Requirements for Philosophy are specified on the College of Arts and Sciences section.

All first-time freshmen must successfully complete CAS 100: First Year Experience as a degree requirement. Students must enroll during their first term at USA, except for summer-entry students who must enroll in the fall semester following entry.

REQUIREMENTS FOR A MAJOR IN PHILOSOPHY

All majors in Philosophy, whether concentrating in Philosophy, in Classics, or in Religion, must complete 36 semester credit hours of course work, of which 18 hours (i.e., 50% of course work in their major) must be in the common core. In addition, all majors in Philosophy, whether concentrating in Philosophy, Religion, or Classics, must complete 15 semester hours of course work in the major at the 300 and/or 400 level. All Majors in Philosophy, whether concentrating in Philosophy, or in Classics, or in Religion, must either 1) Minor in another discipline, or 2) Minor in a different concentration offered by the Department of Philosophy.

The Common Core

  •     PHL 120 (Critical Thinking)
  •     PHL 240 (Western Philosophy: Classical and Medieval)
  •     PHL 245 (Western Philosophy: Renaissance/Enlightenment)
  •     PHL 321 (Symbolic Logic)
  •     PHL/REL/CLA/EH 310: (Classical Mythology)
  •     PHL/REL/CLA 461: (Metaphysics)

The following further courses are required for the Religion Concentration:

  • PHL/REL 352 (World Religions and/or PHL/REL 355 (Chinese Philosophy)
  • PHL/REL 351 (Philosophy of Religion) and/or PHL/REL 354 (Philosophies of India)
  • 0, 1, or 2 Additional Religion (REL) courses at the 300 or 400 level (depending on whether all four, three, or only two of the preceding courses are taken)
  • 2 REL courses at any level

The following further courses are required for the Philosophy Concentration:

  • PHL 431 (Advanced Ethical Theory) and/or PHL 441 (Epistemology)
  • 1 or 2 additional Philosophy (PHL) courses at the 300/400 level (depending on whether both or only one of the preceding courses are taken)
  • 1 more (PHL) course at any level
  • 2 CLA, PHL, or REL courses at the 300 or 400 level

The following further courses are required for the Classics Concentration:

  • CLA 304 (Ancient Greek Art and Architecture) and CL 306 (Roman Art)
  • CLA 311 (Political Philosophy I: Classical and Medieval) or CLA 454 (Ancient Greek Culture) or CLA 455 (Ancient Roman Culture)
  • 2 Additional Classics (CLA) courses at any level
  • 1 CLA, PHL, or REL course at the 300 or 400 level
  • Fulfill Foreign Language Requirement by taking 1 year of Latin or 1 year of Ancient Greek

No more than nine hours at the 100-level may be counted toward the hours required for the major; however, additional hours taken at this level can be counted toward the total number of hours required for graduation. Fifteen hours must be taken at the 300/400-level. PHL 240 and 245 do not have to be taken in sequence and should be taken early in the major. Credit for PHL 499, Honors Thesis, is only given as an addition to the hours required for the major. Credit for PHL 499, Honors Thesis, is only given as an addition to the hours required for the major.

REQUIREMENTS FOR A MINOR IN PHILOSOPHY

A minimum of 18 semester hours in Philosophy, to include a logic course (PHL 121 or 321). At least nine hours must be taken in residence. No more than two 100-level courses may be counted toward the minor.

REQUIREMENTS FOR A MINOR IN CLASSICS

A minimum of 18 hours must be taken in Classics (CLA) courses. At least two courses must be taken in residence. No more than two 100-level courses may be counted toward the Classics minor. Students minoring in Classics must fulfill the Foreign Language requirement by taking either 2 semesters of Latin or 2 semester of Ancient Greek.

REQUIREMENTS FOR A MINOR IN RELIGION

A minimum of 18 semester hours in Religion. No more than two 100 level may be counted toward the minor. At least one course must be taken from each of the following Groups: Group A, Humanities; Group B, History; and Group C, Social Science. No more than 9 hours of courses may be counted toward the minor from each of Group A, Group B, and Group C. 9 hours of coursework must be taken as REL courses. 9 hours of coursework must be taken at the 300 and/or 400 level at the University of South Alabama. (Note: Courses listed below with a slash, /, are cross-listed between two or more different disciplines: you can register and receive credit for one, but only one, discipline (e.g., in the case of REL/SY 420, you can register and receive credit for either, but not both, REL 429 or SY 420).

  • Group A, Humanities; REL/PHL/CLA/EH/LG 310; REL/PHL 351; REL/PHL 354; REL/PHL 355
  • Group B, History: HY/REL 331; HY 332; HY/REL 343; HY/REL 347; HY 351; HY 352; HY/REL 353; HY/REL 364; HY/REL 365; HY/REL 373; HY/REL 465
  • Group C, Social Science: SY/REL/PHL 352; SY/REL 420

Philosophy Majors can now fulfill the Minor requirement by taking one of the other concentrations offered.

Majors concentrating in Classics can fulfill the Minor requirement by using Philosophy or Religion concentration.

Majors concentrating in Philosophy can fulfill the Minor requirement by using Religion or Classics concentration.

Majors concentrating in Religion can fulfill the Minor requirement by using Philosophy or Classics concentration.

 

Special Programs, Co-ops, Internships

Internships and jobs, including part-time, summer, and co-op jobs. Internships or co-op jobs might involve working with a lawyer, a clergy man or woman, a religious, non-profit, or educational organization, a social welfare organization such as the Child Advocacy Center, Penelope House, or Catholic Social Services (to name just a few), a hospital, or whatever you can think up. If you're interested, see the Chair to work out the details. 

 

Study Abroad Opportunities

If you are interested in Classical Greek Philosophy, there is a scholarship available to help you study in Greece.

Studying abroad is an exciting and meaningful experience that will contribute to your academic and personal development.  Participating on a study abroad program can be one of the most profound decisions of your college life, and can lead to many new and interesting opportunities.  It can help develop your critical thinking skills, sense of independence, and confidence.  When you depart on your study abroad program, you will go with excitement, trepidation, and uncertainty about the world and your place in it.  When you return home, your deep connection and affection for your host culture will be overwhelming, and will only be matched by a newfound respect and appreciation for your home.

Study abroad is the opportunity for USA students to spend time in a different country while earning credit towards your degree through taking classes, interning, volunteering, and more.  There are many different types of study abroad available to you at USA. They include faculty-led programs, international exchange programs, and direct-enroll and affiliate programs. 

Students on faculty-led programs will travel as a group led by USA professors and take classes in various locations. All courses taken on these programs are USA courses and offer USA credits that will apply to your degree. International Exchange programs are partnerships with specific universities around the world with which USA has a special, reciprocal relationship. Students enroll directly at the host university, and students from the host university attend USA. USA affiliate programs allow students to enroll at a partner university or program through a third-party provider. GPA requirements vary by program.

You should think of the Study Abroad Office as a one-stop shop for information related to your study abroad experience. The Study Abroad (http://www.southalabama.edu/studyabroad/) team is excited to assist you as you navigate through the process of choosing a program, and will help you from the advising stage until you return from your program.  You can get started by coming to meet with an advisor during Walk-In Advising hours. During an advising session, you can gain general information about the many programs available, how the application process works at USA and general guidance on where to begin.

Be sure to visit the OIE Study Abroad website at http://www.southalabama.edu/studyabroad/ to begin your research.  The website contains information on how to get started, financing your program, and a comprehensive list of pre-approved study abroad programs and partners. While researching a passport or visa programs, consider the following: eligibility requirements, location, course offerings, and costs.  You should also meet with your faculty advisor for assistance in selecting a program based on courses related to your degree.

Studying abroad can be one of the highlights of your university career, giving you wonderful and challenging experiences that will allow you to grow both academically and professionally. Where will you study abroad?

 

Academic Plan

Following an academic plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years. 

To view a sample academic plans for this major, please click here. Degree plans provide only a suggested schedule; make sure to meet with your academic advisor to find the actual schedule that is right for you.

For additional degree information, visit the undergraduate bulletin.

 

For More Information

For more information on this program, contact Dr. Meeker at (251) 460-6248 or kmeeker@southalabama.edu.

Find us on campus at:

Department of Philosophy
5991 USA Dr. N.,
Humanities Building, Room 124
Mobile, AL 36688

Department website