Undergraduate

You might be asking yourself “What’s the point in studying philosophy if there is no right answer?” A lot of topics touched on in philosophy classes never reach a consensus, but that’s where the practical applications of a degree in philosophy come into play. Philosophy acts as a form of intellectual exercise that will make it easier to identify problems, seek out arguments against your own views, and critically evaluate solutions. These skills along with the ability to read, write, listen and communicate effectively can prepare you for virtually any career path.

Philosophy: Critical Thinking

Who are you?

Whether you’re searching for truth, set on your career path, or simply a lover of wisdom looking for courses that make you think, the WVU Philosophy Department holds the answers to your burning questions. There are opportunities to excel no matter what the stage of your undergraduate journey.

Why are you here?

In terms of the nature of existence, we’re still working on the answer. In terms of academics, we can help you out. The philosophy major provides practical preparation for an endless number of career tracks and builds a strong fundamental base that will help you excel in graduate school, law school, or any endeavor where critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity are necessary. We’re here to challenge you while helping you discover exactly what you want to do in the future.

What’s the purpose?

Our purpose is to stimulate students intellectually, help build comfort with disagreement and uncertainty, and teach people how to think, not what to think. Philosophy majors at WVU have all the benefits of intimate liberal arts colleges, with all the advantages and resources of a leading land-grant university. Philosophy will help lay a foundation that you can adapt to whatever it is you decide to do.

Why Major in Philosophy?

In many undergraduate programs you learn very specific skills, for a very specific range of future possibilities. With philosophy, the proficiencies you’ll have upon graduating prepare you for endless career paths. If your plans include continuing your education, keep in mind that philosophy majors continually outperform popular majors on the GRE, LSAT and GMAT, and have repeated success in terms of medical school acceptance. Employers across numerous disciplines are searching for talented individuals with durable skills like critical thinking and communication. The real question is, why not?

What can I do with a philosophy degree?

With the skills developed studying philosophy, the possibilities are truly endless. Here are some of the essential skills you’ll develop as a philosophy major:

  • Formulating and solving problems
  • Analyzing and developing logical arguments
  • Thinking critically
  • Writing and speaking effectively

These are just a few of the proficiencies a student can gain with philosophy. Furthermore, many degrees only prepare you for very specific careers, but now you have the opportunity to build knowledge to transcend many disciplines. With a degree in philosophy you can excel in:

  • Law School
  • Medical School
  • Business
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Psychology
  • Political Science
  • Teaching

Much like the theories and questions addressed in philosophy, the possibilities are endless.

Major Requirements

Eberly College Requirements

Philosophy Courses Meeting GEC Objectives:

  • Objective 3: – PHIL 140, 244, 248, 346, 351
  • Objective 4: – PHIL 100, 130, 170, 260, 301, 302, 306, 308, 310, 321, 323, 325, 331, 355
  • Objective 6: – PHIL 100, 130, 170, 260, 301, 306, 310, 321, 323, 325, 331, 354
  • Objective 8: – PHIL 140, 244, 248, 308, 346, 351, 354, 355

**All of the above information is subject to change and may not be the most current information. For the most current information based on your enrollment date please check out the WVU Catalog.

Pre-Law Degree Track

Pre-Law Requirements

Philosophy provides an excellent preparation for law school. Why? Because the skills law students and lawyers need are the exact same skills that the study of philosophy develops and nurtures. Plus, philosophy is challenging, extremely interesting, and fun!

Law Requires

  • Ability to analyze arguments
  • Ability to evaluate evidence
  • Logical reasoning
  • Persuasive argumentation skills
  • Ability to read complex texts
  • Comfort with difficult problems
  • Comfort with disagreement
  • Comfort in situations with no easy answer
  • Analytical writing
  • Appreciation for social, ethical dilemmas
  • Creativity

Philosophy Provides

  • Ability to analyze arguments
  • Ability to evaluate evidence
  • Logical reasoning
  • Persuasive argumentation skills
  • Ability to read complex texts
  • Comfort with difficult problems
  • Comfort with disagreement
  • Comfort in situations with no easy answer
  • Analytical writing
  • Appreciation for social, ethical dilemmas
  • Creativity

Many of our recent students have used philosophy as a gateway to law school. Recent graduates have gained admission to some of the most prestigious law schools in the country, including Harvard, Yale, and UC Berkeley.

Writing Philosophy

If you can’t write it, you don’t know it. It would be impossible to overestimate the importance of writing to the discipline of philosophy.

3 Reasons Writing in Philosophy is a Valuable Skill

  1. The first is pragmatic. The grades in many philosophy courses are substantially based on how well the student expresses an understanding of philosophy in writing.
  2. The second reason is that writing down one’s ideas helps immensely to clarify them.
  3. The third reason is that skill in writing philosophy carries over into other areas of life.

Writing Philosophically

A single, broad description of philosophy would indicate that its purpose is to clarify our basic concepts and ways of looking at the world. Consider, for example, some of the basic issues in epistemology (theory of knowledge). Nearly all philosophers agree that in some sense we have knowledge of a world that is out there, and that in some sense knowledge is based upon sensory experience, which depends on the nature of eyesight, hearing, the human brain, language, etc.

The major goal of philosophy is to state the exact sense in which all of these things are true. To do this, we must put our ideas in writing. All of us have fuzzy concepts in the back of our minds while we are speaking to others or occupying ourselves with our own thoughts. We may have in our minds several different ways to describe something, and be forced to choose only when we attempt to put our ideas into writing.

Philosophy is a complex discipline, which is reason enough for writing it out. By putting our views and arguments in writing, we have a chance to notice whether important points have been overlooked. However, there is also a special need for writing because philosophy so often deals with questions most people think about at some time in their lives. Unfortunately, most people do not think about these questions in the self-conscious and thoroughly critical way that the discipline of philosophy requires.

Before undertaking the disciplined study of philosophy, however, we may be inclined to believe that we have clear ideas about these matters, when in fact we do not. Probably the best known figure in the history of philosophy is Socrates, who lived in Athens in the fourth century B.C. Socrates took it upon himself to be a gadfly to the citizens of Athens, often engaging them in philosophical conversation just to show them how little they knew.

We have an opportunity to be our own gadfly by attempting to write down our philosophical beliefs. Almost surely, this will show us that we do not know as much as we think. Not only will we learn that our ideas need work, but putting them in writing will allow us to solicit the opinions of others in the most effective way.

The above is taken from a guide to philosophical writing by Ralph W. Clark.

Visit our Writing Page for more tips on Philosophical Writing.

Philosophy Courses Offered

The Department of Philosophy offers courses in a variety of fields that help students meet major and minor program requirements and well as GEC credits. Courses complement many other areas of study:

  • Philosophy of law
  • Philosophy of religion
  • Social and political philosophy
  • Theory of knowledge
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Existensialism
  • Health care ethics
  • Philosophy of science
  • Ethical Theory
  • Several courses in the history of philosophy

Scholarships

Thanks to the generosity of our friends and alumni of the department, we’re able to help hard-working students by offering awards:

  • Daniel B. Purinton Scholarship
    The Department of Philosophy awards up to three Daniel Boardman Purinton Scholarships each year outstanding philosophy majors in their junior or senior year
  • Eberly Magazine
  • WVU Alumni Magazine
  • Eberly Strategic Plan
  • WVU Young Alumni
  • A State of Minds