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Philosophy, BA

Earn a Philosophy degree from Seattle University and explore life’s major questions with highly valued critical thinking skills.

About this Program

Explore Deeper Questions of Life and Develop High-Value Intellectual Skills

The study of philosophy begins with questions that are as personal as they are universal: What can I know? How should I live? Who am I? What am I? How am I connected to the world around me?

As a student, you are invited into a community of inquirers to reflect on fundamental questions of human existence through engaging with philosophy’s diverse traditions and major thinkers.

Philosophy students learn to think critically about the world, to call into question biases and unwarranted assumptions and to pursue an “examined life.”

Not only is philosophy worth studying for its own sake, but philosophy students also acquire exceptional critical thinking, close reading, clear writing and argumentative skills that are highly valued by graduate programs and prospective employers.

Recent major and minor philosophy degree graduates have been accepted to highly ranked law schools.

Philosophy Degree at a Glance

Learn how this degree from the Department of Philosophy will contribute to your career goals. Then, explore course requirements and see how impactful a Seattle University degree can be.

To respond fruitfully to universal questions requires training in critical habits of mind, learning from the rich traditions and the great minds that have meditated on such questions, and engaging in lively discussion with a community of inquirers. Seattle University undergraduate philosophy courses communicate the value of philosophy and impart knowledge of its most influential figures. Even more, the courses help students bring their own intellectual concerns into dialogue with great minds of the past and present, and hone skills of reasoning and argumentation that make that questioning illuminating, reliable, and useful.

Minoring in philosophy gives you the opportunity to develop your ability to reason and think in a clear and disciplined manner. It also helps you learn to make informed judgements and persuade others to believe your position to be correct. Finally, a minor in philosophy helps you develop the skills need to communicate subtle and complex ideas in a clear and compelling manner.

The ethics minor provides a concentrated study in the theory and practice of ethics. Rooted in the Jesuit intellectual tradition, courses in the minor will explore, from both classic and contemporary perspectives, philosophical questions concerning the nature and grounding of claims about right and wrong intentions, praiseworthy actions, virtues, and values. Ethics critically examines and rigorously debates basic conceptions of justice, equality, obligation, responsibility, and duty. In addition, it delves into current questions about how moral principles are to be translated into law and public policy in a pluralistic world. The ethics minor is designed to educate students about moral theories and their interpretation in concrete situations involving moral action.

 On successful completion of this program, you will be able to: 

  1. Integrate philosophical insights with contemporary issues facing global, national, local, and/or campus communities as well as your own lived experience
  2. Engage questions of ethics, social justice, spirituality, and meaning of life
  3. Communicate effectively with different audiences and purposes using philosophical tools, such as
  4. developing philosophical arguments and formulating and replying to reasoned objections
  5. formulating historical, social, and political critiques of philosophical positions
  6. examining common assumptions
  7. Investigate various histories of philosophy with an emphasis on centering marginalized traditions
  8. Analyze intersections of social positionality, such as race, class, gender, sexual identity, disability, species, and culture
  9. Interpret both primary and secondary sources in philosophy while analyzing their argumentation or methods of persuasion

What You’ll Learn

Learn about the classes you’ll take as a student here.

Support for Your Development

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Pathways to Professional Formation

The College of Arts & Sciences is committed to helping you through your lifetime journey of professional formation and discernment. We offer opportunities to deepen and broaden your understanding of your professional identity.

Student sitting during an adivising session

Arts & Sciences Advising Center

Our advising center is dedicated to your holistic academic and professional through academic advising and promotion of academic excellence. We work to solve problems, provide navigational guidance and build connections.

Seattle University Undergraduate Research Journal

Seattle University Undergraduate Research Journal

Our peer-reviewed online publication provides an opportunity for you to publish your research. Publication can help you prepare for advanced studies at top graduate programs or demonstrate knowledge and skills when applying for non-academic positions.

Advanced Research Opportunities

The philosophy departmental honors major offers an opportunity for students to complete a challenging individual research project and to work independently under the direction of one of their professors.

Departmental honors students take 10 credits of designated honors courses (in addition to the 50 credits required for the major) and write a 25 to 40 page thesis during their senior year.

High-Demand Skills for Law Career and More

Philosophy graduates possess a range of skills that employers identify as enormously valuable: clear and analytical thinking, persuasive writing and speaking, creative problem solving and insightful questioning.

Data shows that people with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy tend to earn more over their lifetime than people with degrees in any other humanities field.

Philosophy students have both the highest starting salary of any humanities major and the highest percent increase between starting and mid‐career salary).

Our students often go on to graduate study. Many select the major, minor, or Ethics minor as an integral element in their preparation for law school.

Philosophy majors consistently perform best or near best on graduate school admission exams and the LSAT year after year compared to other majors.

Hear From Our Alumni

SU Alumni Rachel Yonek

Rachael Yonek

“Since graduating I’ve moved to Nashville, Tennessee where I have started the PhD program in Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. Studying philosophy at Seattle U opened up my world to new questions, perspectives, and methodologies. It’s difficult for me not to go on endlessly about how much I love and cherish SU’s Philosophy department. The Philosophy department is where I found my ideal academic experience.”

BA '16

Featured Faculty

  • Marc Cohen, PhD
    Marc Cohen, PhD

    Program Director, Professional MBA and Online MBA
    Professor, Department of Management
    Professor, Department of Philosophy
    (shared appointment with College of Arts & Sciences)
    Genevieve Albers Professor, 2021-2024

  • Jason Wirth, PhD
    Jason Wirth, PhD

    Professor and Department Chair, Philosophy
    Associate Appointment, Film Studies

Contact Us!