Humanities Building at dusk

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most often-asked questions about the programs of the Department of Philosophy:

Are minors available?

Minors are available in most departments. The philosophy minor consists of 18 semester hours of course work, at least 12 of which must be at the 300-400 level. Students can use general education requirements to pursue interdisciplinary minors. In addition, concentrations can be developed in any area within the College of Arts and Sciences or in other areas such as management, finance, and marketing.

Do University of Dayton philosophy majors succeed in winning admission to graduate schools or professional programs? 


Our majors have an excellent record of admission to graduate school. Philosophy majors normally have been admitted to most of the law schools to which they have applied. Recent graduates have been admitted to study law at New York University, Washington University, Notre Dame, Case Western Reserve, Ohio State, Tulane, and the University of Cincinnati, as well as at the University of Dayton. Our recent majors have also won admission to some of the top graduate programs in philosophy, including the University of Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame. Other recent graduates have gone on to study philosophy in Augsburg, Germany and Leuven, Belgium. Recent majors also have pursued graduate degrees in other fields at schools such as Cornell, Duquesne, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio University, the State University of New York at Albany, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. We have even had a philosophy major go on to medical school; he is now an orthopedic surgeon.

How will other requirements at the University of Dayton contribute to my education?

The Department of Philosophy places entering majors in the Core Program. This program delivers most of the general education requirements in a highly integrated, interdisciplinary format. Faculty members from English, history, philosophy, religious studies, and the social sciences work together to provide students with an excellent foundation for their entire University experience. In addition, the College of Arts and Sciences has designed a liberal studies curriculum for all B.A. degrees that enables students to explore the arts, humanities, languages, social sciences, and natural sciences in ways that augment their major requirements.

What about getting a double major?


Students are encouraged to consider a second major, and over half of all philosophy majors have a second major. The department chairperson, who advises all philosophy majors, helps students plan for a second major if they wish. A second major expands students' opportunities for future careers or graduate study and also permits students to develop more of their intellectual interests. Recent graduates have completed second majors in biology, communication, economics, English, history, international studies, languages, physics, political science, premedicine, psychology, religious studies, and sociology. The University of Dayton encourages students to understand the connected nature of knowledge by developing skills in making connections across academic disciplines.

What can I do with a major in philosophy?

A major in philosophy prepares students for a wide range of future possibilities. Philosophy builds skills in reasoning, analysis, speaking, and writing that provide the foundation for work in many disciplines and professions. Students who have graduated from the University of Dayton with majors in philosophy have pursued careers in higher education as teachers and scholars, academic administration, law, ministry, business, social service, health care, public service, philanthropic foundations, writing, and the arts.

What is distinctive about the University of Dayton’s philosophy program?


The Department of Philosophy has one of the largest faculties in the Midwest and normally offers thirty or more different courses each semester. Faculty have a wide range of research and teaching interests, and are readily available to work closely with students on research projects. Students in the Honors and Scholars Programs have the opportunity to write a thesis under the close supervision of a faculty member. Students are also encouraged to present research at national philosophy conferences for undergraduates. The department sponsors an annual colloquium that brings national and international scholars to campus. Students participate in these events and engage in conversation with scholars during the course of each colloquium. The honor society, Phi Sigma Tau, provides students with opportunities for recognition and service. Some philosophy majors serve as tutors for other undergraduate philosophy students. In addition, students have opportunities for international study.

What is the relationship between students and faculty members in the department?


The department chairperson advises all majors in philosophy. Students work closely with individual faculty members in courses required for the major and in upper-level seminars. Philosophy faculty members have a reputation for accessibility and collegiality, as well as for dedication to research. Many students develop long-term professional relationships with faculty, keeping in contact as their careers develop.

Who studies philosophy at the University of Dayton?


All students take an introductory course in philosophy (PHL 103) as part of the Common Academic Program. In addition, most students take at least one additional course in philosophy to complete general education requirements. Many students go on to minor in philosophy.

Why do students major in philosophy?

Most students have had no exposure to philosophy before beginning University studies. Some entering students choose to major in philosophy because they are interested in the strong intellectual preparation it provides for careers such as law, health care, social service, or religious vocation. Others are intrigued by fundamental human questions about meaning, the foundations of ethics, the nature of knowledge and reality, or the scope of social responsibility. Often students do not become philosophy majors until they have taken one or two courses in the subject. Reading philosophy and discussing philosophical ideas enables students to see that philosophy promotes deep and creative understanding both of themselves and of the communities to which they belong. Philosophy majors usually find their study to be very rewarding personally.

Why is there something rather than nothing?


While not exactly a frequently asked question, this is an excellent question for a prospective philosophy student - or any human being - to ask. Philosophy is concerned as much about the quality of the questions we ask as about the care of our answers to them. If this kind of question fascinates you, then you should certainly consider a philosophy major.