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Philosophy

About The Major

Who studies philosophy? How about comedian Stephen Colbert or political activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for starters? The word “philosophia” means “love of wisdom,” and — true to their name — philosophers have challenged, enlightened and sustained human society since the time of the ancient Greeks. Clemson’s philosophy degree will help you gain a broad understanding of the human condition and develop the ability to bring critical thinking and organizational skills to creative problem solving. The philosophy major is especially well regarded as preparation for law and medical school. Graduates also pursue graduate work in a wide variety of humanities, social sciences and other disciplines. (Students who major in philosophy do extremely well on not just the LSAT but also the GMAT -- you can find some illuminating charts comparing the scores of various majors here.) With two distinct emphasis areas (a general philosophy track or "law, liberty and justice") Clemson’s program is well equipped to meet your specific career goals.

Program Requirements

The philosophy curriculum is designed for maximum flexibility to allow majors to pursue their particular interests in philosophy and other fields. The required course of study in Philosophy consists of the basic curriculum and either the standard Philosophy major or the Philosophy major with a Law, Liberty, and Justice Emphasis Area. All Philosophy majors must meet the requirements of the School of Humanities plus HIST 1720 and 1730 and 12 hours of 3000–4000-level coursework in one of the following areas: humanities (other than philosophy), math, science, or social science. Some courses may meet more than one requirement. All Philosophy majors must take PHIL 3990 in the junior year. Preparation of the portfolio should begin as soon as the major is declared. Specific requirements include the following:

Standard Philosophy Major—PHIL 3150, 3160, 4010 or 4020, and 24 additional credits in PHIL selected with the advice and consent of the advisor. Three of these credits may be at the 1000 level.

Law, Liberty, and Justice Emphasis Area—PHIL 1020, 3150, 3160, 3040 or 3200 or 3210, 3430, 4010 or 4020, HIST 3280, 3290, and nine additional credits in philosophy selected with the advice and consent of the pre-law advisor. Students with this emphasis area are advised to include PO SC 4370 and/or 4380 as an elective, minor, or advanced area requirement.

Pre-law and Pre-medicine students majoring in Philosophy should consult the departmental advisor for help in tailoring the program to their needs. More information for Pre-law majors can be found here.  More information for Pre-med majors can be found here.

Recent Alumni Profile: Scott Porter (Philosophy '16; minor in Non-profit Leadership)

Scott originally majored in Philosophy because of his interest in the content and the way it related to some fundamental issues. Being undecided on his career plans he decided, as he says, to start by scott porterfocusing on who he wanted to be rather than what he wanted to be. He believes that his coursework in environmental ethics, existentialism, moral philosophy, identity, and self-knowledge as well as participation on a debate team opened him up to the world and influenced his minor area. The decision to minor in nonprofit leadership came naturally for Scott; after this philosophical examination he knew that he wanted to be doing something that helped others. His favorite philosophy courses have been seminar courses on political anarchism, a seminar on Jeff McMahan's The Ethics of Killing (a class that featured having the author travel from Oxford University to Clemson and discuss his book with the students!), and a seminar on the ontology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Scott has been very active outside of the classroom, serving as President of the Philosophical Society for a year and attending weekly meetings that give any student a chance to discuss philosophy. He notes that these meetings, which involve student-led discussions, are a lot of fun and different from discussion in regular classes.

Scott was also a vital part of Clemson's forensics debate team for four years and was a member of the 2013 National Educational Debate Association National Champion team, as well as a novice national champion and a World Universities Debating Championship qualifier for 2015 and 2016. Despite this intense commitment Scott found time to study abroad for a semester in Bangalore, India.  He succeeded in his goal of working with a non-profit organization after graduation: he was accepted in to the Peace Corps and is now working with the Corps in Uganda.  Scott reports that this type of position requires an ability to communicate and engage with different perspectives and moral frameworks than his, as well as question his own, which is something that philosophy has him well prepared to do!


Sample Course Plan for Standard Philosophy Major


Freshman Year

First Semester
3 - ENGL 1030 Accelerated Composition
3 - HIST 1720 The West and the World I
3 - Foreign Language Requirement1 
3 - Mathematics Requirement2 
4 - Natural Science Requirement2 

16

Second Semester
3 - HIST 1730 The West and the World II
3 - Foreign Language Requirement1 
3 - Mathematics or Natural Science Requirement2 
3 - Oral Communication Requirement2
3 - Social Science Requirement2 

15

Sophomore Year

First Semester
3 - Cross-Cultural Awareness Requirement2 
3 - Science and Tech. in Society Requirement2 
3 - Major Requirement3 
3 - Minor Requirement4 
3 - Elective

15

Second Semester
3 - Arts and Humanities (Literature) Requirement2 
6 - Major Requirement3 
3 - Minor Requirement4 
3 - Elective

15

Junior Year

First Semester
6 - Advanced Area Requirement5 
6 - Major Requirement3 
3 - Minor Requirement4 

15

Second Semester
2 - PHIL 3990 Philosophy Portfolio
3 - Elective
9 - Major Requirement3 
3 - Minor Requirement4 

17

Senior Year

First Semester
6 - Advanced Area Requirement5 
3 - Major Requirement3 
3 - Minor Requirement4 

12

Second Semester
6 - Major Requirement3 
9 - Elective

15

120 Total Semester Hours

Notes:
1 - The foreign language requirement is a proficiency requirement. Students must complete through 2020 in any modern language.
See Modern Languages Requirement at Clemson University statement on page 27 of the 2016 catalog.

2 - See General Education Requirements.
3 - See major requirements in program description above.
4 - See page 72 of the 2016 catalog for approved minors. 
5 - Select from 3000–4000-level courses in the humanities (must be from an area other than philosophy), mathematical sciences, science, or the social sciences.