Philosophy degree options

Major or minor: Philosophy

Cornell's department of Philosophy will introduce you to some of the deepest and most difficult questions we can ask: questions about human nature and the meaning of life, about the nature of reality, about the possibility and extent of knowledge, about the existence of God, and about morality and how we should live.

As a philosophy major, you will come to know how some of the greatest thinkers in history have answered such questions and how they are addressed by contemporary philosophers. 

Understanding the arguments of philosophers in response to deep questions requires careful analysis and close study. As a student of philosophy, you will acquire the ability to discern the most important features of complex material, learn to assess elaborate arguments, and come to form your own conclusions on difficult and important questions. 

Philosophy provides a framework for staging a reflective discourse on modern debates such as inequities in gender, race, and class, as well as reproductive and individual rights, environmental issues, and wealth distribution. 

Grad school and career preparation

As a philosophy major, you will develop advanced and transferable skills such as critical thinking, reading, writing, oral debate, and analytical skills that are applicable to all careers. A philosophy major is an invaluable preparation for law school in particular, and for graduate work in general. Learning to think and reason well is a foundation for success in any profession. 

A June 20, 2017, Washington Post article noted that, "Some surveys show that philosophy majors perform better on average than most of their peers on exams for law, medicine, and other graduate schools. And research by the salary data site Payscale showed that philosophy majors rank in the top 100 of all academic fields for average mid-career salary, at $84,100."

Benefits of One Course At A Time

The One Course At A Time curriculum offers the freedom of long class periods and removes other academic priorities for students. You truly delve into the intricacies of philosophical theories and discern the implications of different views. This undivided focus affords a rare setting in which philosophical inquiry may flourish. As philosophy professors have longer periods of class time to immerse their students in philosophical topics, students become familiar and adept at the nature of philosophical discourse.

Off-campus studies

One Course At A Time also allows for the flexibility to study off campus without interrupting other course work. For example, you might spend a block exploring philosophical pursuits at the Boundary Waters Field Station in northern Minnesota during the Environmental Ethics course.

One student embarked on a quest to explore pragmatism at work in environmental issues in the Amazon for a block. What will you do? 

Research opportunities

With One Course At A Time you are able to pursue research opportunities off campus without interrupting your classes. You might receive a grant through the Cornell Summer Research Institute to work with professors. 

In 2017, a student worked with Professor Migely on "A More Inclusive Union: Women Philosophers in the Modern Period." Others became Cornell Fellows and were funded to pursue their research or to intern for two blocks. What research would you conduct?