Degree Offered

  • Bachelor of Arts

Nature of Program

The Department of Philosophy is a small, academically vibrant, student-centered, undergraduate program.  Our mission is to provide an outstanding liberal arts education with all the advantages of a large research university.

Philosophy students are trained to understand and to respond both critically and creatively to philosophical problems, theories, and arguments.  Philosophy students investigate fundamental questions that have puzzled human beings for ages.  Philosophy deals with questions such as: What do we know and how do we know it? What is morally right and how should we live? What is the nature of the human mind and self? Is there a God and how might human beings know about God? What is the ideal form of government? What is the ultimate nature of reality?

The areas in which students receive instruction include logic, ethics, social-political philosophy, philosophy of law, theory of knowledge, philosophy of science, continental philosophy, metaphysics, history of ancient and modern philosophy, and philosophy of religion.

Because of the vigorous critical thinking students enjoy in a philosophy class, the study of philosophy provides a strong preparation for a wide range of careers including law, business, medicine, and journalism.  Those who desire a career teaching philosophy in college will need the Ph.D. degree.

Philosophy is an especially strong major for students going to law school.  We offer a pre-law area of emphasis within the philosophy major.

For students without any definite career plans, philosophy is an excellent major in that it provides skills essential for any career that requires clear communication, problem solving, strong writing, evaluation and/or creation of policies and procedures, comfort with complexity and disagreement, and careful and creative thinking.

Students who earn a degree in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences must complete the University requirements, the College requirements for their specific degree program, and their major requirements.


No Degree Offered

Nature of Program

The study of the humanities is the study of our effort to understand ourselves through history, literature, religion, philosophy, and fine arts.  It is also the study of our effort to comprehend the masterpieces of the past and present as we seek to deepen our understanding of ourselves and our culture: what we are, why we are, and what our options for a significant life are.

Although we do not offer a major or a minor in the humanities, many students enjoy our courses as part of their General Education Foundations.


All students have the possibility of earning one or more minors; view a list of all available minors and their requirements here. Please note that students may not earn a minor in their major field.

Certificate of Global Engagement

Students in the Eberly College, regardless of their major, can earn a Certificate of Global Engagement. Completion of the Certificate demonstrates the student’s knowledge of diverse cultures, as well as the ability to communicate and interact effectively with people of different cultural backgrounds.  Students will be required to apply their knowledge of contemporary issues and global social contexts to their course work and their broader citizenship.  For details regarding Certificate requirements, please visit the Eberly College page.

Admission Requirements

Entering freshmen are admitted directly into the major. Students admitted from other majors or CLASS must have a 2.0 in any Philosophy coursework and a 2.0 overall GPA. However, the department is willing to work with students with a lower GPA if they have taken and done well in a PHIL course and their low GPA is the result of grades outside of humanities and social science coursework. Please contact a department adviser for details.

Benchmark Expectations

Philosophy majors must earn a grade of C- or higher in courses required for the major (PHIL 244, 248, 260, 301 or 302, 321 or 346, 480 or 496) and must possess at least a 2.0 average across their PHIL coursework. The department recommends 9 hours in PHIL in the first year in the program. All majors must meet with a Philosophy department adviser each semester. Students who do not meet these benchmarks may be removed from the major.


Click here to view the Suggested Plan of Study

General Education FOUNDATIONS

Please use this link to view a list of courses that meet each GEF requirement.

NOTE: Some major requirements will fulfill specific GEF requirements. Please see the curriculum requirements listed below for details on which GEFs you will need to select.

General Education Foundations
F1 - Composition & Rhetoric3-6
Introduction to Composition and Rhetoric
and Composition, Rhetoric, and Research
Accelerated Academic Writing
F2A/F2B - Science & Technology4-6
F3 - Math & Quantitative Skills3-4
F4 - Society & Connections3
F5 - Human Inquiry & the Past3
F6 - The Arts & Creativity3
F7 - Global Studies & Diversity3
F8 - Focus (may be satisfied by completion of a minor, double major, or dual degree)9
Total Hours31-37

Please note that not all of the GEF courses are offered at all campuses. Students should consult with their advisor or academic department regarding the GEF course offerings available at their campus.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete WVU General Education Foundations requirements, College B.A. requirements, major requirements, and electives to total a minimum of 120 hours. For complete details on these requirements, visit the B.A. Degrees tab on the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences page.

Departmental Requirements for the B.A. in Philosophy

A degree in philosophy requires thirty hours in Philosophy, including three credits at any level, and 18 hours of work at the 300 level or above. All students wishing to obtain a degree in Philosophy must comply with the following:

  • Capstone Requirement: The university requires the successful completion of a Capstone course.
    • Students in Philosophy usually take PHIL 480
      • In some instances, with special permission from the department, students can write a thesis to fulfill the Capstone requirements.  These students must take PHIL 496, and should make arrangements with a faculty member during the semester preceding the one in which they plan to write the thesis.  Only students who have a 3.7 average or higher in Philosophy courses are eligible to write the senior thesis.  Ability to enroll in PHIL 496 will depend upon the availability of a faculty member who is able to work with the student, the student’s level of preparation for successful completion of a thesis, and the student’s submission of an appropriate proposal for the thesis.
  • Writing and Communication Skills Requirement: The Philosophy Bachelor of Arts is a SpeakWrite Certified ProgramTM. SpeakWrite Certified programs incorporate and develop students’ written, verbal, visual, and mediated communication skills across the curriculum.
  • Calculation of the GPA in the Major: A grade of C- or higher must be earned in required courses, and majors must possess at least a 2.0 average in all Philosophy courses in order to graduate. If a course is repeated, all attempts will be included in the calculation of the GPA unless the course is eligible for a D/F repeat. 
  • Pre-Law Area of Emphasis:  The course of study for the Pre-Law Area of Emphasis includes all of the requirements for the Philosophy major as well as PHIL 130, PHIL 323, and PHIL 325 as part of their PHIL electives. 

Curriculum Requirements

First-Year Seminar
GEF Requirements (number of credit hours may vary depending on overlap):
Foreign Languages
Fine Arts Requirement
Global Studies & Diversity Requirement
Basic Core Requirements:9
History of Ancient Philosophy
History of Modern Philosophy
Introduction to Symbolic Logic
Philosophy Upper-Division Courses6
Select one of the following:
Theory of Knowledge
Select one of the following:
Ethical Theory
History of Ethics
Philosophy Upper-Division Electives:9
Select 9 hours at the 300 level or above in PHIL
Philosophy General Elective3
Any PHIL course at the 100-level or above
Capstone Experience: 3
Select one of the following:
Capstone Seminar
Senior Thesis
General Electives53
Number of electives may vary depending on overlap
Total Hours120

Suggested Plan of Study

First Year
PHIL 1911ENGL 101 (GEF 1)3
GEF 23GEF 23
PHIL 244 (GEF 5)3PHIL 260 (GEF 8)3
Foreign Language 1013Foreign Language 1023
General Elective3General Elective3
General Elective2 
 15 15
Second Year
ENGL 102 (GEF 1)3Foreign Language 2043
GEF 33ECAS Global Studies & Diversity Requirement (GEF 7)3
GEF 43PHIL 301 (GEF 8)3
Foreign Language 2033General Elective3
PHIL 248 (GEF 8)3General Elective3
 15 15
Third Year
ECAS Fine Arts Requirement (GEF 6)3PHIL Upper Division Elective 23
PHIL Ethics Course3PHIL Upper Division Elective 33
PHIL General Elective3General elective3
PHIL Upper Division Elective 13General Elective3
General Elective3General Elective3
 15 15
Fourth Year
General Elective3PHIL 4803
General Elective3General Elective3
General Elective3General Elective3
General Elective3General Elective3
General Elective3General Elective3
 15 15
Total credit hours: 120

Major Learning Outcomes


Upon successful completion of the B.A. degree, Philosophy majors will be able to:

  1. Clearly articulate philosophical problems and theories.
  2. Demonstrate a deep understanding of major ideas in the history of philosophy and in contemporary philosophy.
  3. Read complex philosophical texts.
  4. Write clearly and logically.
  5. Carefully analyze arguments.
  6. Think carefully, logically, and creatively about philosophy.
  7. Speak carefully, logically, and creatively about philosophy.
  8. Think, write, and speak carefully, logically, and creatively about complex ideas and issues.

Philosophy Minor


The Philosophy minor is designed to acquaint students with a broad range of philosophical topics and skills, and to introduce them to the fundamental issues in philosophy. The minor consists of fifteen hours in Philosophy, with at least nine hours at the upper level (300 level or above). An average of at least 2.0 in courses counted toward the minor is required.

Humanities Courses

HUM 101. Introduction to Western Civilization 1. 3 Hours.

Presents the high points of Greco-Roman and Medieval European civilizations: their art, architecture, philosophy, religion, literature and music.

HUM 102. Introduction to Western Civilization 2. 3 Hours.

Presents the art, architecture, philosophy, religion, literature and music of the following periods in Western civilization: the Renaissance, the Age of Classicism and the revolutionary nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

HUM 103. Honors Seminar in Humanities 1. 3 Hours.

Honors courses for selected students mirroring HUM 101. Affords participants a wider opportunity for discussion than in HUM 101 and for reading the classic statements on the nature of civilization.

HUM 104. Honors Seminar in Humanities 2. 3 Hours.

Honors courses for selected students mirroring HUM 102. Affords participants a wider opportunity for discussion than in HUM 102 and for reading the classic statements on the nature of civilization.

HUM 106. Promethean Myth, Modern Arts. 3 Hours.

Introduces theme of Promethean individuality at the limits of humanistic pursuit, surveys archetypal characters as they have developed to the present, considering how skepticism had inspired art in diverse forms.

HUM 107. The Humanities of Egypt. 3 Hours.

This course will focus on the cultural history of Egypt from ancient until modern times.

HUM 109. The Italian Renaissance. 3 Hours.

Introduction to artistic and cultural developments during the Renaissance. In addition, the class will appreciate cross-cultural influences and examine the impact that the Renaissance had on Nineteenth-Century writers.

HUM 112. Humanities of Greece. 3 Hours.

Presents the art, architecture, philosophy, religion, literature, and history of Greece.

HUM 113. Faculty Led Travel: Greece. 1 Hour.

Learn about the art, architecture, philosophy, religion, literature, and history of Greece, through faculty led travel.

HUM 293A-Z. Special Topics. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

HUM 490. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Teaching practice as a tutor or assistant.

HUM 492. Directed Study. 1-3 Hours.

Directed study, reading and/or research.

HUM 493A-Z. Special Topics. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

HUM 495. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

HUM 498. Honors. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Students in Honors Program and consent by the honors director. Independent reading, study or research.

Philosophy Courses

PHIL 100. Problems of Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An elementary examination of such philosophical problems as the mind-body problem, the existence of God, freedom and determinism, and the nature of persons and their knowledge.

PHIL 120. Introduction to Ethics. 3 Hours.

Topics include the nature of the good life, whether ethics is relative or there are universal moral truths, the relationship between self- interest and morality, virtues and vices, and the nature of right and wrong.

PHIL 130. Current Moral Problems. 3 Hours.

An examination of current moral problems. Topics include some of the following: abortion, euthanasia, sexism and sexual equality, preferential treatment, animal rights, sexual morality, pornography, economic justice, paternalism, punishment, and nuclear deterrence.

PHIL 140. Historical Introduction to Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An introductory survey of the major philosophers and philosophical movements from ancient times to the present.

PHIL 147. Philosophy and Film. 3 Hours.

An introduction to philosophical questions and problems through the medium of film. Questions emphasized and films viewed will vary by semester and instructor.

PHIL 170. Introduction to Critical Reasoning. 3 Hours.

An elementary study of critical thinking and reasoning. For students who want to improve their skills in recognizing fallacious patterns of reasoning, constructing acceptable arguments, and criticizing faulty lines of reasoning.

PHIL 191. First-Year Seminar. 1-3 Hours.

Engages students in active learning strategies that enable effective transition to college life at WVU. Students will explore school, college and university programs, policies and services relevant to academic success. Provides active learning activities that enable effective transition to the academic environment. Students examine school, college and university programs, policies and services.

PHIL 212. Philosophy of Sport. 3 Hours.

Compare and evaluate issues, ideas and arguments on the Nature of Sport, Aesthetic value in Sport, and Ethics in Sport. The course also explores the history and language of sport as it relates to understanding Sport.

PHIL 244. History of Ancient Philosophy. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours in philosophy. An introduction to the philosophies of the pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, the Epicureans, and the Stoics.

PHIL 248. History of Modern Philosophy. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours in philosophy. A study of selected writings by major philosophers of the Western world from Descartes to Kant.

PHIL 260. Introduction to Symbolic Logic. 3 Hours.

An introduction to modern symbolic logic (basically, propositional logic and the predicate calculus) for students who want to acquire the skill to represent symbolically the form of deductive arguments and to test formally for validity.

PHIL 285. Ethics Bowl. 3 Hours.

PR: PHIL 100. (May be repeated for a maximum of 9 credit hours.) Students learn skills related to researching, planning, and presenting oral and written arguments on various contemporary ethical debates. Students also prepare to compete in an ethics bowl competition.

PHIL 293A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

PHIL 301. Metaphysics. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours of philosophy. Traditional problems associated with reality and experience, universals and particulars, causality, space and time, matter and mind, and the nature of the self.

PHIL 302. Theory of Knowledge. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours of philosophy. The nature and scope of human knowledge. Topics may include perception, belief, truth, evidence, certainty, and skepticism.

PHIL 306. Philosophy of Mind. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours of philosophy or psychology major. Topics to be selected from: the mind-body problem, psychological explanation, psychology and the neurosciences, personal identity, consciousness, artificial intelligence, mental representation, emotions intentionality, folk psychology, and other minds.

PHIL 308. Philosophy of Religion. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours of philosophy or religious studies interdepartmental major. Examines questions of belief in God's existence, life after death, the problem of evil, determinism and divine fore knowledge, or other topics bearing upon the nature of a religious orientation to life.

PHIL 310. Philosophy of Science. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours philosophy or science major. Philosophical problems associated with the concepts and methodology of science.

PHIL 312. Philosophy of Language. 3 Hours.

PR: PHIL 100 or PHIL 120 or PHIL 130 or PHIL 140 or PHIL 170 or PHIL 212 or PHIL 260. An Introduction to the philosophical study of language focusing on questions and puzzles about reference, meaning, truth and necessity.

PHIL 314. Philosophy of Sex and Gender. 3 Hours.

PR: PHIL 100 or PHIL 130 or PHIL 170 or WGST 170. An examination of historical and contemporary philosophical debates about the nature of and ethical issues related to sex, gender, and sexuality. Topics covered include the nature of biological sex, the construction of gender, historical and contemporary works in feminist philosophy, and the ethics of sexual activities such as prostitution.

PHIL 315. Free Will and Moral Responsibility. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours of philosophy. Examines the concept of free will and the question of whether human beings are free in a way that allows them to be responsible for their behavior. Topics include the compatibility of freedom and determinism, the relationship between free will and moral responsibility, whether social factors and psychological impairments undermine freedom and responsibility, and the relationship between responsibility and punishment.

PHIL 321. Ethical Theory. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours of philosophy. Topics to be selected from the following: an examination of major ethical theories, justification in ethics, moral truth, ethical skepticism, moral rights and duties, and the meaning of ethical concepts.

PHIL 323. Social and Political Philosophy. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours philosophy or political science major. An examination of the relationships among the individual, society and the state. Possible topics include justifications of the state, justice, rights, liberty, equality, and arguments for socialism and capitalism.

PHIL 325. Philosophy of Law. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours of philosophy or pre-law student. An introduction to the philosophical study of law; topics to be selected from: theories of the nature of law, legal obligation, responsibility, punishment, free speech, paternalism, legal moralism, and legal ethics.

PHIL 331. Health Care Ethics. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours philosophy or pre-med or health sciences student. Topics: Clinician- patient relationship, life-sustaining treatment, physician assisted death, physician-nurse conflicts, confidentiality, research, reproductive technology, abortion, maternal/fetal conflicts, genetics, rationing, and access.

PHIL 346. History of Ethics. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours philosophy. An examination of such issues as the nature of the good life, the just society, and our moral responsibilities. Such major philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, and Mill will be studied.

PHIL 351. Topics in Medieval Philosophy. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours of philosophy. Introduction to the philosophies of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Peter Abelard, William of Occam, and other selected figures from the Medieval period.

PHIL 354. Themes in Continental Philosophy. 3 Hours.

Nineteenth and twentieth-century French and German philosophers such as Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Habermas, Sartre, Foucault, Derrida; philosophers and themes will vary.

PHIL 355. Existentialism. 3 Hours.

PR: 3 hours of philosophy or literature course in existentialism. Survey of the major existentialist thinkers.

PHIL 360. Truth, Proof, and Possibility. 3 Hours.

PR: PHIL 260. Concepts of mathematical, philosophical, and modal logic, including the proof theory, soundness and completeness of standard propositional and first order logic, trivalent and intuitionistic logics, and semantics for quantified modal logic.

PHIL 480. Capstone Seminar. 3 Hours.

PR: 12 Hours in Philosophy, 6 Hours of PHIL 300 or higher. Advanced philosophical investigation of selected problems and/or major philosophers.

PHIL 490. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Teaching practice as a tutor or assistant.

PHIL 491. Professional Field Experience. 1-18 Hours.

PR: Consent. (May be repeated up to a maximum of 18 hours). Prearranged experiential learning program, to be planned, supervised, and evaluated for credit by faculty and field supervisors. Involves temporary placement with public or private enterprise for professional competence development.

PHIL 492. Directed Study. 1-3 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

PHIL 493A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PHIL 493Z. Special Topics. 1-6Hr. PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

PHIL 494A-Z. Seminar. 3 Hours.

PR: 12 hr in philosophy, 6 hr at the 200 level or above, and junior or senior standing or consent. Presentation and discussion of topics of mutual concern to students and faculty. Advanced and in-depth philosophical investigation of selected problems and/or major philosophers. May be repeated with permission.

PHIL 495. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

PHIL 496. Senior Thesis. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent.

PHIL 497. Research. 1-6 Hours.

Independent research projects.



  • Matthew Talbert - Ph.D. (UC Riverside)
    Associate Professor; Ethics, Moral Psychology, Agency


  • David Cerbone - Ph.D. (U.C. Berkeley)
    Continental philosophy (esp. Heidegger), Wittgenstein, History of Analytic Philosophy
  • Sharon Ryan - Ph.D. (U. Rochester)
    Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion

Associate Professors

  • Joseph Baltimore - Ph.D. (U. Wisconsin-Madison)
    Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics, Philosophy of religion

Assistant Professors

  • Geoff Georgi - Ph.D. (U. Southern California)
    Philosophy of Language, Philosophical Logic

Professors Emeriti

  • Theodore M. Drange
  • Henry Ruf