Philosophy, Bachelor of Arts

Department of Philosophy

College of Arts and Letters

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes... and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”

This degree provides students with experiences and stimulations that generate thinking, feeling, questioning, and wondering. This degree is often seen as evidence of the ability to think in a disciplined manner and has served as a springboard for a surprising number of careers in business, law, education, art, and government.  

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 36 units of major requirements
  • Fourth-semester proficiency in a modern language

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 114
Foreign Language Required
University Honors Program Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

Philosophy is an on-going inquiry, often in the form of dialog and debate, always willing to deal with the most fundamental questions and to analyze concepts that are elsewhere taken for granted.  The goal is to clarify basic aspects of our existence or our lives as lived in social, political, and physical worlds.  The primary goals of a philosophical education are to instill a disposition to participate in this dialog and to sharpen the skills that make the participation productive.  Philosophical thinking, writing, and discussion must be disciplined, well-informed, and open-minded.  Thus, the mission of the Philosophy BA Program is to provide both a broad basis of information in which to situate the issues and the logical tools that structure the inquiry.

Student Learning Outcomes

The History Of Western Philosophy
– having a good understanding of the historical origins of major philosophical ideas and styles.  A shared understanding of the history of philosophy provides a common framework for discussing both new and ongoing issues.  Students will:              

  • Critically read the original works of Plato and Aristotle and articulate the characteristic ideas and philosophical styles of these historical figures.
  • Critically read the original works of Descartes, Hume, and Kant, and articulate the characteristic ideas and philosophical styles of these historical figures.
  • Make connections between historical ideas and arguments and contemporary philosophical issues.
Contemporary Philosophical Work – developing the ability to read, comprehend, and intelligently respond to the philosophical work of our own time..  Students will:
  • Read contemporary philosophical texts and provide a clear account of the passages through:
  • Finding and articulating the main ideas in contemporary philosophical work
  • Paraphrasing the important points in clear prose
  • Identifying the logical structure of the writing
  • Evaluating the plausibility of the points raised
  • Connect modern ideas and arguments to the historical heritage of these ideas.
  • Question critically both in the interest of (1) deepening their understanding of an idea and (2) articulating the idea’s strengths and weaknesses
The Ability to Think and Write Clearly – developing the skills and disposition to recognize and use evidence and sound reasoning. This is the foundation of the discipline in philosophical discussion.  Students will:
  • Master the basic skills of logic, including:
  • identifying the premises and conclusion of an argument
  • describing the logical structure of an argument
  • evaluating the strength of an argument
  • Apply and integrate their skills of logic in other philosophy courses – including reading texts, writing papers and discussing issues.
  • Use informal logic to analyze real-world, sometimes messy, arguments – the type of arguments students will encounter in other courses and in life
Foreign Language - graduates of the program must accomplish proficiency within a foreign language.  Though some languages are more common in the philosophical tradition (e.g., Ancient Greek, Latin, French, and German), an understanding of the difficulties involved in translation of any language aids philosophical comprehension.
  • Graduates must be able to speak, read, and think in another language in order to recognize when phrases and ideas are untranslatable

Major Requirements
  • This major requires 52 units distributed as follows:

    • Philosophy Course Requirements: 36 units
    • Foreign Language: 16 units

    Take the following 36 units:

    • Select one from: PHI 103, PHI 203 or PHI 301 (3 units)
    • PHI 240, PHI 241 (6 units)
    • Select one course from: PHI 320, PHI 321, PHI 322 (3 units)
    • Select one course from: PHI 325, PHI 347, PHI 357 (3 units)
    • PHI 310W which meets the junior-level writing requirement (3 units)
    • PHI 414C which meets the senior capstone requirement (3 units)
    • Additional PHI coursework, of which at least 9 must be in upper-division courses (courses numbered from 300 to 599). If you are considering graduate education in philosophy, we recommend that you take PHI 301. (15 units)
    • Advisors in the Department of Philosophy will work with you to prepare for any specific career you might have in mind. Where it is reasonable to do so and with the advisor's and chair's approval, it is possible to substitute or supplement courses from outside philosophy to count in the philosophy major. These substitutions may not exceed a total of 6 units.

Foreign Language Requirement
  • You must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English that is equivalent to four terms of university coursework in the same language. You may satisfy this requirement by taking language courses or through credit by exam. (16 units)

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.