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For 2,000 years, philosophy has been the foundation for a liberal arts education. The study of philosophy examines knowledge, truth, reality and existence. It teaches us to ask big questions about how the world works, and sharpens our ability to understand and analyze concepts, assumptions, beliefs, logical errors and commonly held opinions.

Why Choose Philosophy?

The Education

Philosophy students learn to appreciate and engage in philosophical questions that arise around the world and across history. One of the great strengths of a philosophy education is that it develops your ability to ask important questions, like:

  • What is the nature of the good life?
  • What is justice?
  • What can we know with certainty?
  • How should we take care of each other?

By exposing you to a plurality of historical and contemporary responses to these questions, and training you in the analytic skills to examine them, we prepare you to engage these questions as they arise today. You will be well equipped to think critically about questions and problems that arise in areas such as law, emerging technology, disaster response, racism, environmentalism, caregiving, sexual relationships, friendships, business, film, literature, and art.

The Personalization

As a philosophy major or minor, you will get to choose from a variety of classes taught by excellent professors. Classes are taught in several formats. In interactive classes you will engage in discussions with other students and the professor. In seminars, you will address topics of interest with other philosophy majors or minors. 

You will be assigned a faculty adviser who will help you pick the classes that interest you, and make sure you meet all the major requirements. If you are interested in a graduate or professional degree, you will also meet with a pre-health, pre-law, or graduate school adviser.

Should majors or minors wish to develop a focus, our faculty can support a range of concentrations and research, including pre-law, ethics, philosophy of literature, art and film, political philosophy, feminist philosophy, critical race philosophy, Africana philosophy, philosophic issues in technology, and the history of philosophy. Conducting a research project with a faculty member is a great learning experience to have before graduation, especially if you are considering graduate school or a career in advocacy.

The Professional Options

Philosophy prepares students to be citizens of the world and step into professional lives that utilize critical thinking and communication skills, a willingness to have one’s ideas challenged, and the ability to ask questions that change how people think. Philosophy majors have among the highest scores on tests like the GMAT, MCAT, LSAT, and have the highest earning potential of any field in the humanities.

Philosophy students enjoy successful careers in a wide variety of professions, including law, business, medicine, information technology, education, social work, and arts and entertainment. Movement leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Angela Davis were philosophy professors; Pope John Paul II, Rep. John Lewis, President Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Justice David Souter, hedge fund manager George Soros, FDIC Chair Sheila Bair, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Flickr and Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield, and culture makers Stephen Colbert, Wes Anderson and Susan Sontag were all philosophy majors.

What Will You Learn?

As a philosophy major or minor, you will learn to grapple with critical and global questions about truth and justice. You will learn to read carefully, argue concisely and write precisely. You will be able to understand, analyze and challenge assumptions and commonly held opinions, logical errors, injustice, oppression, and ignorance.

Based on your interests, you’ll have the opportunity to take courses such as:

  • Ethics
  • Critical Thinking
  • Logic
  • Philosophy of Literature
  • Philosophy and Film
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Political Philosophy
  • Race, Gender and Class
  • Sex, Love and Friendship
  • Africana Philosophy
  • Ancient Greek Philosophy
  • Early Modern Philosophy
  • Existentialism
  • Faith and Reason
  • Contemporary Topics, such as Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence

The philosophy department uses a pluralistic and interdisciplinary approach — historical, contemporary, and global — with courses frequently cross-listed in:

  • Political Science
  • Religious Studies
  • Women and Gender Studies
  • Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies
  • Digital Arts and Humanities
  • Environmental Studies
  • Peace and Justice Studies
See the Degree Requirements

Philosophy is also offered as a minor.

What Will You Do?

Philosophy is the foundation of a liberal arts education, which in turn, is a strong base for many career paths. Philosophy majors have gone on to work in fields including law, public office, business, information technology, medicine, public health, social work, education, non-profit management, film, television, and comedy.

While at Manhattan, I was able to double major in psychology and philosophy, minor in Italian, conduct and publish research, and study abroad for a semester in Florence, Italy. All of these experiences allowed me to meet many amazing and intelligent people from whom I learned a lot. The professors in the Philosophy Department truly care about their students’ education and are dedicated to being supportive and helping their students succeed — qualities that I hope to replicate in my own career.

Victoria Argento ’15, Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at Hofstra University