Philosophy, B.S.

Program Code: PHIL_BS

Program Description

The Philosophy B.S. option is intended for students who wish to study philosophy as part of a multiple major program with other B.S. degree programs, especially those connected to the life sciences, the physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, or technology. It allows such students to study the philosophical, critical, and ethical dimensions of pure and applied sciences, including the areas of philosophy foundational for such study. The focus is, then, on analytic and normative reasoning connected to reasoning and explanation; theory and practice; the nature and limits of human understanding; and the structure and knowability of the world it seeks to understand.

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy is the oldest of the liberal arts, and is often defined simply as the love of wisdom. Philosophy is at the core of the liberal arts tradition and provided the foundation for the modern university, yet it remains highly relevant to life in technologically complex, diverse, global, information driven societies such as our own. The Philosophy major provides in-depth study of fundamental issues that inescapably confront all persons, such as ethics, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, epistemology, philosophy of science, and logic. These studies enhance imaginative, interpretive, analytical, critical, and communicative capacities. Majors thus may acquire intellectual abilities crucial for self-fulfillment, responsible participation in public life, and success in a wide range of careers—including law, business, education, journalism, medicine, and public service.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have at least third-semester classification.


Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Philosophy, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 36
Requirements for the Major 39

Per Senate Policy 83-80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
PHIL 12Symbolic Logic Keystone/General Education Course3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select 9 credits in Philosophical Foundations of Science:9
Science and Truth Keystone/General Education Course
Nature and Environment Keystone/General Education Course
Philosophy of Science Keystone/General Education Course
Theories of Knowledge Keystone/General Education Course
Theories of Knowledge Keystone/General Education Course
Metaphysics Keystone/General Education Course
Metaphysics Keystone/General Education Course
Philosophy of Mind Keystone/General Education Course
Philosophy of Language Keystone/General Education Course
Select 6 credits in Ethics and Science:6
Philosophy of Technology Keystone/General Education Course
Environmental Philosophy Keystone/General Education Course
Bioethics Keystone/General Education Course
Ethics of Climate Change Keystone/General Education Course
Food, Values, and Health Keystone/General Education Course
Select 6 credits in Advanced Topics:6
Seminar in Environmental Ethics
Seminar in Philosophy of Technology
Seminar in Philosophy of Science
Seminar in Epistemology
Seminar in Metaphysics
Seminar in Philosophy of Mind
Medical and Health Care Ethics
Select 6 credits in Formal Reasoning:6
Logic for Computer Science
Introduction to Programming Techniques
Programming and Computation I: Fundamentals
Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science
Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence
Introduction to Econometrics
Decision Making and Strategy in Economics
Behavioral Economics
ECON 414
Experimental and Behavioral Economics
Language, Logic, and Discrete Mathematics
Introduction to Computer Languages
MATH 315
Foundations of Geometry
Introduction to Mathematical Logic
Number Theory
History of Mathematics
Mathematical Theory of Games
Risk and Decisions
BS: Identifying Bias and Falsehood Keystone/General Education Course
Decision Theory and Analysis
Elementary Probability
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
Select 3 credits PHIL elective, unrestricted topic3
Select 6 credits Advanced Topics supporting program, choose from: Advanced Topics, Formal Reasoning, or by approval6

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Program Learning Objectives

  • Learning about major philosophical figures, issues, traditions, methods, and trends.
  • Understanding the relevance of the philosophical ideas and approaches for contemporary life, including in theoretical, scientific, existential, religious, cultural, ethical, social, and political contexts.
  • Developing critical writing, reading, and speaking skills with an eye towards understanding, constructing, and assessing abstract, complex, or controversial philosophical arguments.
  • Acquiring an inquisitive disposition toward philosophical questions and a willingness to justify and modify one’s views about those questions through respectful conversation.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising
Use the Liberal Arts Meet the Academic Advisers web page to see the contact information for the specific adviser(s) of this program

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2024-25 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition.

Philosophy, B.S. at University Park Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
First-Year Seminar3Philosophy (Foundation Course)3
Philosophy (Any Course)3General Quantification3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Quantification3General Education Course3
 15 15
Second Year
Philosophy (Foundation Course)3Philosophy (Foundation Course)3
Philosophy Ethics and Science Course3Formal Reasoning Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 15 15
Third Year
Formal Reasoning Course3GWS3
Philosophy Ethics and Science Course3PHIL 123
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 15 15
Fourth Year
Advanced PHIL Topics3Advanced PHIL Topics3
Supporting Advanced PHIL3Supporting Advanced PHIL3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Health and Wellness1.5General Health and Wellness1.5
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education


Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy Cultural Diversity Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ), Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS) and Integrative Studies (Inter-domain) requirements. N or Q (Honors) is the suffix at the end of a course number used to help identify an Inter-domain course, but the inter-domain attribute is used to fill audit requirements. Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of 'C' or better.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and satisfy a portion of that General Education requirement. If the student’s program prescribes GWS these courses will replace both ENGL 15/ENGL 30H and CAS 100A/CAS 100B/CAS 100C. Each course is 3 credits.


University Park

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University Park, PA 16802