Students majoring in philosophy must earn a total of eight credits, exclusive of senior work and complete at least
- One course in Logic and
- Two credits in history: of these 2 credits, at least 1 must be in either Ancient or Modern (17th and 18th century) Philosophy and
- Two credits in at least one course covering one or more of the following areas: Advanced Logic, Philosophy of Science, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind and
Two credits in at least one course covering one or more of the following areas: Moral Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Law, Feminism, Aesthetics.
(For courses that complete these requirements, see our distribution list.)
Note: With the exception of Logic (PHIL 12) - introductory level courses and First Year Seminars (PHIL 1 - 10) do not count toward the distribution requirements. Distribution requirements can be taken pass/fall (C/NC). But, students cannot use a pass/fail (C/NC) course/seminar as an honors preparation.
In addition, students majoring in philosophy are urged to take courses and seminars in diverse fields of philosophy. Prospective majors should complete the logic requirements as early as possible. Course majors are encouraged to enroll in seminars. Mastery of at least one foreign language is recommended.
Majors, both Honors and Course, need at least 4 of their Philosophy credits from Swarthmore.
Starting with the class of 2026 - There is a limit to the number of cross-listed courses that students can count toward the major and minor-
- Majors (honors and course) can only count two cross-listed courses
- Honors minors can only count one
- Course minors have no restrictions
A student will complete a course major in philosophy by registering for a single credit of Senior Course Study in the Spring term of the senior year. Senior Course Study does not count toward fulfilling the eight credit requirement for the major. Under this heading, the student will produce two independent essays, each of no more than 4,000 words, based on problems or texts considered in seminars or courses that they have already completed and in response to questions set by the department faculty. These two independent essays must fall in two different areas of philosophy from the following list:
- History of Philosophy: Ancient Philosophy; Modern Philosophy; Nineteenth Century Philosophy; Existentialism and Phenomenology; and Contemporary Philosophy;
- Value Theory: Moral Philosophy; Social and Political Philosophy; Aesthetics; Feminist Theory; Philosophy of Law;
- Logic, Metaphysics, and Epistemology: Logic, Theory of Knowledge, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Psychology, Philosophy of Language
Students should inform the Chair about the general areas in which they wish to write their essays by the 10th week of the Fall term. The faculty of the Philosophy Department will then set questions and specify additional readings (1-3 articles or book chapters) for each area. These questions will be available to students by the end of the Fall term.
It is expected that these essays will demonstrate initiative in engaging with problems and texts and that they will develop lines of argumentation beyond what is normally expected of course or seminar papers. Conversation among students who are preparing these essays is encouraged, but each student must produce an independent, original essay. After completing these essays, each course major will be examined orally on both essays by two members of the department.
Student wishing to add a major in Philosophy must do so by the end of the add/drop period of the Fall term of the senior year.
Philosophy students changing their program from course to honors (or honors to course) must do so by the end of the add/drop period of the fall term of the senior year.
Students wishing to drop a course major or minor after the add/drop period of the fall term of the senior year should speak to the chair of the department.