Live curiously. Think rationally.

Philosophy is a discipline that encourages participants to think, question and wonder. Studying philosophy also offers practical payoffs because the skills taught (including an emphasis on analysis, argumentation, evaluation and proof) carry over to many endeavors. Philosophy encourages logical precision, awareness of the assumptions underlying any discussion and an attitude of both open-mindedness and responsible criticism toward new and unusual ideas.


Program type:

Major, BA


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Bachelor of Arts in -


The BA in Philosophy is designed for students with an interest in expanding their thought process. Studying philosophy makes you more open-minded: you’ll encounter the ideas of people who have lived lives very different from yours. Undergraduate philosophy majors are well prepared to generate higher scores on standardized tests (like the LSAT, GMAT and GRE) than many of their non-philosophy classmates and employers in many fields actively seek out and welcome philosophy graduates because of the diversity and proficiency of their skills. A BA in Philosophy prepares students well for careers requiring advanced study including law, medicine and academia.

Outcomes and Career Outlook

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be able to recall a broad range of philosophers and philosophies and understand their interrelations and historical significance; demonstrate an ability to read and critically engage with historical and contemporary philosophical texts; reconstruct and deliberate over philosophical arguments; understand fundamental moral theories and apply them to ethical problems and practical pursuits; demonstrate formal reasoning tools and apply those tools in philosophical and everyday contexts; apply philosophical concepts, analytical skills and critical thinking outside of philosophy; create and defend their own philosophical views orally and in writing; and apply research skills.

Employment of philosophy graduates is projected to grow by 5% to 2029, with a median annual salary of $73,000, according to wage and employment data from and O*Net OnLine.


Median annual salary


Employment growth by 2029

Career Opportunities

  • Advertising
  • Civil Service
  • Consulting
  • Ethics
  • Higher Education
  • Human Resources
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Market Research
  • Medicine
  • Policy Analysis
  • Social Work
  • Technology/Artificial Intelligence
  • Writer


Plan of study

The undergraduate major in philosophy requires 30 hours of philosophy coursework. A minimum of 18 hours in Philosophy must be taken from the UMSL Department of Philosophy.

Courses above the 3000-level taken elsewhere do not count toward the major.

Philosophy majors must complete all required courses (under Course Requirements) with a grade of “C-” or higher and maintain a 2.0 GPA for all their Philosophy coursework.

General Education Requirements

Majors must meet the university and college general education requirements. Candidates for the BA degree may take any foreign language to meet the foreign language requirement. Students who double major with a BA in Philosophy and a BS degree in Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, or Physics may waive the foreign language requirement.

Course Requirements

History of Philosophy

Select one of the following: 3
PHIL 1110 Western Philosophy I: Antiquity to the Renaissance
PHIL 3301 Ancient Philosophy
PHIL 3302 Medieval Philosophy
And one of the following:
PHIL 1111 Western Philosophy II: Descartes to the Present
PHIL 3303 Early Modern Philosophy
PHIL 3304 19th and 20th Century Philosophy


Select one of the following: 3
PHIL 1160 Critical Thinking (MOTR PHIL 101)
PHIL 3360 Formal Logic

Normative Philosophy

Select one of the following: 3
PHIL 1030 Present Moral Problems
PHIL 1130 Approaches to Ethics (MOTR PHIL 102)
PHIL 4430 Social and Political Philosophy
PHIL 4435 Classical Ethical Theory
PHIL 4438 Recent Ethical Theory

Junior Level Requirement

Select one of the following: 3
Any 3000 level Philosophy course not used to satisfy a requirement above, excluding PHIL 3320

Metaphysics and Epistemology Requirement

Select one of the following: 3
PHIL 3340 Knowledge and Reality
PHIL 4440 Theories of Knowledge
PHIL 4445 Metaphysics

Senior Capstone Requirement

Select any 4000 level Philosophy course, excluding PHIL 4458 and PHIL 4465, that has not been used to satisfy a requirement above

Elective Hours


Total Hours


Departmental Honors

Majors with a 3.2 or higher grade point average in all courses may, with the department’s consent, earn departmental honors by:

  1. Taking, Introduction to Formal Logic;
  2. Completing at least 3 hours of PHIL 4450, Special Readings in Philosophy;
  3. Submitting an acceptable thesis before the end of the senior year.

Review Full Degree Requirements Review Sample Four-Year Plan

Non-Missouri Residents: Prospective students are responsible for reviewing the NC-SARA state authorizations page to see if this program is offered in their state throughout their program and to review the licensure or certification requirements for the state in which they reside.

Student organizations

Make new friends and learn new skills by joining one of our Recognized Student Organizations. Here are several opportunities you may be interested in as a philosophy major:

Honors College

The UMSL Honors College is a certificate program that can be paired with any major without adding extra classes or extending time to graduate. Classes in the Honors College are seminar-style, meaning that they are based in reading, writing, discussion, and critical thinking. This unique class format fosters an intellectual climate centered around democracy, diversity, civility and academic excellence.

Undergraduate research

We encourage and support students as they engage in exciting activities in and outside of the classroom that enrich their academic and professional understanding of their chosen area of study. All majors are encouraged to participate in Undergraduate Research and Scholarship to produce discipline-specific intellectual or creative innovations to their field.