Why Study Philosophy?

You’ll be challenged to reflect on some of life’s most interesting and important questions — questions about the nature of the world, human nature, and human flourishing. You’ll improve your ability to make and evaluate arguments and evidence, and develop an integrative vision for life. At Wheaton College, you’ll be equipped with critical thinking skills and intellectual independence that will serve you well in any career path. Philosophy has been a popular major for those pursuing education, law, and ministry, but it is equally useful for individuals wanting to go into business, medicine, entertainment, and public service.

major tracks: integrated and regular
full-time faculty

Why Study Philosophy at Wheaton?

Ask life-orienting questions — questions, for example, about the existence and nature of God; about why there is evil and suffering in this world; whether morals are objective; and, what kind of fundamental structure characterizes human beings and the world in which we find ourselves. Studying philosophy at Wheaton will give you the opportunity to study these questions (and more) with a community of Christians convinced that the pursuit of philosophical questions is, ultimately, part of our pursuit of Christ, the Logos.

A degree in philosophy from Wheaton will help you understand and evaluate complex and controversial ideas, develop skills in argument analysis, construction, and evaluation. Deepen your ability to think independently and creatively. These abilities are crucial skills that can contribute to success in a variety of career and life contexts.

In short, philosophy provides foundations for thinking across the academic disciplines and hones your thinking skills that can be applied in nearly any walk of life.

We are pluralist, teaching a broad array of philosophical methods, with top faculty who are both continentally- and analytically-trained, and deeply committed to their Christian faith.

Our large and active department includes 60-90 majors in any year and offers many opportunities to engage with the discipline including:

  • research with faculty
  • small mentoring classes
  • teaching assistant positions
  • the chance to hear top scholars through our Speaker Series
  • a highly-engaged student-led philosophy club
  • Internships. Liberal arts students with internship experience benefit greatly as they transition from Wheaton into careers. Philosophy internships are an important link between the academic study of philosophy and the practical application of philosophical concepts and methods. There are almost no limits to the sorts of internship opportunities students may explore. To gain philosophy internship credit, a student must register for either a 2-hour or 4-hour internship course and meet with the Philosophy Internship Advisor. The advisor assigns pre-reading to be done before the internship begins that ties to the philosophical aspects of the internship, and throughout the internship the student works through philosophical questions at the intersection of their coursework and internship work, culminating in a final paper.
  • Global & Experiential Learning – semester study abroad programs, summer study abroad programs, spring break co-curricular trips.

What Will I Learn?

There are several types of Philosophy major, depending on how deep you want to go into the discipline, and what other academic interests you may have.

Full Philosophy Majors: The full Philosophy major requires 32 hours of coursework in Philosophy. You should enroll in the Regular Philosophy Major if your appetite for philosophy goes deeper, or you desire to pursue graduate study in philosophy or some other discipline for which more philosophical training may be beneficial, for instance seminary or law. Students interested in a German Philosophy major can take some courses with readings in German along with German language courses and earn a German Philosophy Major. There is also a double major option for Philosophy and Art History.

Integrated Philosophy Major: Designed to encourage philosophical study in conjunction with some other area of academic concentration, this major allows students to combine philosophy classes with philosophically oriented classes in any other discipline. Most integrated majors require 24 hours of philosophy coursework and 16 hours in another discipline (12 hours can also be counted toward a second major, if desired)

Students in any major can complete a Philosophy minor by taking 20 hours of philosophy courses.

Please consult the Course Catalog for specific details.

A departmental honors program requires an honors thesis, PHIL 499.

Consult the course catalog for full listing of current courses available in this field.

Possible Careers for Philosophers

Philosophy has been a popular major for individuals pursuing education, law, and ministry, but it is equally useful for individuals wanting to go into business, medicine, entertainment, and public service. The Center for Vocation and Career will be happy to partner with you in exploring the wide variety of career options available to you with this flexible major.

Here is a sampling of where a few of our Philosophy alumni have found employment:

  • Wheaton College, president
  • Christianity Today, editor
  • National Institutes of Health, bioethicist
  • Lurie Children’s Hospital, director, client services
  • Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, project officer
  • S. Department of Justice, federal judge
  • Army, medical diagnostic
  • Nordstrom, corporate strategy analyst
  • Harvard University, Cornell University, Princeton University, Fuller Theological Seminary, University of Chicago, Keough School of Global Affairs, Virginia Military Institute, professor

We have graduates working in law, medicine, education, business, ministry, social services, and just about every career imaginable. Philosophy students develop skills in clear thinking, analytical reasoning, and persuasive writing and speaking, all of which are in high demand regardless of one’s career choice. 

  • Boston College
  • Cambridge University
  • Claremont Graduate University
  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Northwestern University
  • Princeton Divinity School
  • Rutgers University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of St. Andrews
  • University of Toronto
  • Yale University
Our graduates have gone on to earn J.D., M.Div., M.D., M.B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in a variety of fields, including philosophy, history, English, Bible and theology, world religions, intellectual history, psychology, sociology, chemistry, and physics.
My undergraduate studies at Wheaton prepared me incredibly well for my master’s program at Loyola Marymount University. My professors at Wheaton taught me to ask questions in ways that drove discussion deeper and further and made research and lengthy paper writing at a graduate level seem easy. — Donald Boyce '12
Dr. Adam Wood’s Philosophy courses gave me tools for free and clear thinking that will be with me for a very long time. — Benjamin Holland '13
Wheaton College really prepares you for graduate school in philosophy. The emphasis on the history of philosophy is invaluable in preparing you for graduate work as it helps frame the questions you engage with in a more complete and comprehensive way. — Marshall Thompson '15