Philosophers seek to understand the fundamental nature of ourselves and the world around us. We pursue questions concerning ethics, social policies and norms, the nature and limits of knowledge and the character of the mind. Our work often begins with reflection on every day experience and involves close interpretation and analysis of philosophical texts, primarily from the western tradition. We consider the entire range of human inquiry and cultural expression, including the natural and social sciences, arts, business and policy studies and the humanities. Because philosophy intersects with so many disciplines and intellectual pursuits, it lends itself well to double-majoring and enriches interdisciplinary study.

Philosophical inquiry requires, and enables students to develop, a wide range of skills: reasoning, listening and reading both charitably and critically, writing and speaking clearly, engaging multiple perspectives and analyzing complex problems. These skills, along with the enhanced awareness and understanding that philosophical inquiry enables students to develop, are foundational to many forms of intellectual endeavor and to practical and moral decision-making. Thus philosophy majors find that their study of philosophy lays a groundwork for almost any field of work or path in life they choose.


The Bachelor of Arts degree is offered in philosophy.

Philosophy Major

Bachelor of Arts

Philosophy strives to deepen our understanding of ourselves, others and the world around us. It aims to articulate and examine our most fundamental assumptions, raising questions and encouraging reflection about generally unnoticed aspects of our everyday lives. Philosophical inquiry involves interpretation and analysis of a rich tradition of powerful philosophical texts; intensive discussion and analysis of problems, questions and theories that emerge from those texts; and probing reflection on everyday experience, human practices and the entire range of human knowledge and study.

Philosophical inquiry requires, and enables students to develop, a wide range of skills, including reasoning, interpretative and critical reading, clarity in written and spoken expression, synthesis and analysis of information, problem solving and appreciation of different perspectives. These skills, along with the enhanced awareness that philosophy enables us to develop, are foundational to most forms of intellectual endeavor, practical decision-making and moral questioning. Thus philosophical training and reflection lay groundwork for any path one may choose in life.

Given the nature of philosophy, combining a philosophy major with a second major in the humanities, the natural or social sciences, the arts or business and policy is an exciting and natural option, with benefit to both the breadth and the depth of a student’s studies.

The major requires a minimum of 32 credit hours (eight courses).

PHIL 111 Ethics - 4 credits
PHIL 200 Informal Logic or 292 Formal Logic - 4 credits
PHIL 310 Ancient Western Philosophy - 4 credits
PHIL 320 Modern Western Philosophy - 4 credits
PHIL 401 Topics in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy - 4 credits
Three additional PHIL courses, at least one of which is a 300-level course - 12 credits

Total credit hours required for A.B. degree in philosophy – 32 credits

Philosophy Minor


The philosophy minor consists of four courses. Together, they enable students to: develop an awareness of the breadth and depth of the field of philosophy; develop the skills used in and virtues central to philosophical inquiry and debate, at least to a degree of excellence reasonable to expect of a non-major; and engage students as active participants in that inquiry and debate.

The minor in philosophy is not available to philosophy majors.

The minor requires a minimum of 16 credit hours (four courses).

PHIL 100 Introduction to Philosophy or PHIL 111 Ethics - 4 credits
PHIL 310 Ancient Western Philosophy or PHIL 320 Modern Western Philosophy - 4 credits
One PHIL course at any level - 4 credits
PHIL 401 Contemporary Analytic Philosophy or PHIL 336, 375, 377 (Other 300-level philosophy courses may be substituted, with departmental approval) - 4 credits
Total credit hours required for philosophy minor – 16 credits

Philosophy at Guilford

Why Philosophy at Guilford?

Many of the questions and concerns that we call “philosophical” have arisen in nearly every age and culture. Confronting those questions and concerns has occupied some of the best minds of those ages. By spending a significant amount of time engaging with their answers, and by developing and refining your own questions and answers, you can progress toward a rich and subtle understanding of the world and your place in it.

However, in addition to providing a solid understanding of others’ views, and perhaps a deeper appreciation of your own, a major in philosophy has other benefits. The serious study of philosophy can develop virtues such as courage, charity and thoughtfulness and strong skills in reasoning, analysis and oral and written communication. Such virtues and skills will serve you well in a variety of paths – not just “careers” – after Guilford. Your choice of a major should not rest solely or primarily on a prediction of how lucrative a certain major is (or isn’t) likely to be. Philosophy, like most other disciplines in the humanities, can prepare you quite well for a variety of occupations, some perhaps more lucrative than others.

One very good source of information on potential career opportunities for the philosophy major can be found at the American Philosophical Association.

“That the study of philosophy is especially effective in enhancing academic skills is suggested by the fact that philosophy majors, as a group, receive exceptionally high scores on the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test), the GMAT (the admissions test for MBA programs) and the GRE (Graduate Record Exam).” Source -

What do philosophy majors do after college?

Guilford philosophy majors have gone on to become philosophy professors, lawyers, bank administrators, ministers, computer programmers, social workers, academic administrators, building contractors, musicians and MBAs.

Many have pursued graduate work in a wide range of fields, including library and information science, environmental studies and political science. A number of double-majors have pursued graduate degree programs associated with their other major and report that their philosophy major enhanced their work in those programs, including psychology, science, technology and society, dramatic arts and creative writing, to name only a few.

Well-known philosophy majors

Include U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., William Bennett (former Secretary of Education), mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark, social activist and political philosopher Angela Davis, film director Peter Lynch, novelist and MacArthur prize recipients Rebecca Goldstein and David Foster Wallace, TWA CEO Carl Icahn, former Secretary of Defense and World Bank Director Robert MacNamara, TV movie critic Gene Siskel and Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Philosophy Faculty