In the Philosophy & Political Science major, students are introduced to rigorous analysis of their ways of thinking and acting. The mental rigor and investigative habits developed through their philosophical education are focused on exploring the concerns and issues that animate public life. By cultivating the habits of a philosophical mind, students are more prepared to grapple with the major questions and public issues of our time.

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the program are expected to have:

  • Basic understanding of the fundamentals of both disciplines, including knowledge of the history of philosophy and of political science relevant to political philosophy and political theory.
  • Mastery of basic concepts in moral and political philosophy including justice, absolutism, republicanism, state, citizen, contract, authority, equality, and disadvantage.
  • Basic understanding of the history and contemporary practice of political theory from Plato to contemporary political theorists.
  • Basic understanding of political science as practiced within an area of the discipline such as American politics, public policy, comparative politics, international relations, or political theory.
  • Skills of critical thinking, analytical thinking, and written and oral communication, as expected for majors in the two disciplines.


At least six courses in philosophy and six in political science, with a grade of C or higher, are required.

In philosophy (PH) the following are required:

  • CAS PH 300 History of Ancient Philosophy
  • CAS PH 310 History of Modern Philosophy
  • CAS PH 350 History of Ethics
  • Any one of CAS PH 253, 254, 256, 453, 454, 455, 458
  • One CAS PH course at the 200 level or above
  • One other CAS philosophy course

In political science (PO) the following are required:

  • One course at the 200 level or above
  • Three courses in political theory at the 300 or 500 level
  • Two other courses in political science

Note that no more than one 100-level political science course can count toward the major. Also, it is recommended that the first course in political science be a 100-level course in one of the following subfields: American politics, public policy, comparative politics, international relations, or political theory.

One of the above courses must be either a seminar in political science (505+ level) or a 400-level topics course in philosophy.