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Major in Philosophy of Science

About the Philosophy of Science Major


Philosophy of Science Major Checklist


Philosophy of science is a field that concerns the nature of science in general, and of individual branches of science. This includes identifying what distinguishes good science from bad; assessing and evaluating forms of scientific reasoning, and the conditions under which they are most reliable; exploring what makes scientific activity distinctive; how theories effectively explain the world, how they are confirmed or supported, and the relation between theory, evidence, and scientific practice; how scientists shift from one set of commitments to another; and the moral dilemmas and social implications of science, among other philosophical issues around science. Philosophers of science identify the core commitments of scientists and particular branches of science; participate in the conceptual debates in the sciences; act as science critics to help identify good from bad science; and consider how our best science bears on long-standing philosophical problems. The best philosophy of science is well-informed by the sciences, and often done alongside and in collaboration with scientists.

This major is designed to provide students with a technical grounding in a scientific or social science discipline of their choosing; core knowledge in ethical, analytical, and logical reasoning; and highly developed verbal and writing skills. Specialized tracks provide options for students that include focused studies in ethical and social implications of science, logical and formal reasoning, etc. Philosophy of science majors will be highly competitive for spots in elite graduate and professional programs, or positions in complex and technical industries.

Why major in Philosophy of Science?

Students who major in philosophy of science are going to be passionate about science or the social sciences and looking for a genuinely interdisciplinary major to explore that passion.  This is a major that does more than provide content across disciplines, it draws on a multitude of disciplines that intersect students' interests around a theme.  This encourages innovative, creative, and critical thinking about scientific and philosophical issues.

Practically speaking, many (if not most) philosophy of science majors will also be STEM or social science majors.  We designed the major around Gen Ed pathways, helping STEM and social science majors complete their degrees efficiently.  This is a great way to enhance your science or social science major, and to give you an edge when applying for jobs, graduate schools, or professional programs.  Philosophy majors score at or near the top of most graduate entrance exams, and we expect philosophy of science majors will do even better.  Adding a philosophy of science major to a STEM degree will set you apart and train you in the skills that will help you advance your career.



Course Requirements

Philosophy of Science Major

Global Requirements

  • Complete both the philosophy and science track
  • Complete core science requirements
    • 1 of Math 1050, 1170, 1210, or equivalent or higher
    • 1 of Math 1060, 1180, 1220, or equivalent or higher
    • 3 additional College of Science courses (any level)
  • Two 5000+ level courses
    • 1 from PHIL/HPSCI
    • 1 from disciplinary focus (if no 5000+ courses offered, 4000+ may be used in place by permission)
    • Honors: 1 additional 5000+ course from either PHIL/HPSCI or disciplinary focus
  • Notes:
    • Lab/Research credit hours towards HPSCI major is limited to 3 credit hours
    • Internship credit ineligible towards HPSCI major




Eligible Courses

Philosophy of Science (core)

(PHIL 3350 is required)



PHIL 3350 History & Philosophy of Science (CW) (required)
PHIL 3310 Science & Society (HF)
PHIL 3370 Philosophy of Biology (CW)
PHIL 3375 Philosophy of Social Science
PHIL 3440 Cognitive Science (HF)

PHIL 3870 Philosophy of Race (by permission only)

PHIL 301X Special Topics (by permission only)

PHIL 3380 Feminist Philosophy of Science (CW,DV)

PHIL 3950 History of Women in Science, Technology, and Medicine
PHIL 4380 Philosophy of Physics

HPSCI 3900 Special Topics (2nd course by permission only)

HPSCI 3950 History of Women in Science, Technology, and Medicine

Philosophy of Science



PHIL 5200 Advanced Deductive Logic (*)

PHIL 5210 Advanced Inductive Logic (*)

PHIL 5220 Rational Choice Theory (*)

PHIL 5350 Topics in Philosophy of Science

PHIL 5360 Topics in the History of Science
PHIL 5370 Topics in Philosophy of Biology

PHIL 5375 Topics in Philosophy of Social Science

PHIL 5450 Philosophy of Mind (by permission only)
PHIL 5520
Advanced Bioethics (*)

PHIL 5530 Environmental Ethics (*)
PHIL 5192 Philosophy of _____ (by permission only)

HPSCI 5900 Special Topics in HPSCI (by permission only)

Logic & Formal Methods



PHIL 3200 Deductive Logic (QB,QI)

HONOR 3300 Honors Deductive Logic (QB,QI)
PHIL 3210 Inductive Logic
PHIL 5200 Advanced Deductive Logic 
PHIL 5210 Advanced Inductive Logic
PHIL 5220 Rational Choice Theory




PHIL 3390 Tech & Design Ethics

PHIL 3520 Bioethics (HF)
PHIL 3530 Environmental Ethics (HF)
PHIL 3570 Research Ethics
PHIL 4540 Engineering Ethics
PHIL 5520 Advanced Bioethics
PHIL 5530 Environmental Philosophy

History of Philosophy



Any course satisfying PHIL’s Area III History of Philosophy requirement will meet this requirement (excluding PHIL 5360 History of Science)

PHIL 3013 Philosophy of _________
PHIL 3040 20th Century Analytic Philosophy
PHIL 3060 20th Century Continental Philosophy
PHIL 3100 Survey of Ancient Greek Philosophy
PHIL 3110 Survey of Medieval Philosophy
PHIL 3120 Survey of Early Modern Philosophy
PHIL 3130 Survey of 19th Century Philosophy
PHIL 3810 Existentialism
PHIL 3850 History of African American Philosophy
PHIL 3860 History of Latin American Philosophy
PHIL 4140 Classical Chinese Philosophy
PHIL 5040 Advanced 20th Century Analytic
PHIL 5060 Advanced 20th Century Continental
PHIL 5100 Advanced Ancient Philosophy
PHIL 5110 Advanced Medieval Philosophy
PHIL 5120 Advanced Early Modern Philosophy
PHIL 5145 Topics in Classical Chinese Philosophy
PHIL 5193 Philosophy of  ____________




ANTH 3134 Language, Thought, and Culture: The Anthropology of the Human Mind (BF)
ANTH 3283 Sex & Gender (DV)
ANTH 3245 Human Migration and Social Change (IR)
ANTH 3481 Evolutionary Psychology
COMM 3115 Communicating Science, Health, and Environment
COMM 4360 Consuming Earth
COMM 5360 Environmental Communication
COMM 5365 Communicating Climate Change
ECON 3100 Labor Economics (QI)
ECON 3200 Money & Banking (QI)
ECON 3500 International Economics (QI, IR)
ENGL 3080 Studies in Environmental Literature (HF)

ENGL 5760 Studies in Victorian Literature (with pre-approval &  permission only)
ENGL 5920 Intellectual Movements (with pre-approval & permission only)
HIST 4075 Introduction to the History of Science
HIST 4080 History of Medicine in Western Society (IR, HF)
HIST 4085 History of Technology
HIST 4270 Empire & Exploration (with pre-approval & permission only)
LING 3300 Computers & Language
LING 4160 Language & Cognition (HF)
LING 4170 Biolinguistics
WRTG 3014 Writing in the Sciences (CW)
WRTG 3705 Rhetoric, Science, and Technology Studies (BF, HF)

Minimum Required Philosophy Courses



*Must total at least 24 credits, otherwise additional eligible courses are required to raise total to 24 credits.

Minimum Required Science Courses

 4 upper-division courses in a single discipline


The Science requirement may be met either by (a) majoring in an approved science or social science; or (b) taking a designated number of upper-division courses in a single scientific or social science discipline (option (b) includes specific disciplinary requirements and constraints as detailed in Appendix B, and typically requires at least  4 courses in a single discipline).

**Coursework must total at least 9 credits; otherwise additional eligible courses are required to raise total to 9 credits.

Minimum Required Philosophy of Science Courses to Complete the Major



Students must satisfy both the Philosophy and the Science requirements.

Classes marked with an asterisk can only count toward one major requirement. They cannot fulfill both. Please contact philosophy of science major advisor with questions.

The Grade Requirement has three parts. First, only coursework taken for a letter grade will contribute to the above requirements; CR/NC coursework will not count. Second, no individual course receiving a grade lower than C- will count for any of the above requirements. Third, the overall grade-point average (GPA) for courses meeting the above requirements must be at least 2.00.

How to complete the Science Track:

The science track can be completed by taking one of the following paths:

1.  Earn a degree in a College of Science major;
2.  Earn a College of Social and Behavioral Sciences major (or other approved major)
3.  Complete a Focused Disciplinary Pathway;
                 a.  4 unique upper-division courses from a single focused science, social/behavioral science, or other approved discipline; and 
                 b.  Satisfy prerequisites for each course; and
                 c.  Coursework must total at least 11 credit hours
4.  Earn an Approved Certificate or Minor from the following:
                 a. Climate Change Certificate
                 b. Dark Sky Studies Minor

5. Note: All upper-division independent study courses have to be pre-approved.

Pre-Approved Courses in numerical order (SPRING 2019 - Current)
* = approved as an elective; ^ = approved as HPSCI core course

PHIL 3011 Ethical and Technological Advances in Medicine (Spring 2019)*
PHIL 3011-004 - Ethics and Wilderness Medicine (Spring 2023)*
PHIL 3012 History and Philosophy of Chemistry ^
PHIL 3012  Philosophy of Forensic Science ^
PHIL 3013 History of Philosophy, Math, and Logic ^
PHIL 3012-002 Philosophy of Time Travel (Fall 2022) ^
PHIL 3013-002  Alien Invaders! Biological Invasions in Science and Science Fiction (Spring 2020)^
PHIL 5450-001  Philosophy of Mind (Fall 2022)^

See the courses list located on the undergraduate tab.

Students interested in becoming philosophy of science majors should meet with our advisor, Connie Corbett. There are no special admissions or application procedures. Just take our classes and sign up!

Transfer Students 

The Department of Philosophy is strongly committed to helping transfer students succeed. If you are interested in transferring into our program from another college or university, the best way to put yourself into a position to succeed is to complete pre-requisites for your science and social science courses. Being able to get into the upper-division (3000, 4000, 5000-level) science /social science courses quickly will ensure you are able to complete the major science track in an efficient manner. The philosophy courses included in our major will help satisfy a number of your General Education requirements along the way. 


Last Updated: 9/26/23