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A 2 + 2 Plan Leading to a Bachelor of Arts
or Bachelor of Science Degree in Philosophy


All degree requirements are subject to the provisions and notices in the NIU Undergraduate Catalog.  Information is valid through August 2015.


B.A.  or B.S. in Philosophy

A baccalaureate degree program in philosophy strongly supports the central mission of any university. It aims at improving the overall undergraduate experience not only for majors in philosophy but also for students across all fields of study who enroll in philosophy for general education or elective credit.

Philosophy is the investigation of enduring and foundational questions about ourselves, the world, and our place in the world, such as: What is real? Is the mind distinct from the body? Do we have free will? What can we know, and how can we know it? What makes a belief justified? Does God exist? Are there objective moral truths? If so, what are they and how can we know them? Why should we be moral?

The department offers an undergraduate major leading to either a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science degree, allowing students maximal flexibility in tailoring their programs of study to their intellectual interests.  Students interested in literature and foreign languages are better served by the B.A. degree track, whereas students interested in the sciences and mathematics are better served by the B.S. degree track.  The two degree tracks also allow students in any degree program to easily add philosophy as a second major. Either degree can be received with departmental honors.

Features of the Philosophy Program at NIU

An Excellent Faculty. The Department of Philosophy at NIU is nationally renowned for its outstanding graduate faculty, because of whom its graduate program is ranked second in the nation among terminal M.A. programs in philosophy.  All members of the graduate faculty teach undergraduate courses each semester, including introductory-level general education courses.  Undergraduate students at all levels therefore have the opportunity to study with the department's nationally renowned faculty.  Feedback from students and graduates consistently praises the quality of teaching in the department along with faculty attention to and concern for students.

Availability of Graduate Teaching Assistants. The department's nationally ranked M.A. program attracts promising young teacher/scholars who carry out indirect instructional responsibilities under the direct supervision of faculty.  The responsibilities of graduate teaching assistants include grading, tutoring, and maintaining regular office hours.  The availability of these highly qualified teaching assistants provides undergraduates ready access to additional help with questions or problems concerning course assignments or lectures.

Program Size. Although contained within a large and diverse university, the philosophy program is comparatively small.  Undergraduates receive individualized attention from their professors, student/facutly interaction is frequent, and upper-division class sizes are conducive to in-depth discussion and dialogue.  Surveys of current majors and of recent graduates indicate these factors as being among the program's greatest strengths.

Preparation for Success in Diverse Careers and Occupations

The study of philosophy imparts skills and capabilities that are conducive to success in a wide variety of careers and occupations.  Indeed, a degree in philosophy provides excellent preparation for graduate study in many academic disciplines; for professional studies in fields such as law, medicine, or business; and for a wide variety of careers in educaiton, business, government, industry, information technology, non-profit organizations, and social service.

According to PayScale, philosophy majors who choose to enter the work force directly after graduation from college are most frequently employed as retail store managers, program coordinators in non-profit organizations, paralegals, senior software engineers/developers/programmers, information technology managers, and general/operations managers.  The State of Illinois Occupational Employment Projections (Long-term) 2006-2016 lists all of these as growth fields.

A major in philosophy is also excellent preparation for further graduate and professional study.  Philosophy majors average among the highest scores of all majors on standardized tests for admission to graduate and professional schools, including business and law.  (For more detailed information, please see ).

The B.A. program in philosophy was chartered in 1972 by Phi Sigma Tau, the National Honor Society in Philosophy.

Important Information

If you plan to major in philosophy when you enroll at NIU after you complete your two years of study at a community college, you should:

  • Take community college courses that are the equivalent of the courses you would take if you were to complete your first two years at NIU.
  • Commit yourself to achieving a solid preparation for continuing success during your junior and senior years at NIU.

Consult your community college counselor and adviser in order to determine what courses in your community college are the equivalent of the courses listed. Your counselor and adviser have access to the Articulation Tables, which provides all of the information you will need.

Suggested Semester Plans

ENGL 103   ENGL 104  3
BA/BS Requirement1 3   BA/BS Requirement 3
Math Core2 3-4   PHIL 100/200 level 3
Soc Science Gen Ed 3   Humanities/Arts  Gen Ed 3
Humanities/Arts Gen Ed   Math/Science Gen Ed 3-4
  15-16     15-16
COMS 100 3   PHIL 100/200 level4 3
BA/BS Requirement 3   BA/BS Requirement 3
PHIL 100/200 level 3   Humanities/Arts Gen Ed 3
Humanities/Arts Gen Ed 3   Social Science Gen Ed 3
Math/Science Gen Ed 3-4    Minor Requirement 3
  15-16     15


PHIL 205   PHIL 322 3
PHIL 321 3   PHIL 301 3
Interdisciplinary Gen Ed 3   Additional Gen Ed Area 3
Additional Gen Ed Area 3   Minor Requirement 3
Minor Requirement  3   Elective  3
  15       15
PHIL Area Requirement4 3 PHIL Area Requirement4 3
PHIL Elective5 3   PHIL Elective5 3
Minor Requirement 3   PHIL 4956
Electives 6   Minor Requirement 3
15   16

1 Previous foreign language background may reduce or fulfill this requirement; consult the NIU catalog for further information on the B.A. requirement in foreign language. B.A. students must also fulfill the core competency requirement in mathematics.

2 Not more than 9 semester hours at the 100/200 level will count toward electives for the major.

3A minor is strongly recommended.

4 Students must take one course at the 300/400 level from each of the following fields: Ethics and Value Theory, Metaphysics or Epistemology.

5 At least 7 semester hours of 400-level course work in philosophy is required to complete te major.

6 PHIL 495 must be taken concurrently with another 400-level course of the student's choice.  See the Undergraduate Catalog for further details.

Minimum 120 total; 40 at the 300-400 level


For More Information

Department of Philosophy
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115