About the Department

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 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.

The department’s focal strengths are the core areas of contemporary analytic philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. Department faculty also value the history of philosophy, believing that contemporary philosophical problems are understood most fully within historical context.

The department offers a program of study leading to a Master of Arts degree, an undergraduate major leading to either a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science degree, and an undergraduate minor. It also coordinates the certificate of undergraduate study in applied ethics.