From reading the works of Plato and Aristotle to studying logic and phenomenology, the Department of Philosophy provides a broad-based learning experience. One of the arts and humanities disciplines in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the program also examines the intersection of philosophy with other subjects, including law, biomedicine, science, and politics.

Below are the majors and minors the Department of Philosophy offers:

Traditional Philosophy Major   Philosophy & Public Affairs Option

PHIL 1051 Introduction to Philosophy

Recommended Course

PHIL 1051 Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 2045 Introduction to Logic
PHIL 2111 Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
PHIL 2112 History of Modern Philosophy

and one of the following four courses

PHIL 3113 19th Century Philosophy
PHIL 3172 American Philosophy
PHIL 4192 Analytic Philosophy
PHIL 4193 Phenomenology and Hermeneutics

Foundational Courses

PHIL 2045 Introduction to Logic
PHIL 2111 Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
OR PHIL 2112 History of Modern Philosophy

and two of the following three courses

PHIL 2131 Ethics: Theory & Applications
PHIL 2132 Social and Political Philosophy
PHIL 2136 Contemporary Issues in Ethics

Four electives
Chosen from 2000, 3000, or 4000 level PHIL courses*
Electives Four electives
Chosen from 2000, 3000, or 4000 leve PHIL courses*
Two Proseminars
PHIL 4198 taken twice during the junior and/or senior years

Honors Thesis Option**
One Proseminar (PHIL 4198) AND
**Directed Readings & Research (PHIL 4199)
and Honors Thesis
Additional Requirements Two Proseminars
PHIL 4198 taken twice during the junior and/or senior years

Honors Thesis Option**
One Proseminar (PHIL 4198) AND
**Directed Readings & Research (PHIL 4199)
and Honors Thesis
Total of 10 PHIL courses (30 credits) for each major

All current GW students will be able to graduate as philosophy majors under the previous requirements.

* For students who have taken two or more 1000-level philosophy courses, one may be counted as an elective for the major.

** Honors Thesis Option muist be first approved by Department Chair & Honors Thesis Advisor. Please see for more information. 

Curricular Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 18 credits, including 6 credits in required courses and 12 credits in elective courses

  • two courses chosen from:
    • PHIL 2111: History of Ancient Philosophy
    • PHIL 2112: History of Modern Philosophy
    • PHIL 3113: 19th Century Philosophy
    • PHIL 3172: American Philosophy
    • PHIL 4192: Analytic Philosophy
    • PHIL 4193: Phenomenology and Hermeneutics
  • four electives (where no more than one may be a 1000 level course)

Curricular Requirements

The requirements for the minor are 18 credit hours chosen from the Course List below. At least 12 credits must be at the 2000-level or higher. Students must take at least one course from philosophy and at least one course from mathematics. No more than two courses may count towards fulfilling both a student’s major requirements and the requirements for a minor in logic.

Course List

The following courses may count towards the minor in logic:

Philosophy Courses
  • PHIL 2045 – Introduction to Logic
  • PHIL 2121 – Symbolic Logic
  • *PHIL 4196 – Special Topics in Theory of Knowledge
  • *PHIL 4199 – Readings and Research (in Philosophy of Mathematics)

*PHIL 4196 and PHIL 4199 must be individually approved by a faculty member in the Philosophy Department on the basis of the course’s content that semester. 

Mathematics Courses

  • *MATH 1009 – Mathematical Ideas
  • MATH 3710 – Introduction to Mathematical Logic
  • MATH 3720 – Axiomatic Set Theory
  • MATH 3730 – Computability Theory
  • MATH 3740 – Computational Complexity
  • *MATH 6995 – Readings and Research

*MATH 1009 and MATH 6995 must be individually approved by a member of the Philosophy Department on the basis of the course’s content that semester.

Computer Science Courses

  • CSCI 1112 – Algorithmic Data Structure
  • CSCI 3113 – Foundations of Computing
  • CSCI 4222 – Theory of Computer Translators

Linguistics/Anthropology Courses

  • LING 3691 – Language and Linguistic Analysis
  • ANTH 3691 – Language and Linguistic Analysis

Curricular Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 18 credits, including 9 credits in required courses and 9 credits in elective courses.

Course List

Required Courses (9 Credits)

  • PHIL 2131: Ethics - Theory & Applications
  • PHIL 2135: Ethics in Business and the Professions
  • PHIL 2136: Contemporary Issues in Ethics


Three additional courses (9 credits) from the following:

  • PHIL 2124 or PHIL 2124W: Philosophies of Disabilities 
  • PHIL 2125 or PHIL 2125W: Philosophy of Race and Gender
  • PHIL 2132 or PHIL 2132W: Social and Political Philosophy 
  • PHIL 2133: Philosophy and Nonviolence
  • PHIL 2134: Philosophy of Human Rights
  • PHIL 2281: Philosophy of the Environment
  • PHIL 3142 or PHIL 3142W: Philosophy of Law
  • PHIL 4195 or PHIL 4195W: Topics in Value Theory


Researchers seeking to understand relationships between mind and brain are increasingly turning to methods and theoretical perspectives from a broad range of disciplines, including psychology, biology, computer science, economics, anthropology, philosophy, and linguistics. This new, multidisciplinary new field of study has already yielded exciting discoveries and more are anticipated in the future. The undergraduate minor in Mind-Brain Studies provides an ideal means whereby students majoring in Anthropology, Philosophy, Psychology, and Speech & Hearing can augment their curricula to participate in this new field at the cutting edge of mind-brain research. The minor curriculum draws on a combination of psychology and philosophy core courses and more than 20 elective choices. Class options include Psycholinguistics, Theory of Knowledge and Speech and Language Disorders. 


A minimum of 18 credit hours.


Required Courses (6 credits)

  • Phil 3153 - Mind, brain, and artificial intelligence
    Investigation of the nature of mind from a variety of perspectives, including neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence, as well as traditional philosophy of mind. Possible additional topics include consciousness, mental disorders, animal minds, and the nature and meaning of dreams. Saidel, Zawidzki. 
  • Psych 3122 - Cognitive Neuroscience
    How the structure and functions of the brain are related to cognitive processes and their associated behaviors. The biological bases of behavior and mental activity. Research and case studies by cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and linguists, focusing on how the brain affects pattern recognition, attention, short-term and long-term memory processes, and language. Shomstein.

Electives (12 credits)

Students must choose 4 courses from this set, with the restriction that the complete set of courses taken for the minor can include a maximum of two courses from any one department.

  • Anth 1005 - The Biological Bases of Human Behavior
    Human behavior from an evolutionary perspective, including issues such as communication, intelligence, reproductive behavior, parental behavior, aggression, and cooperation, and drawing on an understanding of the behavior and biology of the nonhuman primates. Bernstein, Richmond.
  • Anth 3413 - Evolution of the Human Brain
    Exploration of how the human brain is distinctive in its organization, function, and development as compared with other species. Links between the evolution of psychological specializations and their neural substrates in humans are also discussed. Sherwood.
  • Anth 3601 - Language, Culture, and Cognition
    The role of language and culture in the organization of human experience. Beginning with debates about linguistic relativity, the course explores the way language use shapes cognition and practice in a variety of cultures and social contexts. Dent, Kuipers.
  • Anth 3603 - Psycholinguistics
    Language as species-specific property of the human mind. Psychological processes involved in the encoding and decoding of language; first and second language acquisition and bilingualism. Staff. BiSc 2220 – Developmental Neurobiology The molecular mechanisms that guide neural development: events surrounding the birth of neurons, how specific neurons are determined, how neurons find the correct targets, how cell death guides proper neural development and synapses are formed and maintained. O’Halloran.
  • BiSc 2452 – Animal Behavior
    An evolutionary approach to the study of animal behavior, emphasizing behavioral ecology and sociobiology. Staff.
  • BiSc 3320 - Human Neurobiology
    Introduction to the function of the human nervous system, gross and microscopic structure, and neurophysiology of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves; alterations caused by disease or injury. Jeremic.
  • Phil 1153 – Meaning of Mind
    Freshman-level (no prerequisite) introduction to philosophical issues raised by the mind. Focus on what we mean by “mind”, how the mind relates to the brain, the mind-body problem, the problem of freedom of the will, the problem of personal identity, the implications of science for our concept of mind, the possibility of artificial intelligence, and the history of philosophical inquiry into the mind. Zawidzki, Saidel.
  • Phil 3151 - Philosophy and Science
    Analysis of the structure and meaning of science, including scientific progress and theory change, objectivity in science, the drive for a unified science, and ways science relates to everyday understandings of the world. Attention given to various sciences, including physics, biology, and neuroscience. Zawidzki.
  • Phil 3152 - Theory of Knowledge
    Inquiry into the basis and structure of knowledge, the problems of skepticism and justification, the relations between subjectivity and objectivity, and the contributions of reason, sense, experience, and language. Zawidzki, Staff.
  • Phil 3251 – Philosophy of Biology
    An introduction to conceptual and methodological issues raised by contemporary biology, including teleology, reductionism, units of selection, the structure of evolutionary theory, genetics, taxonomy, and the nature of scientific explanation. Other issues may include the nature–nurture debate, creationism/intelligent design, the evolution of altruism, and the relevance of evolutionary theory to ethical questions. Saidel, Zawidzki.
  • Psych 2014 - Cognitive Psychology
    Introduction to the study of cognition; review of data and theories on the topics of perception, attention, memory, language, reasoning, and decision making. Dopkins, Staff.
  • Psych 3118 - Neuropsychology
    Analysis of neural processes underlying behavior. Basic structure and functions of the nervous system, with emphasis on sensory processes, learning and memory, motivation, and emotion. Rothblat.
  • Psych 3121 - Memory and Cognition
    An examination of the psychological processes underlying human memory and cognition. Topics cover theoretical and experimental issues involving a range of cognitive function from attention and pattern recognition to learning and memory. Sohn.
  • Psych 3124 - Visual Perception
    An overview of human perception, ranging from the detection of simple stimuli to the identification of objects and events. Perceptions of color, motion, and spatial layout. Research methodology, biological foundations, and theoretical issues. Staff.
  • Psych 8203 - Learning, Memory, and Cognition
    Current conceptions of learning, memory, and cognition; the research upon which these conceptions are based; applications to practical contexts. Dopkins.
  • Psych 8204 - Biological Basis of Behavior
    Introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system. Topics include neural communication, sensory processes, memory, neuroendocrinology of sex differences and stress, psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Rothblat.
  • Sphr 1071 - Foundations of Human Communication
    An introduction to the fundamental principles of the biology of speech, hearing and language, language structure and use, and human communicative interaction. Emphasis on the cognitive, linguistic and evolutionary foundations of language and communication. Subiaul, Thothathiri.
  • Sphr 2104 - Speech and Language Disorders
    Survey of the nature and causes of developmental and acquired disorders of speech and language. Emphasis on prevention and effective communication with persons having a speech–language impairment. Williamson.
  • Sphr 2106 - Anatomy and Physiology for Speech and Hearing II
    Anatomy of the ear; physiology of hearing; anatomy of the brain and spinal cord; physiology of the nervous system. Brewer, Schulz.
  • Sphr 2131 - Language Acquisition and Development
    This course covers central issues in language development. Is the human mind specially designed to acquire language? Is there a critical period for language acquisition? How much does language ability depend on the input given to the child? We will discuss these important issues in the context of language development in typically developing children and special populations. Topics include preverbal abilities, phonology, words, syntax and pragmatics. Thothathiri.
  • Sphr 3116: Brain and Language 
    This course is an introduction to the neural bases of our ability to speak and understand language. You will learn about different techniques used to examine language in the brain and what they tell us about how healthy adults process language and how language breaks down in populations with congenital and acquired disorders. Thothathiri.
  • Sphr 6291 – Selected Topics in Speech: Language Pathology
    Autism Theory and data of autism. Subiaul.

For more information, contact: Dr. Tad Zawidzki (Philosophy) at [email protected].

The department offers the following degree programs:

  • Dual Bachelor of Arts with a major in philosophy and Master of Arts in the field of public policy with a concentration in philosophy and social policy
  • Dual Bachelor of Arts with a major in philosophy (public affairs focus) and Master of Arts in the field of public policy with a concentration in philosophy and social policy

Undergraduates in the major may apply to the program upon completing 12 hours of coursework in philosophy at the 100-level or higher and after completing 75 credits in the BA program.  Students must apply before their final year. 

To qualify for admission, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.3 and a grade point average of 3.5 in philosophy coursework.

To pursue our combined BA/MA program, please do the following:

  • Meet with the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Eric Saidel, to discuss eligibility and department specific application requirements.
  • Complete the 'Combined Bachelor's/Master's Program Application for Admission. The application form must be signed by the Director of Graduate Studies. 
  • Submit completed and approved application to the CCAS Office of Graduate Admissions (Phillips 107).

Upon admission to the BA/MA program, students must complete all the requirements for the BA in Philosophy or Philosophy (public affairs option) as set out in the University Bulletin, with the exception that a set number of courses from among the MA requirements must be taken as part of the BA program. Students pursuing a combined degree with an MA in Philosophy and Social Policy are to take three double-counted courses. 

  • At least two of these three courses must be selected from among the public policy core courses listed in the description of the MA program in the University Bulletin. Both courses will count as electives toward the BA degree requirements among the "four additional philosophy electives numbered 2000 or above."
  • Students then must complete all the requirements for the MA as set out in the University Bulletin, double-counting the courses mentioned above towards both the BA and the MA.