Philosophy Major Requirements

Students must have taken or currently be enrolled in at least one philosophy course in order to declare the major or minor.  Eleven courses are required for the major:

Introduction (2)

  • 9/Introduction to Logic
  • Plus one of:
    • 11/Introduction to Philosophy
    • 22/Introduction to Ethical Theory
    • 24/Introduction to Ethics: Contemporary Moral Issues

Completion of both Introductory courses is required before enrolling in any History of Philosophy course.

Junior Transfer students who have taken an Introductory course that articulates in will be allowed concurrent enrollment in Logic and 100 their first quarter. 

History of Philosophy (at least 2)

  • 100A/Ancient Greek Philosophy
  • 100B/The Rationalists
  • 100C/The Empiricists

The Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement (for Philosophy Majors) is met by completing two History of Philosophy courses. 

All three History of Philosophy courses are strongly recommended - particularly for students who may undertake graduate-level coursework. 

The third History of Philosophy course will count as an upper-division elective.

Upper-division Electives (6)

Six 5-unit courses numbered 100A or above that satisfy the breadth requirements;

Ethics or Value Theory - at least one

  • Stoic Ethics (PHIL 118)
  • Practical Rationality (PHIL 137)
  • History of Ethics (PHIL 140)
  • Advanced Ethics (PHIL 142)
  • Applied Ethics: Ethics Bowl (PHIL 143)
  • Social and Political Philosophy (PHIL 144)
  • Topics in Feminist Philosophy (PHIL 147)
  • The Holocaust and Philosophy (PHIL 148)
  • Aesthetics (PHIL 152)
  • Philosophy of Race (PHIL 153)

Metaphysics and Epistemology - at least two

  • History of Analytic Philosophy (PHIL 113)
  • Probability and Confirmation (PHIL 114)
  • Formal Methods in Philosophy (PHIL 115)
  • Epistemology (PHIL 121)
  • Metaphysics (PHIL 122)
  • Other Minds (PHIL 124)
  • Philosophy of Science (PHIL 125)
  • Philosophy of Social Science (PHIL 126)
  • Philosophy of Biology (PHIL 127)
  • Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 133)
  • Philosophy of Psychology (PHIL 135)
  • Faith and Reason (PHIL 171)

Students must have completed one History of Philosophy course prior to enrolling in any other upper-division course. Both History of Philosophy courses should be completed prior to enrolling in a third upper division course.

Courses 195A/Senior Essay, 195B/Senior Essay, and 199/Tutorial cannot be counted as one of the six courses.

All upper-division courses must be completed at UC Santa Cruz unless an exception is approved by the undergraduate program director.


Senior Seminar (1 required)

The final comprehensive major requirement is a small seminar (not more than 20 students) that typically requires a senior thesis. At least four 190 courses are scheduled each year and the topics vary by instructor.

During spring quarter junior Philosophy majors are given the opportunity to rank the seminars that will be offered the next academic year. Enrollment is by permission code issued by the undergraduate adviser.

Students may take more than one senior seminar, space permitting, and the course will count as an upper-division elective.

Substitutions (up to 2)

Exceptions or course substitutions may be granted for relevant courses from other departments (such as History of Consciousness) or four-year Universities (such as Berkeley or an Education Abroad Program - EAP). The undergraduate program director will determine if the course is equivalent to a UC Santa Cruz philosophy course.

No more than two substitutions will be allowed.

A grade of B is required.

Requests are made through the undergraduate adviser by providing a course syllabus. In the event a syllabus is unavailable (as is the case for some EAP schools) a list of assignments and coursework can be submitted.


Students who do superior work in an advanced seminar may be awarded a notation of Honors for that course.

In addition to Honors in an advanced seminar, graduating seniors with a distinguished record of achievement in their philosophy courses may be awarded Honors or Highest Honors in the philosophy major. Graduation with Honors in Philosophy requires at least a 3.7 average in all philosophy courses taken at UCSC. Graduation with Highest Honors in Philosophy requires at least a 3.9 average in all philosophy courses taken at UCSC. Students with an average between 3.8 and 3.9 may be awarded Highest Honors by vote of the faculty.

Senior Essay

When a faculty member thinks that a student has done exceptional work that could be carried to a more advanced level, the student may be given the option of writing a senior essay (course 195A). Normally, the senior essay is completed in one quarter; in unusual circumstances, it can be continued for a second quarter (course 195B), but only if the writing requirements for course 195A are completed successfully and on time. The senior essay does not count towards the major.