The Major in Philosophy

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts

Students majoring in philosophy must complete 30 semester hours (10 departmental courses); at least 18 hours (6 courses) must be at the 300 level or above.

Majors must take the following courses:
PHIL 281 History of Philosophy I, PHIL 283 History of Philosophy II, and either PHIL 210 Logic or PHIL 310 Mathematical Logic.

In addition, majors must take at least one course from each of the following area lists:

History: PHIL 381 Ancient Philosophy, PHIL 383 Modern Philosophy, PHIL 386 Continental Philosophy.

Core Analytic: PHIL 318 Philosophy of Language, PHIL 320 Metaphysics, PHIL 330 Philosophy of Mind, PHIL 345 Theory of Knowledge, PHIL 350 Philosophy of Science.

Value Theory: PHIL 360 Ethics, PHIL 362 History of Ethics, PHIL 370 Social & Political Philosophy, PHIL 373 Philosophy of Law, PHIL 372 History of Social & Political Philosophy.

For general information regarding the frequency of course offerings, please see the FAQ page.

In addition to the departmental requirements for the major, students must also satisfy the distribution requirements and complete no fewer than 60 semester hours outside the departmental requirements for a total program of at least 120 semester hours.

Transfer Credit

Approval of transfer credit is always done on a case by case basis, but we can provide some guidelines that may help speed up the procedure. In all cases, we need to know where the course is being/was given, how many hours it meets, what the reading list for the course is, what the requirements are (papers, tests, projects, etc.) and the credentials of the instructor.

For regular lower level courses at accredited four year US colleges and universities, approval is fairly routine. For lower level courses at community colleges and foreign institutions, further scrutiny is required. For upper division courses, we need to verify that the requirements are comparable to an upper-level Rice philosophy course, e.g., that significant papers are required for courses other than logic. We do not approve transfer credit for on-line courses.

Procedure for Transfer Credit equivalent to Rice Philosophy courses:

1. Obtain the course syllabi for the classes you would like to convert from TRAN to Rice equivalents. Course equivalence depends primarily on the readings and writing requirements, so be sure that this information is included on the syllabus. 
2. Look at the Rice Course Catalog and match up the transfer classes to Rice classes. 
3. Send the syllabus and your proposed course match, by email, to the transfer credit advisor for the Philosophy Department (Charles Siewert at He will examine the course syllabus, determine if there is an equivalence, and reply to your email with the result. 
4. If there is an equivalent Rice course, fill out the Undergraduate Request for Transfer Credit for the specified courses. Then bring the form to Humanities 223 - the clip outside the office door is the drop-off box for transfer credit forms. The transfer credit advisor will sign it, and you can pick up the form at your convenience in the same place. (Copies are made of all signed forms.) 
5. Submit the completed form to the Office of the Registrar. 

If you have any questions about this process, please email Charles Siewert at, or come to office hours at Humanities 223 (Wed 3-4pm, or by appointment).

Distinction in Research

Students must submit an application to be considered for "Distinction in Research in Philosophy" at May graduation by April 1st, or for December graduation, by November 1st each year.

Minimum qualifications are a 3.5 GPA in philosophy courses and enrollment in the Honors Thesis course PHIL 498 or 499 or the Research Seminar for majors PHIL 400. The work is to be considered must be submitted by May 1 or December 1 to a committee appointed by the Chair, which will include the Director of Undergraduate Studies, any Honors Thesis supervisors and the instructor(s) of the Research Seminar. The recommendation of that committee will be communicated to the department by May 10 or December 10 for the final decision of the department.