University of South Carolina


Philosophy: What to Expect

Philosophy majors at the University have a wide range of educational opportunities. The department emphasizes analytical reasoning both for general education and as a preparation for pre-law students. As a Philosophy major you will work with outstanding faculty members who promote study opportunities both at the University and overseas. You will learn how to reason analytically and develop the ability to argue persuasively. The courses you will take promote reflection on either the historical developments in philosophy or on ethical values as they relate to business, engineering, morality, politics, and social justice. You may also choose to pursue research opportunities in nanotechnology.

The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for Bachelor of Arts with a major in Philosophy:

  • Introduction to Logic I
  • Seminar in Philosophy
  • Ancient Philosophy
  • American Philosophy
  • Ethics in Food

A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. Philosophy majors have studied in exciting places including Bielefeld and Darmstadt in Germany and Manigault in France. You may choose to intern, volunteer, or conduct research abroad. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. Getting involved in an organization that interests you can help you network, meet new friends, and develop leadership skills. You can also seek out volunteer opportunities that relate to your major. Find a student organization on campus that interests you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. Many Philosophy majors pursue graduate study in Philosophy, Rhetoric, or Religious Studies. Many also go on to professional studies in law, divinity, and medicine.
Distinguished Faculty can help enhance your overall academic experience while at the University. Dr. Kevin Elliott is a 2009 recipient of the Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award, in part for his course Ethics of Food. He also teaches courses that cross disciplinary boundaries, address issues of vital public importance, and offer individual students possibilities for making significant service contributions. Dr. Christopher Tollefsen teaches courses primarily in the field of ethics where he seeks to do ethical reasoning in his course presentations and stimulates students to come up with their own personal thinking. Dr. Jerry Wallulis is also an outstanding faculty member who seeks to make the thinking of difficult historical philosophers come alive by making it understandable to students and relatable to their own personal questions and issues.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding entering freshmen or current students. The Department of Philosophy offers several scholarships each year. Philosophy majors can compete for the Edna W. and Foster E. Tait Scholarship, the James W. Oliver Award in Logic, or the Josiah Morse Award in Philosophy.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Philosophy majors at the University have had a wide range of exciting and unique research opportunities. Students have been awarded Magellan Grants to conduct research. Some students have even pursued research opportunities in Germany.

Career Opportunities

Many Philosophy majors pursue graduate studies following graduation. Graduates that pursue a career following graduation often seek employment in a variety of industries including banking, retail management, industrial marketing, distribution, production, insurance, grant development, government agencies, military, graphic arts, and community agencies.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

About the Department of Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy focuses its research on the social effects of science, in particular the ethical issues that arise with the new developments in nanotechnology. The department teaches general education classes for the University and the College of Arts and Sciences in addition to a full-major program. The department has compared well in comparison with other departments from major state universities in obtaining research funding for its projects. In formulating and advancing its research, the department has developed close and vibrant interdisciplinary connections with many other departments and programs at the University. The Department of Philosophy is in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Points of Pride

  • Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Tom Burke, received the Joseph L. Blau prize awarded by the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy.
  • Dr. Kevin Elliot is a 2009 recipient of the Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award. Members of the Department of Philosophy have received continuous funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2003 in the area of the ethical and societal implications of nanotechnology.
  • Bradley Setzler, an undergraduate Philosophy major, was designated the rapporteur for the 2010 conference “Creating Capabilities,” sponsored by the Law School of the University of Chicago.

Additional Resources
Department of Philosophy Website
College of Arts and Sciences Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin