Advice for Ethics and Public Policy Majors

Students taking the major with an emphasis in ethics and public policy may also want to begin with an introductory-level course (PHIL 100 or PHIL 150). Otherwise, a good place to begin is with the history sequence (PHIL 260-261) or logic (PHIL 340-341) as these provide excellent background for other courses. The history sequence is required for anyone majoring in philosophy with an emphasis in ethics and public policy. Logic, though not required, can always be counted as an elective.

Of the other required courses, PHIL 150 (Ethics in Theory and Practice), PHIL 220 (The Nature of Legal Reasoning), PHIL 310 (Topics in Ethics and Public Policy), PHIL 350 (Ethics), and PHIL 355 (Social and Political Philosophy) can all be taken at pretty much any time. PHIL 350 is offered every year in the fall, and PHIL 220 is offered every spring. The times when the other courses in this list will be offered are less predictable. Students will need to monitor coming offerings rather carefully.

The other required course—the Advanced Seminar—is a course it generally makes sense to put off until your junior or senior year. The kind of work you are likely to be asked to do in that course is usually easier and more profitable for students who have already taken a considerable amount of philosophy. (Note, by the way, that PHIL 495 can be taken more than once. For those who do take it more than once, the additional section or sections may be counted as electives.)

Finally, bear in mind that if your philosophy major is not a part of a double major, you must also complete the requirements of a minor of at least 18 hours.

For further advice, see our four year plan for students pursuing the major with an emphasis in ethics and public policy.


The advice offered here is not meant to substitute for the detailed advice you can get from your adviser. You should make arrangements to see your adviser early and often. Doing advising is a part of his or her job.