Question, seek, and reason while preparing for careers in law, business, and education. You’ll do that here.

A philosophy degree emphasizes problem solving, expressing ideas, techniques of logical reasoning and the formulation of arguments. It’s perfect for careers in politics, law, business, religion, mathematics, science and more. All meaning you’re preparing for a multitude of career options.  
You’ll also be ready for further education. Nationally, graduates in philosophy outperform most other majors on tests such as the GRE, LSAT, and GMAT. Overall, philosophy majors have the highest verbal score and second highest analytic score on the GRE. At Southeast, 100% of the philosophy graduates who have applied to graduate or law school have been accepted. 

What You'll Do

As a philosophy major at Southeast, you’ll be challenged to think systematically and analytically while broadening your communication skills. 

  • Engage with exceptionally well qualified faculty members who work closely with students in small settings. 
  • Gain hands-on real-world experience in a practicum, professional conference, or internship. 
  • Prepare for graduate or other advanced study.

What Can You Do with a Philosophy Degree?

Your education is just one piece to launching an extraordinary career. Once you’ve mastered the material, you still have to find the job you want, make the right connections, sell your knowledge and experience—and if all this is giving you anxiety, don’t panic. SEMO’s Career Services office is here to help you with the next step. They’ll provide the expertise and support you need, so you’re landing your dream job in no time. 

Advanced Degree Opportunities of Recent Graduates

  • Harvard University Law School
  • University of Missouri Law School
  • Washington University Law School
  • StLouis University Law School
  • Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Law School
  • University of Arizona
  • Washington University
  • University of Indiana
  • Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
  • Western Michigan University

Internship Opportunities of Recent Graduates

  • Office of the Governor
  • Missouri State Senate
  • Missouri House of Representatives

Outcomes & Careers

  • 94%

    Successful Outcomes Rate

    Students graduating with degrees from the Department of Political Science, Philosophy, and Religion report being employed or furthering their education six months after graduation.

  • $141k

    Lawyers & Judges

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for lawyers, judges and other related jobs is $141,180. 

  • $55k


    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for clergy is $55,190. 

  • $120k

    Political Scientists

    Philosophy majors often work in government and politics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for a political scientist is $120,260.

Philosophy (BA) Degree Map

Explore the courses you'll need to complete your degree.

What You'll Study

The philosophy degree curriculum provides knowledge and skills that have immediate practical application, are transferable from one field to another, and are in high demand across a wide variety of careers and professions. You’ll complete a minimum of 120 credit hours to complete this degree, including the general education requirements and at least 39 senior division hours.

(31 Hours – Minor Required)

Required courses:

  • PL300 Ancient Philosophy (3)
  • PL310 Modern Philosophy (3)
  • PL390 Contemporary Philosophy (3)
  • PL400 Seminar: Topics in Philosophy (3)
  • PL450 Seminar: Methods & Movements (3)
  • PL481 Practicum (1)
    Choose one course:
  • PL120 Symbolic Logic I (3)
  • PL330 Symbolic Logic II (3)
    Choose one course:
  • PL203 Aesthetics and the Arts (3)
  • PL204 Ethical Theory (3)
  • PL245 Social & Political Philosophy (3)
    Choose 9 hours:
  • PL/UI XXX Philosophy Electives: Choose PL courses or departmentally approved
    UI courses. (At least one course must be 300-500 level.) PL110 recommended in first

Some requirements may be fulfilled by coursework in major program.

  • Social and Behavioral Sciences – 6 hours
  • Constitution Requirement – 3 hours
  • Written Communication – 6 hours
  • Oral Communication – 3 hours
  • Natural Sciences – 7 hours (from two disciplines, one to include a lab)
  • Mathematics – 3 hours
  • Humanities & Fine Arts – 9 hours (from at least two disciplines)
  • Additional requirements – 5 hours (to include UI100 for native students)
  • Civics examination

Freshman Year    

Fall Semester (16 Hours)     

  • UI100 (1)
  • EN100 (3)
  • PL Elective (3) 
  • General Education (3)
  • General Education (3)
  • General Education (3)

Spring Semester (15 Hours)     

  • PL120/330 (3)
  • General Education (3)
  • General Education (3)
  • General Education (3)
  • Elective (3)

Sophomore Year    

Fall Semester (15 Hours)  

  • PL203/204/245 (3) 
  • Minor Course (3) 
  • General Education (3)
  • General Education (3)
  • General Education (3)

Spring Semester (15 Hours)    

  • PL300/310 (3) 
  • Minor Course (3)
  • General Education (3)
  • General Education (3)
  • General Education (3)

Junior Year    

Fall Semester (15 Hours)    

  • PL390 (3) 
  • Minor Course (3)
  • Elective (3)
  • Elective (3)
  • Elective (3)

Spring Semester (15 Hours)     

  • PL300/310 (3)
  • Minor Course (3)
  • Elective (3)
  • Elective (3)
  • Elective (3)

Senior Year    

Fall Semester (15 Hours)     

  • PL400 (3) 
  • PL Elective (3) 
  • Minor Course (3)
  • Elective (3)
  • Elective (3)

Spring Semester (14 Hours)  

  • PL450 (3)
  • PL481 (1)
  • PL Elective (3) 
  • Minor Course (3)
  • Elective (3)
  • Elective (1) 

Real-World Opportunities

  • Jefferson City Legislative Internship

    Southeast students are highly sought after by legislators in Missouri’s Capitol for the legislative internship experience. The program, while giving invaluable experience to students, can also lead to a career. Many former interns have gone on to government or campaign employment following their internship experience. 

  • Preparing for Law School

    A philosophy degree from Southeast provides a strong foundation for pursuit of law school. In addition to the critical thinking, analytical, and argumentative skills learned, Southeast has an impressive tradition for preparing students. 100% of our philosophy and political science students who apply are accepted to law school, including some of the most impressive in the country like Harvard, Washington University, and University of Missouri.  

  • Center for Strategic & International Studies

    If you hope to put your reasoning skills to work to make the world a better place, Southeast’s partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) could be the experience you’ve been looking for. SEMO students are immersed at the global Washington, D.C. think tank for a week of problem solving while working with policy makers to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems like hunger, cybersecurity, and climate change. Southeast is the only university in the country to have a week-long program with the CSIS for its students. 

  • Accelerated Mizzou Law Program

    Southeast has an exciting partnership with the University of Missouri School of Law that will save students one year of undergraduate school and tuition to get a head start on their career goals in the legal profession. Students complete their major and general education requirements at Southeast in three years, then enter Mizzou law in their senior year, meaning they can complete their first year of law school while credit hours transfer to Southeast for completion of their bachelor’s degree, meaning you get your undergraduate and law degree in just six years. 

"CSIS starts with the idea that the U.S. has certain goal and objectives, and that those objectives can be categorized into seven different areas known as the Seven Revolutions. This way of thinking about the world, and the place our country has in it, has reshaped the way I look at things that I might read about or see in the news."

James Trent Waltz

Thirty Southeast students spent spring break at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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Philosophy Nature and Uses

Philosophy is one of the core liberal arts disciplines. The value and importance of the study of philosophy lies in the first instance in the habits of thought it inculcates, the breadth of vision it encourages, and the perspective it gives us on ourselves, our activities, and our lives among others.  

Philosophy is by its nature one of the purest of the intellectual disciplines. Its concerns are very abstract. It is not a trade (though teaching philosophy, for which graduate study prepares one, is a trade). Its interest and value lies in its helping us to understand ourselves and our world better and more deeply than we otherwise would, and in permanently altering our approach to our lives through encouraging a lifelong habit of reflection on them.  

The study of philosophy can be the beginning of a process whose continuance can immensely enrich one's life, and can open to one views that would otherwise be closed or overlooked.

To say that in the first instance the value of the study of philosophy is not practical is not to say that it has no practical value. Philosophy is harder than the evident importance and attractiveness of many of its central questions can lead one to expect. But precisely for that reason its serious study can greatly enhance one's analytical, critical, and interpretive abilities, as well as one's ability to express oneself clearly and to formulate and respond to arguments in speech and writing.  

  • Philosophy provides one with general problem-solving skills, skills in analyzing concepts, definitions, arguments and problems.  
  • It enables one to organize ideas and issues and to extract what is central to an issue from a mass of information.  
  • It helps one both to make fine distinctions and to find what is common ground between opposing positions.  
  • It also encourages one to synthesize or bring together a range of different views into one more comprehensive and coherent position.  
  • Philosophy improves one's communication skills, through improving one's ability to present ideas in well-constructed, systematic arguments, to express what is unique about one's views, and to explain difficult material.  
  • Writing is taught intensively in philosophy courses, with an emphasis on clarity and rigor of argument, the apt use of example and illustration, and sensitivity to the strengths and weaknesses both of views one is examining and of one's own view.  

These skills in presenting well-thought-out arguments, clear formulations, and apt examples, in turn lend one's arguments persuasive power. And the give and take of philosophical discussion, which is a part of any good program of study in philosophy, improves one's ability to think on one's feet, and to indicate why one's own views are to be preferred to others. Ideally, it aids one also in recognizing when and in what respect one's own views may be incorrect, and what must be revised or discarded and what can be retained.  

Philosophy also, more than many other majors, encourages students to aim to develop their own views on the questions and problems they study, rather than to absorb uncritically material presented as the current state of a subject.  

Philosophy offers one of the best opportunities in the curriculum for pursuing the goal of improving such skills. These general intellectual skills are applicable to any subject matter, or any sort of problem, practical, or theoretical, one may be faced with. The cultivation of such general intellectual skills is one of the most important goals of a university education. This prepares one not just for particular professions, but to learn new skills and knowledge as needed in later life, both in employment and in the larger arena of political and community life which binds us together with common goals. No one learns everything he or she needs to know at the university (let alone in kindergarten!).  

Philosophy makes you intellectually agile, prepares you to meet challenges you have not been specifically trained to meet, and prepares you for serious citizenship. As in the case of other liberal arts majors, it provides the kind of well-rounded education and general intellectual skills that are prized in management in both the private and the public sectors of the economy.  

The main traditional areas of philosophy are ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, logic, and the history of philosophy.  


Ethics is the study of practical reasoning and the normative questions which it gives rise to, as we have seen above. Branches of ethics are political and social philosophy. Existentialism also falls within the domain of ethics. Among other important branches of ethics is applied ethics, which includes bio-ethics, biomedical ethics, business ethics, and environmental ethics, among others.  


Epistemology is the study of knowledge and justification, and of the family of concepts which are involved in our assessing claims to knowledge or justified belief.  


'Metaphysics' (literally 'after' + 'physics') was originally the title of those books in the collection of Aristotle's works that came after the Physics. In its most general use, 'metaphysics' covers any inquiry that raises questions about reality that lie behind or beyond those science is capable of answering. In this sense, 'metaphysics' and 'philosophy', as characterized above, are pretty much synonymous. However, more narrowly, metaphysics is usually taken to comprise mostly questions about ontology (i.e., about what there is, what things exist), and about a set of basic concepts such as those of existence, truth, causation, time, thought, substance, property, and the like. Metaphysics is also the traditional location of comprehensive philosophical systems, such as those of Spinoza, Leibniz, or Hegel.  


Logic is a branch of epistemology which deals with valid arguments, either inductive or deductive, particularly with respect to the forms of such arguments. It plays an important methodological role in philosophy, since philosophy is in part concerned with how much argument can establish a priori. In this century, the importance of logic in philosophy, especially formal logic, has grown greatly. The benefit of this is that it has facilitated the precise expression of both philosophical problems and of proffered solutions. But this has also had the disadvantage of putting much philosophical research beyond the reach of the general public, contributing to the (mistaken) perception that academic philosophy has lost touch with the big questions of philosophy and is irrelevant to the lives of most people.  

History of Philosophy 

The history of philosophy, the last major traditional area in our list, bears a special relation to philosophy which the history of most disciplines do not bear to their current practice. It is not merely that studying the work of great philosophers in the past is valuable as history, or as the history of ideas, but that a proper and deep understanding of the history of philosophy is necessary for an adequate appreciation and understanding of contemporary philosophy--and because, in part due to the nature of philosophical inquiry, there is much that the great philosophers of the past still have to offer in our continuing attempts to grapple with some of the great unsolved problems of philosophy.  

These traditional areas of philosophy are supplemented by a number of additional areas of intense study in philosophy centered around philosophical questions that arise about one or another fundamental aspect of human activity.  

It should be emphasized that despite the division of philosophy into these different fields, it is almost impossible to undertake the investigation of any philosophical problem or question without having to raise and address questions in other fields of philosophy. In considering questions that arise in ethics, one is often led to questions in the philosophy of mind, action, and language, all of which raise fundamental questions about our natures as rational agents. In addition to these subject areas, particular historical figures are subjects of intense study, such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Mill, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, Sartre, Quine, and many other major figures. Likewise, more recent philosophical traditions are often subjects of study in their own right, notably the 20th century traditions in continental and analytic philosophy.  

This list of areas of philosophical study is not exhaustive or static. The core disciplines of philosophy are unlikely to shift, but philosophical inquiry is responsive and responsible to the society and culture in which it takes place. 

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