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Information for Majors (and Propsective Majors)

Here is some information you might find helpful in one way or another.

The topics are:

* WHAT CAN I DO WITH PHILOSOPHY? or Getting Ready For Life After Graduation

Below you'll find useful or interesting information about such things as studying abroad, internships, essay contests, fellowships, grad schools, seminaries, etc. Much of it is also available on the coffee table in the department office, and the bulletin boards inside and outside the office; often it will be marked "For Students" to call your attention to it. If there's anything you'd like to know more about, just ask a faculty member.


Because of the wide range of issues philosophy is concerned with, a philosophy major can be combined very nicely with a concentration in some other area you're interested in. One way to do this is simply to take a set of courses related to this other area. Another way would be to double major, adding a major in the other area to your philosophy major; alternatively, you could just minor in the other area. (If you do a double major, you do not also have to do a minor.)

Here are some examples of what you could do, many of which can also help to satisfy the general education requirements:

Philosophy and:

* Religion: Phil. of Religion, World Religions, Sociology of Religion, Reformation Europe (in HY).

* Artificial Intelligence: Phil. of Mind, Symbolic Logic, relevant psych courses, e.g., Cognition, Psych. of Learning, relevant computer courses (e.g., Artificial Intelligence). Or you could take a minor or second major in Computer Science or Psychology.

* Literary Criticism: Continental Philosophy, relevant courses in English and Foreign Languages. Or you could take a minor or second major in English or Foreign Languages.

* Law, Politics, & Society (LP&S): (A good concentration if you're interested in doing policy work, law, or political philosophy.) There are several relevant philosophy courses (Social Ethics, Phil. of Law, Social-Political Phil.) and lots of possibilities in other departments. For instance: Public Policy, Political Thought, Constitutional Law (all in PSC); Social Problems, Sociology of Law, Urban Sociology (all in SY); Current Global Economic Issues, Economics of Urban Development (both in ECO). Or you could take a minor or second major in Political Science or Economics (either would be particularly good if you're thinking of law school).

* Medicine: Social Ethics, Biomedical Ethics, Health and Culture (AN), Medicine and Society (SY), Health Psychology.

* Social Science: Phil. of the Social and Natural Sciences and courses in the history and/or development of theories in psychology (in PSY), sociology (in SY), anthropology (in AN), and economics (in ECO), maybe combined with a minor or a second major in a social science.

There are many more possibilities but you get the idea: take something you want to focus on and look through the course catalog to see what pertinent courses you can find.

WHAT CAN I DO WITH PHILOSOPHY? or Getting Ready For Life After Graduation

What can you do with philosophy? Just about anything you want.

What people are doing a few years after graduation generally isn't too closely related to what they majored in. So it's probably a good idea to choose a major you're interested in and enjoy, because you're more likely to do well in it.

People with a background in philosophy have done many different sorts of things. Legal and religious professionals frequently have an undergraduate background in philosophy. But philosophy students also enter medicine, government service, finance, management, and many other fields, as this list shows. The American Philosophical Association has also published a booklet discussing what you can do with philosophy and illustrating some possibilities. It's titled Careers for Philosophers and you can get a copy in the department office.

As a philosophy major you will have many useful skills -- reading critically, writing cogently, doing research, formulating and evaluating arguments, interpreting, presenting, and examining differing positions. These are transferable skills which can take you into many different careers and which become more important as your working life develops. However, they won't be immediately apparent to potential employers, so you'll probably need to make some effort to convince them to hire you. There are several things you can do now which will help you convince them later:

Get some experience through:
o extracurricular activities such as writing for the Vanguard, being active in a student organization, or doing volunteer work (check out Volunteer Mobile).
o internships and jobs, including part-time, summer, and co-op jobs. Internships or co-op jobs might involve working with a lawyer, a clergy man or woman, a religious, non-profit, or educational organization, a social welfare organization such as the Child Advocacy Center, Penelope House, or Catholic Social Services (to name just a few), a hospital, or whatever you can think up. (Here are more possibilities.) If you're interested, see the Chair to work out the details.

It also wouldn't hurt to take some "practical" courses, e.g., computers, statistics, economics or even do a minor in an area which potential employers could easily see the relevance of.

But practical considerations aside, people have often found a degree in philosophy worthwhile for its own sake. A liberal arts education is, after all, not an education for a job, but an education for life.

(For other perspectives on all this, check what the philosophy departments at the Universities of Arizona and Louisiana at Lafayette have to say.)

When you do start looking for employment, check out the Career Services Center. They have information about jobs and can help you put together a resume and interview with visiting employers. Some research into what an employer is looking for, combined with some working experience plus the skills you've gained as a philosophy major, should enable you to convince the employer that you can contribute what is wanted, in other words, that you should be hired.


McGLOTHREN SCHOLARSHIP: Mr. Michael McGlothren, who graduated in philosophy and is now a lawyer in town, has provided an annual scholarship of $1000 to recognize the academic achievement of a philosophy major. The chief criterion for eligibility is a GPA of at least 3.0; financial need is not a factor.

PHILOSOPHY CLUB: If you're interested in having a Philosophy Club, we'll be glad to work with you. We can help provide refreshments, announcements, speakers, etc. A club will probably work best if it's kept simple and informal, but one or two people are needed to make sure that the few things that must be done are done.

Here are some ideas for things to do: watch and discuss videos which raise philosophical issues; pose and discuss a specific question, possibly with some background reading from an article or two; have a visiting speaker from the campus, the community, or Spring Hill, or bring someone to town (money can be obtained); get together with the Spring Hill Philosophy Club. (They have a pretty active club and often announcements of their meetings are posted in our office.)

The ALABAMA PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY generally holds its annual meeting in early November. Location varies. Philosophers from around the state give papers and sometimes a famous philosopher is invited to speak. The Society also gives a prize for a student philosophy paper. Info about the prize and the meeting is usually posted on one of the bulletin boards in the office. If you're interested in going to the meeting, talk with the Chair.


Spring Hill College sometimes offers courses in areas we don't. If you're interested in taking such a course, talk with the Chair to see what can be worked out.

If you want to STUDY ABROAD, the University has some programs, as do many other schools, or you could contact a foreign school directly. Some schools in non-English speaking countries have special programs in which English is the language of instruction. For more information, check in the library or hunt around on the Internet. Arrangements could certainly be made for you to study abroad for a semester or a year and have the courses credited to your work here.

Several UNDERGRADUATE CONFERENCES and JOURNALS exist where you might be able to present your work or get it published. To find specific information about these, go to the American Philosophical Association's website and look in the "Resources > Conferences, Seminars, and Calls for Papers" section. A list will be presented which you can then search using the term "undergraduate."


- Take at least one 400 level course in your junior year since two are required for the major but two might not be offered in your senior year.

- The list of tentative course offerings for coming semesters might help in planning your schedule for the following year. If you have questions about specific courses or semesters, check with the secretary or the Chair.

- If you're thinking of grad school, you may need to have an extended writing sample. For some suggestions about this, see the writing sample section below.


Here are some ways to make money. They'll also help you build your resume and get work experience--which will help you get a job after graduation.

You can offer to be a SUPPLEMENTAL INSTRUCTOR or TUTOR: Contact the philosophy department for more information.

The Alabama Philosophical Society offers an annual STUDENT ESSAY PRIZE of $50 for the best student paper. The paper doesn't have to be written especially for the prize, so it could be something you wrote for a philosophy course you've already taken. And it doesn't have to be something you wrote in the last year. If you'd like to submit a paper for consideration, talk with the Chair no later than early October since the deadline is usually around then.

WIESEL ESSAY CONTEST: The prize amounts are $5000, $2500, $1500 and $500. The general topic areas for the essay are usually available in early October; the submission deadline is early in December. The Contest is open to juniors and seniors.

Co-op jobs can earn you money while giving you work experience. For more information, see the comments about jobs in the section about Getting Ready For Life After Graduation.


If you're thinking of going on to FURTHER EDUCATION (grad / law / divinity / med / business school, computer science, joint programs, etc.), here are some sources of information: talk with your professors, check the posters outside our department or in the manila portfolios in the office. Also check the catalogs and reference books in the office and the library, or go to the American Philosophical Association's website and check the "Resources > Department Web Sites" section, where you'll find links to department web sites. You'll find joint programs in such areas as philosophy and law, as well as programs focusing on specific areas, such as biomedical ethics, policy studies, applied philosophy, environmental ethics, philosophy for children, and history and philosophy of science. Seminaries and divinity schools will often give food and an overnight stay to potential students who visit them.

Receiving the Alabama Philosophical Society Student Essay Prize or a prize for a Wiesel Essay would certainly up your chances of getting accepted anywhere--but you can't win if you don't apply. Likewise, tutoring or writing an Honors Thesis could also help, as could giving a paper at an undergraduate conference or publishing in an undergraduate philosophy journal. (See Making Money for more information about tutoring and the essay contests; see Other Philosophy Opportunities for information about finding undergraduate conferences and journals.)

Some grad schools require that your application include a substantial WRITING SAMPLE (e.g., 10 pages) so they can make an estimate about your writing, research, and critical evalation abilities. If you're interested in a school that requires this and won't have such a paper, ask the prof of a course you're taking whether you can do such a paper for the course. Alternatively, you might do a small Directed Study to write the paper or to expand something you've already written. If you're planning to apply to such a school and want to start there the Fall after you graduate, you'll need to get on this no later than Fall of your senior year; Spring semester will be too late.

You might be interested in joining the American Philosophical Association as a Student Associate. This is the national professional association of philosophers, and if you're thinking of going on to grad school, joining would be especially pertinent, in part because you'll get a pretty good sense of what the non-philosophical side of the profession is like. For more information, go to the APA's website and check the "Member Services > Becoming a Member" selection.