Philosophy investigates fundamental questions about the basic human thoughts concerning knowledge and belief (epistemology), the nature of reality (metaphysics), and morality and aesthetics (value theory). The department offers courses that relate traditional questions to contemporary work in literature and the social and natural sciences. In addition, the department offers several courses that make a careful study of the classic texts in philosophy, ancient and modern.
Students of philosophy can pursue a broad range of topics of the greatest historical, intellectual, and personal interest. Philosophy majors should emerge with the following knowledge and skills:
1. An ability to argue cogently for a philosophical point and to analyze and criticize the arguments of others.
2. A familiarity with the central concepts and key debates in the core areas of contemporary philosophical thought, including ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology.
3. A familiarity with the works of the major figures in the history of philosophy.
4. A familiarity with formal logic, including the ability to carry out proofs within symbolic formal systems.
Study and Research Opportunities
- Participate in the spring quarter departmental Undergraduate Colloquium
- Live and study in another country through UC's Education Abroad Program
- Compete for funding through the Humanities Undergraduate Research Awards (HUGRA)
- Write a senior essay under the mentorship of a faculty sponsor
- Apply to undergraduate conferences for the opportunity to attend and present
- Compete in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl; attend the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics conference
Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)
High school students planning to major in philosophy at UC Santa Cruz should obtain a solid background in English, mathematics, sciences, social sciences, and writing skills while completing the courses required for UC admission.
Information for Transfers
Proposed philosophy majors should complete at least one equivalent to a required lower-division introductory course: PHIL 11, Introduction to Philosophy; PHIL 22, Introduction to Ethical Theory; or PHIL 24, Introduction to Ethics: Contemporary Moral Issues.
Logic courses offered by community colleges will NOT fulfill the department’s formal logic requirement. Check ASSIST.ORG to see which courses will articulate as equivalent to UCSC philosophy courses.
Summer Session may offer the opportunity to satisfy Logic or an Intro course prior to fall matriculation. Offerings vary each year.
- Ethics (legal, business, clinical, etc.)
- Government service
- Health care, nursing, etc.
- Ministry; other religious work
- Planning, architecture, design
- Social work, counseling
- Software development
- Teaching (all levels)
- Writing (journalism, publishing, editing)
These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.
The Education Abroad Program (EAP) offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study at more than 100 host universities and colleges in 40 countries as part of their regular UC academic program. Students receiving financial aid can apply their award to a program abroad. Students participating in EAP may petition to count up to two courses toward upper-division credit in the philosophy major.
Awards, Honors, and Recognitions
Associate Professor Jonathan Ellis is the Director of the Center for Public Philosophy. Among other projects the Center will host the Northern California High School Ethics Bowl on January 14, 2017.
Assistant Professor Samantha Matherne received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in support of her book, "The Philosophy of Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945)".
2010 alumnus Ryan Shannon returns to campus on October 17, 2016 to share his experience in law school as a Philosophy major. Since 2015 Ryan has been a Legal Fellow with the Earthrise Law Center at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, OR working with environmental non-profits involved in litigation.
Philosophy Memorial Scholarships: Dr. Raihan Kadri (1998) died at the age of 26 in 2014. Matthew Margulis (2016) passed away during his senior year.
Philosophy faculty research interests: philosophy.ucsc.edu/faculty/faculty-interests.html
General Catalog Information
220 Cowell College
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064
(831) 459-2650 (fax)