First Year

During your first year, you can choose from among the four courses that compose our Central Philosophical Issues series: Self & Society; Puzzles & Paradoxes; On Being Human; Nature & God; and Philosophical Anthropology (PL 111, 112, 113, 114, and 117, respectively). Each is an introductory course aimed at teaching basic philosophical skills through a focused subject area within the discipline. Only one of these will count toward the major, and you are ready to move to a 200 level course after completing any one of these.

Many students also take Logic (PL 151) during their first year. It is required for the major and also satisfies the college’s Quantitative Reasoning distribution requirement. If you don’t take it during your first year, then we strongly advise that you take it in your sophomore year.

The Reuman Reading Group (PL 277) welcomes students from all class years, and first year students often find it an inviting introduction to the philosophy community at Colby. This is a non-graded, one credit course offered every semester. Students and faculty meet over dinner to discuss a book chosen by the group.

Some students come to the major in their sophomore year, and have no problem completing the major. You can work with your advisor to complete the courses and even study abroad in most cases.

Minors must take a total of 6 philosophy courses, only one of which can be at the 100 level (although both PL 151 and another 100-level course may be counted)​ and one of which must be at or above the 300-level​. Keep in mind that of ​your ​6 courses, ​3​ must fall, respectively, into the three Area Requirements: History of Philosophy; Metaphysics & Epistemology; and Values. Check the Major and Minor Area Requirements page to see which courses fulfill each requirement.

 

Sophomore Year

We strongly recommend that students complete the required history of philosophy courses, History of Ancient Greek Philosophy (PL 231) and History of Modern Philosophy (PL232) during their sophomore year. The first is taught always and only in the fall semester, and the second is taught always and only in the spring semester. In addition, sophomores should enroll in Logic if they have not done so already.

This is a time when you can begin to explore the major by taking 200 level courses, and if you have the prerequisites, even 300 level courses. There are departmental Area requirements in three areas: Values, Diversity, and Metaphysics & Epistemology. Often students satisfy these Area Requirements in the major by simply taking courses of interest, though it’s a good idea to keep an eye on which courses satisfy which Area Requirement each semester. This information is typically listed in the departmental course brochure, made available in the days before registration each semester.

Spring of sophomore year is when most students plan for their study abroad programs if they decide to go on one. The department has several recommended programs [make this a hyperlink to the page with our recommended programs], and your advisor can talk to you in more detail about them. You may take courses abroad that count toward the philosophy major, but they need to be approved before you go on the program in order to receive credit.

By the time you are in your sophomore year, you might want to pursue independent study with a faculty member (PL 291, 292). Typically, this is focused philosophical work that the faculty member is knowledgeable about and interested in. It is best to begin a conversation with the relevant faculty member so that she or he has time to consider your proposal before registration for the semester in which you plan to enroll.

As always, students from all class years are invited to participate in the department’s community life beyond the classroom by signing up for the Reuman Reading Group (PL277) This is a non-graded, one credit course offered every semester. Students and faculty meet over dinner to discuss a book chosen by the group.

Minors must take a total of 6 philosophy courses, only one of which can be at the 100 level (although both PL 151 and another 100-level course may be counted)​ and one of which must be at or above the 300-level​. Keep in mind that of ​your ​6 courses, ​3​ must fall, respectively, into the three Area Requirements: History of Philosophy; Metaphysics & Epistemology; and Values. Check the Major and Minor Area Requirements page to see which courses fulfill each requirement.

 

Junior Year

During your junior year, you should be taking 200 and 300 level courses and working toward satisfying the Area Requirements in the major. This is true whether you are on campus or studying abroad. See “Sophomore Year” above regarding the rules for getting credit in the major for courses you’re taking abroad.

Spring of your junior year is the appropriate time to think about writing an Honors Thesis if you meet the requirements. We typically require an application, accompanied by a prospectus late in your Junior year. If there is a subject area in which you are interested, your first step should be to make contact with the faculty member best suited to supervise the thesis. You will be expected to have completed coursework in the relevant subject area(s) before being approved to take on a thesis project, and typically faculty will only approve thesis projects in areas they are competent and comfortable supervising.

Juniors my enroll in independent studies (PL 291, 292). Typically, this is focused philosophical work that the faculty member is knowledgeable about and interested in. It is best to begin a conversation with the relevant faculty member so that she or he has time to consider your proposal before registration for the semester in which you plan to enroll.

As always, students from all class years are invited to participate in the department’s community life beyond the classroom by signing up for the Reuman Reading Group (PL277) This is a non-graded, one credit course offered every semester. Students and faculty meet over dinner to discuss a book chosen by the group.

Minors must take a total of 6 philosophy courses, only one of which can be at the 100 level (although both PL 151 and another 100-level course may be counted)​ and one of which must be at or above the 300-level​. Keep in mind that of ​your ​6 courses, ​3​ must fall, respectively, into the three Area Requirements: History of Philosophy; Metaphysics & Epistemology; and Values. Check the Major and Minor Area Requirements page to see which courses fulfill each requirement.

 

Senior Year

In the early weeks of your senior year—and perhaps even over the summer before your senior year—you should take a look at your academic record and make sure that you will have satisfied all the requirements in the major. If not, you will need to register for the appropriate courses needed to do so. The department chair often will contact you regarding your progress toward completion of the major, but it is your responsibility to make sure that you have met all the requirements.

Senior year is also a time when students are in need of letters of recommendation for graduate school, fellowships, work, or internships. Typically, you should ask faculty with whom you’ve had more than one course, preferably several courses, since the most informative recommendations come from those who know you and your work well. It is also extremely helpful if you can pass on the following information to the faculty member whom you’re asking for a recommendation: your personal statement (even if it is in draft form); reasons why you are applying to this particular school or program or job; what you think your strengths and weaknesses are; and particular things you think are important for the recommender to know before she or he writes on your behalf. Please plan ahead, giving faculty plenty of notice before deadlines when asking for a letter of recommendation.

If you are working on an honors thesis or an independent study during your senior year, you can ask to participate in the departmental awards ceremony at the end of the year (this is actually a requirement for honors in the major) or in the college student research symposium.

As always, students from all class years are invited to participate in the department’s community life beyond the classroom by signing up for the Reuman Reading Group (PL277) This is a non-graded, one credit course offered every semester. Students and faculty meet over dinner to discuss a book chosen by the group.

Minors must take a total of 6 philosophy courses, only one of which can be at the 100 level (although both PL 151 and another 100-level course may be counted)​ and one of which must be at or above the 300-level​. Keep in mind that of ​your ​6 courses, ​3​ must fall, respectively, into the three Area Requirements: History of Philosophy; Metaphysics & Epistemology; and Values. Check the Major and Minor Area Requirements page to see which courses fulfill each requirement.