The Major & Double Major

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For students majoring in any other field, we strongly recommend a double major in philosophy. Philosophy might be the most useful major offered at Brockport. In addition to learning what some of the best minds in human history had to say about a wide range of important issues, our philosophy majors not only acquire but learn to integrate three skills, especially, in order to solve problems and meet challenges:

  • Deep Reading
  • Rigorous Thinking
  • Clear and Concise Writing

By helping students to acquire these skills and to learn how to integrate and use them, the study of philosophy comes closest to fulfilling the function of a liberal arts education. The liberal arts—from the latin artes liberales—are literally the arts (i.e., skills) of the free person, one free to choose his or her profession. The liberal arts are skills that apply to all professions. By learning to read deeply, to think rigorously, to write with clarity and precision, and to bring all of these skills to bear upon a wide variety of issues, our philosophy majors are well prepared to apply these skills in any profession they choose, as the evidence below reveals.

For more information, click on the following links or just scroll down:

Comparing Philosophy Majors to Other Majors
Articles about Majoring in Philosophy
Philosophy Major Requirements
Philosophy Minor Requirements

Comparing Majors

One way to evaluate a major is by comparing how students with the major compare to students with other majors in terms of scores earned on standard post-graduate exams such as the GMAT (the exam for business school), the LSAT (the law school exam), and the GRE (the exam for graduate school). Below are the comparisons. (Each chart links to the relevant literature.)

Philosophy Majors and Business School:

Average of mean scores 06 - 11

On the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) from 2006 to 2011, the average of mean scores for philosophy majors was higher than that of any business major. See chart above.

In fact, for every year from 2006 to 2011, philosophy majors had a higher mean score than that of any social science major (psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.), any humanities major (English, journalism, art history), and the majority of natural science majors (e.g., chemistry and the biological sciences).

Philosophy Majors and Law School:

Periodically studies are published comparing how different majors on average perform on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The two charts below are the latest of such studies. They are also indicative of a well-known trend: Of all undergraduate majors, philosophy majors at least tie for the second highest average scores on the LSAT, just behind physics majors.

Average 2008 - 2009 Average 2003 - 2004

Philosophy Majors and Graduate School:

On the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), for the academic year 2011-2012, students intending to study philosophy in graduate school:

  • had the highest average verbal score,
  • had the highest average analytic writing score, and
  • had a higher average quantitative score than that of students intending to study either one of the other humanities, one of the life sciences (except biology—the scores were tied), or one of the social sciences, except economics.
Verbal Quantitative Analytical Writing

So, philosophy might be the most useful major offered at SUNY, Brockport. It is also the perfect complement to any other field of study. If you would like to know more about philosophy or what a philosophy major can do for you, come on by. The Department of Philosophy is located on the first floor of Hartwell Hall (one floor up from the ground floor.) Or contact Dr. Gordon Barnes at

Artlces About Majoring in Philosophy

If you are considering a major or double-major in philosophy, we think you will find the following articles interesting:

φ  Yahoo! Finance, "A Philosophy Degree Earns More Than an Accounting Degree"
φ  The Huffington Post, "The Unexpected Way Philosophy Majors Are Changing The World Of Business"
φ  Salon, "Be Employable, Study Philosophy"
φ  The Atlantic, "Is Philosophy the Most Practical Major?"
φ  Businessweek, "Philosophy is Back in Business"
φ  U.S. News and World Report, "Learn Philosophy"
φ  The Guardian, "I think, therefore I earn"
φ  New York Times, "Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life And in Work"

Major Requirements

A philosophy major/double-major requires only 10 courses (30 credit hours):

1. Six Required Courses

Course Title Cr. Hours
PHL 101 Introduction to Philosophy 3
PHL 102 Introduction to Ethics 3
PHL 205 Modern Logic 3
PHL 304 Ancient Philosophy 3
PHL 305 History of Modern Philosophy 3
PHL 396 Seminar on Philosophical Problems 3
PHL 491 Seminar on Individual Philosophers 3

2. Four Elective Courses

Four PHL courses, at least two of which must be upper-division courses. 12

Total: 30

Minor Requirements

Students with a minor in philosophy must complete 18 credits in philosophy courses, at least nine of which must be upper-division (300/400 level) courses.

Last Updated 10/12/17

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