Area of Focus
  • Humanities
  • Behavioral & Social Sciences
Degrees Offered
  • B.A.
  • M.A.
  • Ph.D.
  • Undergraduate Minor
Academic Division
  • Humanities
  • Philosophy

Program overview

Philosophy investigates fundamental questions 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 ancient and modern philosophical texts.

Student reading outdoors

Learning Experience

Students of philosophy can pursue a broad range of topics of 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.

5. An ability to think critically and creatively about a broad range of conceptual issues and questions.

Fifth Year M.A. Pathway

A pathway has been created for well-prepared undergraduates to complete both bachelor's and master's degrees in five years. Sample Academic Plan for a First-Year Philosophy Major

Study and Research Opportunities
  • Participate in the spring quarter departmental Undergraduate Colloquium.
  • Live and study in another country through UC's Education Abroad Program.
  • Pursue independent research and publish in the department's student-led undergraduate journal, Kalopsia.
  • Write a senior essay under the mentorship of a faculty sponsor.
  • Apply to undergraduate conferences for the opportunity to attend and present original philosophical works.
  • Compete in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl; attend the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics conference.

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

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.


Transfer Requirements

This is a non-screening major. 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. Visit ASSIST.ORG  to see which courses will articulate as equivalent to UCSC philosophy courses.

Summer Session may offer the opportunity to satisfy a Logic or an Intro course prior to fall matriculation. Offerings vary each year.

Students studying

Internships and Career Opportunities

  • Non-profit work
  • Ethics (tech, medical, legal, business, clinical, etc.)
  • Government service
  • Human Resources, employment, etc.
  • Law
  • Ministry, other religious work
  • City planning, architecture, design
  • 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.

Program Contact



apartment 220 Cowell College
phone (831) 459-2070