Philosophy Major

The University of California, Merced announces its new Philosophy undergraduate major that will be offered through the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts (SSHA) beginning Spring 2018.

Philosophy studies issues of basic human importance, such as: what sorts of things exist in the universe, the nature of the mind and thinking, what we can know, what is valuable, how we should treat others, what constitutes the best form of government, and what makes for a good and flourishing life. Philosophers consider theoretical, conceptual, and foundational questions of this sort both on their own and in relation to other disciplinary areas. They study, for instance, mind and consciousness, moral conduct and agency, the organization of social structures, decision making, ethical questions concerning the environment, biotechnology, and business, and questions in the foundations of mathematics, physics, biology, and the cognitive sciences. Philosophy is associated with positive salary and job outcomes, high test-scores on major standardized tests (such as LSAT, GRE, and GMAT), and is a standard precursor to law school and other professional degree programs.

The philosophy major at UC Merced can be completed by taking 2 lower division courses, one reasoning course, 8 upper division courses, and a 1 unit senior capstone course. Thus the major can easily be accomplished in 4 years or less. The 8 upper division courses are distributed across history (2 courses) core areas of contemporary philosophy (2 courses), and applications of philosophy to other areas and domains (2 courses). The remaining 2 courses are elective (they can be be fulfilled by taking any four-credit upper division philosophy course). This curriculum ensures students learn about current work in philosophy, history of philosophy, logic, and ways of applying philosophy (for more on the outcomes promoted by philosophy, see

The major will be open to all students who are otherwise eligible to declare a major at the end of Fall 2017 (freshman, sophomores or juniors in good academic standing). Students with junior standing must apply by the change of major deadline for the Spring 2018 semester to guarantee eligibility to declare without additional petition.

Students who wish to declare the Philosophy major should complete an "Undergraduate Major Change" Form and submit it to SSHA Advising (COB 204). Students who choose to declare one of these majors will be assigned to a 2017-2018 Catalog year and be subject to general education, School, major and minor requirements listed in that catalog.