Be a thinker for progress

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students studying
Kayaking on Lake Champlain
A campus near a lake
Engaging classroom lectures
Classroom learning
Twilight view of the Davis Student Center

Philosophy is all about the here and now -- we help students develop the reasoning and analytical skills necessary to grapple with real-world contemporary problems.

The analytic and critical skills students develop as a result of grappling with philosophical problems are applicable to decisions that must be made, for example, in industry, debates on public policy, medical ethics, law, and education. On a more personal level, the study of philosophy can help you to understand yourself as a thinking, acting being. Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” He meant especially to include self-examination. What beliefs are important to you, and how rationally defensible are those beliefs? What principles do you cite for the actions you perform, and do those principles stand up to scrutiny?

Major requirements

Beyond the classroom

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The UVM philosophy department is committed to providing enriching experiences outside the classroom that will challenge students to apply philosophical tools to important questions. Faculty encourage qualified students to pursue year-long College Honors thesis projects or independent study projects.

Students also have opportunities to bring current philosophical questions out of the academy and into the public square. Tyler Doggett, UVM associate professor of philosophy, is principal organizer of Public Philosophy Week held each spring. Typically the event includes at least a dozen discussions, presentations and readings that apply a philosophical lens to the ethics of food, immigration issues, animal rights, and many other issues.  

“We come up with a variety of venues and presenters,” explains Doggett. “We want to make it convenient for people to attend sessions and move the discussion away from the campus and into the community. It's also a great way for students to get involved and present their ideas and research."

Read more about Public Philosophy Week.


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Where alumni work

  • Cleveland Clinic (Emergency Services Institute)
  • New York Times (Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist)
  • Independent Filmmaker
  • State of Vermont (Sec. of State)
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison (philosophy professor)

Graduate Schools

  • Cornell University
  • Florida State University
  • Harvard Law School
  • Harvard University
  • New York University
  • Rutgers School of Communication and Information
  • University of California, Irvine
  • UVM College of Medicine
  • Virginia Tech

Related Information

Learning Outcomes

Graduating philosophy majors should be able to:

  1.  read philosophical writing closely, discerning the structure of philosophical argumentation;
  2.  accurately and critically analyze arguments and positions; and
  3. write clear and coherent philosophical prose.