Student Learning Outcomes

Current for the 2016/17 academic year

Consistent with our mission, it is expected that students graduating with a B.A. from the program will have gained both “Knowledge Of” and “Knowledge How” with respect to philosophy. These expectations are delineated as follows*: 

Knowledge Of:

Knowledge of philosophy is understood to consist of two distinct, though not mutually exclusive, subcategories—historical knowledge and topical knowledge.

1.      Historical knowledge

Familiarity with the basic ideas of at least three major historical figures, of whom the following are representative:  Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Mill, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger.

2.      Topical knowledge

An understanding of the basic issues and terminology in the following areas:  logic, metaphysics or epistemology, and ethics or aesthetics.

Knowledge How:

Students in the program should be able to demonstrate proficiency with each of the following skills:

1.      Critical thinking:  The ability to distinguish between and assess the strength of arguments and explanations.

2.      Reading comprehension:  The ability to explain, interpret, and evaluate philosophical texts.

3.      Writing skills:

(a)    The ability to present ideas clearly and with minimal grammatical and other writing errors.

(b)    The ability to conduct research in accordance with generally accepted standards within the discipline.

(c)    The ability to write in a way that reflects careful attention to language, logic, and subtleties of reasoning.


* All core courses have specific, measurable learning outcomes tied to these department goals.