Skip to Main Content

Apply Now to the University of Wyoming apply now

Degree Requirements

Course Requirements - Majors

B.A. Program of Study in Philosophy

General requirements:

A major in philosophy requires a minimum of 33 hours (11 courses) of philosophy.

At least 9 hours (3 courses) must be at or above the 4000-level. 

At least 15 additional hours (5 courses) must be at or above the 3000-level.  The remaining nine hours (3 courses) may be at any level. 

Only those courses in which a grade of C or better has been earned may count toward the 33-hour requirement. 

The department strongly recommends that prospective majors take PHIL 1000, Introduction to Philosophy, as their first course in philosophy.

Distribution Requirements

Students must choose three of the four distribution areas and take at least 6 hours (2 courses) in each of the chosen areas, including at least one core course in each chosen area.  The distribution areas, with core courses in bold type, are:

  • Metaphysics and epistemology:  PHIL 2310, 3440, 3510, 3560, 4040, 4120, 4190, 4440, 4510, 4560.
  • Ethics and philosophy of value:  PHIL 2200, 2300, 2330, 2345, 3250, 3300, 3350, 4300, 4340.
  • Logic and philosophy/history of science:  PHIL 2420, 3140, 3420, 3500, 4140, 4420.
  • History of philosophy:  PHIL 2100, 3100, 3110, 3120, 3220, 3320, 4020, 4030, 4040, 4100, 4110.

Special topics courses (for example, PHIL 3000, PHIL 4000) are assigned to the appropriate distribution area on a case by case basis.  And some of the courses listed above, especially the graduate seminars in area 4, might count in other distribution areas.  To work out a suitable program, please consult with the department’s undergraduate adviser.

The general level requirement and distribution requirement may be satisfied by the same courses.  That is, a course may satisfy both of these requirements at the same time.  No course may satisfy more than one distribution area, and no course may satisfy more than one general level requirement.

Course Requirements - Minors

A minor in Philosophy requires a minimum of 18 hours (6 courses) of philosophy.

Only courses in which a grade of C or better has been earned count toward the 18-hour requirement.

  • Of the 18 hours, 12 hours (4 courses) must be at or above the 3000-level.
  • Of the 18 hours, the remaining 6 hours (2 courses) may be at any level.


Student Learning Outcomes - Majors

Critical thinking skills.

The corner stone of philosophy is the ability to reason and to think critically, logically, and come to conclusions based on reasoning. This skill is learned and practiced through the entire program.

Understanding of concepts of right, wrong, good and bad; understanding of moral principles and their application in everyday life.

A practical understanding which grounds students and prepares them for applications in professional and personal life.

Read and interpret philosophical texts.

Reading texts and interpreting them is fundamental to all philosophy classes. Using original texts by ancient and modern philosophers, combined with textbooks and other literature as assigned, skill at accurate interpretation and analysis is developed.

Recognize, express, and analyze arguments in philosophical texts.

This is a critical skill to develop in all students, regardless of program, but is especially important for Philosophy students. Students must be able to extract arguments from philosophical texts and from the world around then

Skill in summarization and explaining difficult ideas and concepts.

This goes hand in hand with prior outcome. It is achieved through analysis and critical thinking and student practice in class discussions, presentations, and argumentation. Furthermore, the ability to distill complicated information into a more easily digestable form has applications in every field and profession.

Writing that reflects careful attention to language, logic, and subtleties of reasoning.

A writing intensive major, students are taught skills as to how to write concisely and  clearly, as well how to thoroughly analyze subject matter.

Write philosophical essays that have coherent theses and reasonable supporting arguments.

The ability to craft arguments that are both logical and reasonably supported by evidence is a crucial skill for the modern philosopher.

Learning to understand reality from different perspectives and thus to understand that different people will define issues in different ways.

The ability to separate the self from ones frame of reference is a critical skill in the modern world and encourages both empathy and the willingness to engage with the world from different standpoints.

Skill in research methodology.

Research methodology includes learning to utilize online resources as well as those located at libraries for conducting philosophical research. It involves learning the standards for citation and bibliographies, abstracts and prospectus writing. Most importantly, research methodology teaches students how to pick an appropriate topic, in subject and length, for various academic and professional projects.

Course Requirements - Minor in Ethics

Ethical questions and problems arise in virtually all aspects of life.  It is vital for any educated person to know how to think clearly on their own about matters of ethics.  That’s why the minor in ethics complements and enriches any major field of study, whether it is education, nursing, health, education, communications, business, or the sciences.  The minor in ethics has enough flexibility that students can tailor their courses of study in ethics to match their other academic and career interests.  For example, a student who majors in animal science and minors in ethics might explore questions about the use of animal subjects in experiments; a student who majors in computer science and minors in ethics could examine ethical issues in the use of computers, such as privacy, free speech, and intellectual property rights.

The minor in ethics helps students compete for jobs in the expanding area of professional ethics, as well as for more traditional jobs with their increasing stress on professional ethics.  Nearly all professions now have codes of ethics and many businesses require employees to adhere to various standards of conduct.  Thus a student who majors in business and minors in ethics might serve as a company’s ethics officer; a student who majors in nursing and minors in ethics could help organize and run a hospital ethics committee; and a student that opts for a career in education would be well qualified to help schools develop character education programs for pupils.

The minor in ethics requires 18 credit hours of course work, with 12 hours at the 3000 level or above.  The courses are in three different areas:

  • Ethical Theory:  3 hours
  • Applications: 3 hours
  • Scientific, Historical and Social Analysis:  3 hours

In addition to taking one course in each of the three areas, students will be required to meet the following two additional requirements:

  • Capstone Course:  3 hours (independent study)
  • Electives:  6 hours (2 courses from Areas 1, 2 or 3 -- each from a different area)

The capstone course is an independent study normally taken during a student’s senior year.  The course integrates the student’s different areas of study in the ethics minor into a project or thesis.  Any professor in any college can sponsor this independent study.  Capstone topics must be approved by the ethics minor advisor.

The minor in ethics is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and administered through the Philosophy Department. Any undergraduate student at the university can minor in ethics.

Course Requirements - Minor in Environmental Values

The minor in Environmental Values may be added to any bachelor's program at UW. This minor creates a vital link among the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences through exploration of aesthetics, culture, ethics, and policy.The minor requires a total of 18 credit hours, including at least one course within each of four areas of concentration. At least 12 of these credits must be outside the primary major, and nine of these credits must be at or above the 3000-level. A three-hour, core course (either Phil 2330 Environmental Ethics or Phil 2340 Natural Resource Ethics) is required of all students.

Areas of concentration: 
Aesthetics - Expressing ourselves through the performing, visual and literary arts.

Course #

Course Name

ART 4640 Art and Ecology <C3, W3>
ENG 4050 Nature Writing
ENG 4240 19th Century English Literature: Romantic Period
G&R 4500 American Landscape
G&R 4530 Images of Wyoming and the West
THEA 2400 Vertical Dance I
THEA 3400 Vertical Dance II


Culture - Viewing human meaning and purpose in historical and contemporary terms.

Course #

Course Name

AIST 3000 Plains Culture and History
AMST 3000 Cultures of Nature <C1, W2>
ANTH 4310 Environmental Anthropology
ENG 2400 Introduction to Folklore
ENG 4480 Regional Literature of the US: The West
ENR 2000 Environment and Society <W2, C2, G1; G>
G&R 1050 Introduction to Natural Resources <C2, G1>
HIST 4475 American Environmental History <C2>
PHCY 4380 Ethnopharmacology <C2, G1>


Ethics - Considering right and wrong via critical and systematic thinking and doing.

Course #

Course Name

PHIL 2330 Environmental Ethics <C1; CH>
PHIL 2345 Natural Resource Ethics
PHIL 3300 Ethical Theory <C1>
PHIL 3350 History of Moral Philosophy
PHIL 4340 Topics in Environmental Ethics
RELI 2060 Nature and Spirit <C1>


Policy - Exploring laws, regulations, and public discourse in American society.

Course #

Course Name

AGEC 4710 Natural Resource Law and Policy <C2>
AIST 4340 Natural Resource Management on Western Reservations
ECON 2400 Economics of the Environment <C2, W2>
ENR 4900 Environment and Natural Resource Policy Practice <C2, W3; CS, WC>
G&R 4040 Conservation of Natural Resources <C2, G1; CS, G>
G&R 4400 Public Land Management
MGT/BADM 4580 Business, Environment, and Natural Resources
POLS 4051 Environmental Politics <C2, W3; WC>
POLS 4052 Federal Land Politics

Contact Us

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Ross Hall Rm. #223

1000 E. University Ave.

Dept. #3392

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3204



1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
UW Operators (307) 766-1121 | Contact Us | Download Adobe Reader

Accreditation | Virtual Tour | Emergency Preparedness | Employment at UW | Privacy Policy | Harassment & Discrimination | Accessibility Accessibility information icon