Undergraduate Program

Philosophy Major
Philosophy Minor
Kossel Track

Philosophy has played a central role in Jesuit education since its inception, a tradition that is reflected by the place of philosophy in the Gonzaga University core curriculum. Philosophy courses required as part of the University core curriculum for all undergraduate programs aid students in developing skills of thought and logical analysis (PHIL 101), introduce students to sustained reflection on basic questions of human nature and personhood (PHIL 201), and examine the practical and theoretical considerations relevant to human morality and value (PHIL 301). The 400-level elective requirement vitally contributes to a liberal arts education by giving the student critical distance, through philosophical reflection, from immediate involvement in career, professional, academic, and human concerns.

The Philosophy Department also offers courses leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major or minor in philosophy. Beyond courses required by the university core, students must complete an additional nine credits of upper-division course work for a philosophy minor, and twenty-six additional upper-division hours for the philosophy major. Two special features of the philosophy major curriculum are the Philosophy Major Proseminar, which orients new philosophy majors to the main issues and problems in philosophy and offers practice in philosophical writing, and the Senior Seminar. Philosophy majors should register for the Proseminar as soon as possible after declaring a philosophy major, normally in the spring of their sophomore year; the Senior Seminar is a capstone course in the spring of the senior year.

An undergraduate major in philosophy is useful preparation for a variety of careers. The focus on logic, argumentation, and moral theory is valuable to students with career plans in law. Students with interests in business, public policy, or government service can benefit from the many courses which provide reflective analysis on the ways in which political, moral, and social values are embedded in social institutions. A degree in philosophy can be valuable when applying to a variety of professional schools which actively look for liberal arts majors, and employers who do the same.


Because the sustained study of philosophy is at the very heart of any education that is Catholic, Jesuit and humanistic, all Gonzaga University students complete this four-course philosophy sequence.

Critical Thinking. The philosophical component of the Gonzaga Freshman Studies Block, this course is an introduction to the basic tools and skills of thinking and reasoning.

Philosophy of Human Nature. This course initiates students into the study of the human condition, the meaning and value of human life, and the human relationship to ultimate reality.

Ethics. An upper-division course that studies the goals of human life and the norms of moral behavior. It also seeks to apply those goals and norms to specific moral problems.

Advanced Study in Philosophy. All Gonzaga students must complete at least one course of their choosing at the 400-level. Examples of advanced courses include Business Ethics, Existentialism, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of C.S. Lewis, and Chinese Philosophy.

B.A. Major in Philosophy

Upon completing the first three courses of the Core sequence (Critical Thinking, Philosophy of Human Nature, and Ethics), students may enroll in the Philosophy Major program, which has three distinctive features.

Collegial Bookend Seminars. Majors take the proseminar as they begin their work on the Major and a capstone, senior seminar as they finish it. The proseminar introduces majors to the principal topics in philosophy and emphasizes practice in philosophical writing. The senior seminar focuses on topics in metaphysics and epistemology; it also emphasizes philosophical writing.

History of Philosophy Sequence. Majors complete a four course sequence on the history of philosophy, including ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary philosophy.

Flexible Elective Courses. Majors also complete four advanced (400-level) courses in areas of their choosing. This enables advanced students the opportunity to customize their Philosophy major.

Major Requirements

Course Credits Term Offered
PHIL 101 Critical Thinking* 2 credits Fall & Spring
PHIL 201 Philosophy of Human Nature*     3 credits Fall & Spring
PHIL 301 Ethics* 3 credits Fall & Spring
PHIL 400 Philosophy Major Proseminar 3 credits Fall
PHIL 401 History of Ancient Philosophy 3 credits Fall
PHIL 405 History of Medieval Philosophy 3 credits Spring
PHIL 410 History of Modern Philosophy 3 credits Fall
PHIL 420 Contemporary Philosophy 3 credits Spring
PHIL 4xx - Electives**
(cannot include PHIL 402 or PHIL 412)
12 credits
PHIL 499 Senior Seminar
in Metaphysics/Epistemology
3 credits

     With the permission of the Honors Program Director, philosophy majors may take PHIL 102H, 201H, and 301H instead of PHIL 101, 201, and 301. These special classes are ordinarily reserved for Honors students. No substitution authorization is required.

**     Majors in philosophy should choose their electives carefully in consultation with their advisors and in the light of their philosophical interests and academic objectives. PHIL 402 and 412 will not count for elective credit for philosophy majors.

Transfer Students
Transfer students who have taken philosophy courses at other institutions may have some or all of the core courses substituted if, in the judgment of the Department, they are equivalent to those courses required at Gonzaga and if a grade of "C" or better was earned.

Minor in Philosophy

The Philosophy Minor program offers students the opportunity to deepen their philosophical interests after completing the Core program. The Minor program features flexibility, since students are permitted to choose any three advanced (400-level) courses. The total number of credits needed for the Philosophy Minor is 20, of which 11 are satisfied through the completion of the Core program.

The Philosophy department offers a large number of advanced (400-level) courses from which students may choose. These include courses on philosophical issues that arise within a particular profession, as well as courses devoted to various philosophical problems or historical movements.

Minor in Philosophy: 20 Credits

PHIL 101 Critical Thinking

2 credits

PHIL 201 Philosophy of Human Nature

3 credits

PHIL 301 Ethics

3 credits

PHIL 4xx  Electives

12 credits

Kossel Track

The Kossel Track is named after Clifford Kossel, S.J., who taught Thomistic philosophy at Gonzaga for many years. It is designed for all students who seek a Philosophy Major program that emphasizes Catholic thought. Bishop White seminarians in particular pursue this major in preparation for theological studies. In addition to the Collegial Bookend Seminars and the History of Philosophy Sequence of the Philosophy Major program, the Kossel Track program includes the following.

Area Courses. Kossel students take three courses in traditional areas of Catholic philosophy: Christian Metaphysics, Theory of Knowledge, and either Faith and Reason or Philosophy of God.

Supporting Elective Course. Kossel students complete an additional advanced elective course of their choosing.

Additional Religion Study. Kossel students complete at least one course on Catholicism beyond the three courses of the religious studies core program.

Latin Study. Kossel students complete at least one full year of Latin language.

502 E. Boone Avenue
Spokane, WA 99258-6741
Phone: (509) 313-6741

Location: Rebmann House
1207 N. Astor Street
(Across from St. Aloysius Church)