Sep 21, 2020  
USC Catalogue 2019-2020 
USC Catalogue 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


Return to: USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences  

The School of Philosophy offers courses in most areas of philosophy, including philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, epistemology, metaphysics, logic, philosophy of science, political philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, the history of philosophy, phenomenology and existentialism. The major in philosophy is designed to acquaint students with the fundamental problems of Western thought and introduce them to the concepts and techniques necessary for independent philosophical thinking; it is equally intended to provide a broadening perspective for the various areas of specialization in the natural and social sciences and in literature and the arts. The school also offers minors in: philosophy; ethics and moral philosophy; and philosophy for business, law, and the professions. It also offers bachelor's degrees in philosophy; philosophy and physics; philosophy, politics and economics; and philosophy, politics and law. In addition to these undergraduate programs, the School of Philosophy also offers a Master of Arts in Philosophy, a Master of Arts in Philosophy and Law, a joint degree with the USC Gould School of Law, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy.

Mudd Hall of Philosophy 113
(213) 740-4084
FAX: (213) 740-5174


Director: Scott Soames, PhD


University Professor and David Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience and Professor of Psychology, Neurology and Philosophy: Antonio Damasio, PhD (Psychology)

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy: Scott Soames, PhD*

Provost Professor of Philosophy and Law: Gary Watson, PhD

William T. Dalessi Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy: Gregory Keating, PhD (Law)

Professors: Stephen Finlay, PhD; John Hawthorne, PhD; Robin Jeshion, PhD; Janet Levin, PhD; Sharon Lloyd, PhD*; Edwin McCann, PhD*; Jonathan Quong, PhD; Kevin W. Robb, PhD*; Mark Schroeder, PhD*; Jacob Soll, PhD; Gabriel Uzquiano Cruz, PhD; James Van Cleve, PhD; Kadri Vihvelin, PhD; David Wallace, PhD; Ralph Wedgwood, PhD

Associate Professors: Andrew Bacon, PhD; Zlatan Damnjanovic, PhD; John H. Dreher, PhD; Jeremy Goodman, PhD; Shieva Kleinschmidt, PhD; Jacob Ross, PhD; Jefferey Sanford Russel, PhD

Assistant Professors: Jake Nebel, PhD; Alexis Wellwood, PhD; Porter Williams, PhD

Emeritus University Professor and Emeritus Dean of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences: S. Marshall Cohen, MA*

Emeritus Professors: Frank Lewis, PhD; George Wilson, PhD

*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.

Undergraduate Degrees

Double Major

Double majors are encouraged but a student must work in close consultation with the undergraduate adviser.

Bachelor of Arts with a Combined Major in Linguistics and Philosophy

See Linguistics .

Philosophy Honors Program

Students who are considering the possibility of continuing their education at a graduate level in philosophy or similar disciplines, or students who wish to undertake a more intensive course of studies in philosophy, which includes original independent research, are strongly encouraged to take the major with honors.

The major with honors requires completion of the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts, with the following additional requirements:

  1. Students must take a capstone seminar, having completed the prerequisites for taking it.
  2. In addition to the required courses for the major, students must take PHIL 494 Senior Thesis  during the fall term of their senior year. The senior thesis will be graded by the student's adviser. The senior thesis must be completed with a grade of B or higher.
  3. Students must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher in their philosophy courses.

Students who intend to complete the major with honors are encouraged to enroll in the program early in their junior year, and, in any case, no later than the first term of their senior year. Students must consult continuously with their faculty adviser on a mutually agreed basis.

Minor in Critical Approaches to Leadership

See Interdisciplinary Studies .

Graduate Degrees

The objective of the graduate program in philosophy is to equip suitably prepared and talented students to function effectively as teachers, thinkers and writers on philosophical topics in the Western tradition. The program provides for a wide range of studies within philosophy, but emphasizes the history of philosophy, both classical and modern, along with the traditional core disciplines: ethics, epistemology, metaphysics and logic.

Because philosophy is as much a special manner of intellectual activity as it is a special subject matter, the graduate student is expected not only to master major works in the historical and contemporary literature of philosophical thought, but also to develop the ability to engage in the ongoing process of philosophical research and dialogue.

Admission Requirements

An applicant for admission normally has an undergraduate major in philosophy, but programs may be arranged for promising students who do not. At least three letters of recommendation from the student's undergraduate teachers should be sent to the chair of graduate admissions of the School of Philosophy. All applicants are required to take the verbal and quantitative General Tests of the Graduate Record Examinations.

Degree Requirements

These degrees are awarded under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation  section and The Graduate School  section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Progressive Degree Program in Philosophy and Law

The progressive degree program permits exceptional undergraduate students with a major in philosophy to receive both an undergraduate degree and the Master of Arts in Philosophy and Law within five years. A minimum GPA of 3.5, two letters of recommendation and outstanding performance in philosophy courses are required for admission to this program. For other requirements of the progressive degree program, see here .

Graduate Advisement

In addition to the departmental graduate adviser, who has the formal role in graduate advising, each student will be matched with a personal adviser, who will share responsibility with the graduate adviser for monitoring a student's progress semester by semester. The graduate adviser is available to counsel any graduate student on all aspects of the graduate program. A student's personal adviser will consult informally with the student semester by semester on how to interpret his or her grades and especially the written reports provided by the instructor for each course in which the student is enrolled, discuss informally the student's selection of courses each semester, and generally keep track of the student's progress in the program. At the appropriate time, the student will consult his or her adviser concerning the appointment of a faculty committee for guidance and supervision. An official qualifying exam committee will be appointed at the time the student passes the screening examination; for the rules governing its establishment and makeup, see General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree  in the Graduate School section. The qualifying exam committee will meet with the student soon after its appointment, and at least once each academic year thereafter.


    Bachelor's DegreeMinorMaster's DegreeDual DegreeDoctoral Degree


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