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Frequently Asked Questions

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I'm considering Philosophy as my major or minor.

1. I've yet to decide on my major and minor and have never taken a Philosophy course. How can I learn if the Philosophy major or minor is a good option for me?

Start by taking one of our lower division courses: Phil 101: Intro to Philosophy, Phil 201: Greek Philosophy, or Phil 202: Descartes to Kant. Multiple sections of these courses are offered every semester, and any one of them will give you exposure to some of the issues, questions, and historical figures that are covered in our more advanced Philosophy courses.

2. I've taken at least one Philosophy course, but I'm still not sure whether Philosophy is a good option for me. Is there a certain type of student for whom the Philosophy major and minor is especially appealing?

No. There are in fact a wide range of students who are attracted to Philosophy. For instance, some of our current students are coupling their Philosophy major with a major or minor in another area of the humanities (such as history and political science), while others are coupling their study of Philosophy with a major or minor in one of the sciences (such as mathematics and psychology).

3. I'd like to pursue Philosophy as a major, but I'm worried that I won't be able to find a job if I graduate from UNM with a degree in Philosophy. Are there practical benefits I will gain from pursuing a Philosophy major or minor that will help me when I graduate?

Yes. The writing and analytical skills developed in Philosophy courses are increasingly valued in professional fields, such as business and marketing, and Philosophy majors tend to score very well on tests, such as the GRE and LSAT, which are required for admission into post-graduate programs. Also, bear in mind that pursuing a Philosophy major (or minor) does not commit you to a career in Philosophy. Many of our graduates have gone on to very successful careers in other fields, including business, law, medicine, foreign service, public administration, social work, and education (elementary, secondary, or college).

4. Are there real and long-term benefits associated with completing a Philosophy degree?

Yes, at least according to a recent study conducted by PayScale.com: Their data revealed that the mid-career median salary of Philosophy majors is roughly $81,000. The results of this survey are available on-line at http://www.payscale.com/2008-best-colleges/degrees.asp

5. I'd like to go to law school after I graduate. Is it absolutely necessary that I pursue the Pre-Law concentration in Philosophy rather than the general major?

No. Completing any one of our major programs will help you develop the writing and analytical skills you'll need in your post-graduate studies. However, the required courses for the Pre-Law concentration (especially Phil 371: Classical Social and Political Philosophy, Phil 372: Modern Social and Political Philosophy, and Phil 381: Philosophy of Law) will provide you a solid foundation in areas that are a part of any law school curriculum. Thus, if you are interested in attending law school and you opt to pursue the general Philosophy major, we highly recommend that you take those three courses to fulfill the upper-division electives required for the major.

6. I'm still not sure if I should major or minor in Philosophy and would like to speak to someone in person. Is there someone I can contact?

The Undergraduate Student Advisor (UA) for Philosophy. Look for the "Advisement" page under "Undergraduate Programs."

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I'm ready to declare Philosophy as my major or minor.

1. I'm ready to declare Philosophy as my major. What do I need to do?

Information about the requirements for declaring the Philosophy major can be found in the UNM Catalog at the links below:

General and pre-law major and the minor

English-philosophy major

When you are ready to declare Philosophy as your major, you need to schedule an appointment with Farah Nousheen, the College of Arts and Sciences Advisor for Philosophy majors, through LoboAchieve.unm.edu, or by phone 505-277-4621. For other questions, you can email her at nousheen@unm.edu. (She doesn't make appointments by email).

2. I'd like to pursue the Pre-Law Philosophy Major.   What are the procedures for declaring the Pre-Law major?

Follow the same procedures that are described for the general Philosophy major.

3. I'd like to pursue the English-Philosophy major. What are the procedures for declaring the English-Philosophy major?

Follow the same procedures that are described for the general Philosophy major.

4. Do I need the signature of the Philosophy Undergraduate Advisor to declare a Philosophy major or minor?

No. You do not need the UA's signature to declare a major or minor in Philosophy.

5. I am interested in earning Honors in Philosophy.  How do I know if I'm eligible?

Information about the Honors Program in Philosophy may be found on the Philosophy Department website’s Honors in Philosophy page.  If you have further questions you may contact our Honors Advisor. His/her contact information may be found on the Philosophy Department website's Undergraduate Advisement page.

6. When do the Undergraduate Philosophy, English-Philosophy, and Honors in Philosophy advisors hold office hours?

You can find hours and contact information on the Philosophy website's Undergraduate Advisement page.

 

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I'm currently completing the Philosophy major or minor.

1. Does the UA for Philosophy keep a record of the courses I need to take to complete the major or minor?

No. This responsibility falls on the student. However, we do have worksheets available on-line, which students can use to help them keep track of the courses they need to complete for their Philosophy degree requirements.  They may be found on the Philosophy website's Major in Philosophy page.

Note: These requirements are for students who declared their major after Fall 2011.  For students who declared before or during Fall 2011, please see the next FAQ subject, titled “I declared a major in philosophy before or during Fall 2011”.

2. There are certain 200-level courses, such as Phil 202, that are required for the major and the minor.  Must I take these lower-division courses before completing my upper-division requirements?

Not necessarily. The prerequisite for some of our upper-division courses is simply one Philosophy course, but there are cases where the 200-level courses are prerequisites. (For instance, you must take Phil 202 before taking Phil 352: Theory of Knowledge.) For information on the prerequisites for our upper-division courses, consult the current UNM course catalog

3. Does the department recommend that I take the required 200-level courses, such as Phil 202, before completing my upper-division requirements?

Yes, for two reasons: 1) These survey courses expose students to some of the most important figures and theories of Greek and Early Modern Philosophy; and 2) These courses offer a solid historical background that will better enable students to orient themselves towards the issues, questions, and leading figures of contemporary philosophy.

4. Does the department have other recommendations concerning the order in which I complete my degree requirements?

Yes. We strongly recommend that our majors aim to complete the required courses for their major program by the end of their junior year and leave their senior year to complete their electives (and possibly pursue Honors in Philosophy – more on that below). We make this recommendation because some of the courses required for our majors are not offered every semester. Thus, it's best that students complete these courses prior to the year they intend to graduate. Otherwise, they run the risk of having to delay their graduation until the required courses are offered again.

5. Are there courses that the department recommends I take to fulfill the elective requirements for the major or minor?

No. We have designed our undergraduate programs to ensure that students have a good deal of flexibility when choosing their elective courses for the major and minor.

6. I have taken Phil 101. Will this course count towards my elective requirements for the Philosophy major?

Yes, but only if you completed Phil 101 prior to taking Philosophy courses at the 200-level or above. In other words, if you took a Philosophy course at the 200-level or above prior to taking Phil 101, then Phil 101 will not count toward your degree requirements.

7. I have taken Phil 101. Will this count towards my requirements for the Philosophy minor?

Yes, but only if you have taken Phil 101 prior to taking Philosophy courses at the 300-level or above. For instance, if you've only taken Phil 201 thus far, you can in fact take Phil 101 to complete the sequence required for the Philosophy minor. However, we highly recommend that you instead take Phil 202 to complete that sequence simply because the material covered in Phil 101 may seem too elementary for a student who has already completed a 200-level course.

8. I am completing the general Philosophy major and have taken Phil 156. Will this course count towards my elective requirements for the major?

Yes, but only if you completed Phil 156 prior to taking Philosophy courses at the 200-level or above. In other words, if you took a Philosophy course at the 200-level or above prior to taking Phil 156, then Phil 156 will not count toward your degree requirements.

9. I am interested in earning Honors in Philosophy. How do I know if I'm eligible?

Information about the Honors Program in Philosophy may be found on the Philosophy Department website’s Honors in Philosophy page.  If you have further you may contact our Honors Advisor. His/her contact information may be found on the Philosophy Department website's Undergraduate Advisement page.

 

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I declared a major or minor in philosophy during or prior to Fall 2011.

1. I declared a general Philosophy major prior to Fall 2011.  What are my requirements?

The requirements for philosophy majors who declared their major during or prior to Fall 2011 may be found here.

2. I declared a Pre-Law Philosophy major prior to Fall 2011.  What are my requirements?

The requirements for philosophy majors who declared their major during or prior to Fall 2011 may be found here.

3. I declared a Philosophy minor prior to Fall 2011. What are my requirements?

Students who declared a Minor in Philosophy during or prior to Fall 2011 are required to take 2 of the following classes: Phil 101, 201, or 202.

4. I declared my general Philosophy major, Pre-Law Philosophy major, or Philosophy minor, prior to fall 2011. Can I opt to complete the new requirements for the major or minor, rather than those that were in effect when I declared?

Yes, you can choose to complete the new requirements. To make this change to your record, you must consult with in an advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences Advising Office. Ask the advisor to process this change to your major requirements so that your audit report reflects the new requirements for the major.

5. What is the difference between Phil 201: Greek Thought and Phil 211: Greek Philosophy?

Phil 201: Greek Thought fulfills the College of Arts and Sciences core curriculum requirement in the Humanities, and as such, it covers a broader range of themes and issues than Phil 211: Greek Philosophy. For instance, at the discretion of the instructor, Phil 201 will include readings in Greek literature and history and encounters with masterpieces of Greek art. On the other hand, Phil 211: Greek Philosophy will consistently focus on the major philosophers and philosophical questions in the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. The course also includes more extensive readings and writing assignments than Phil 201, and enrollments in Phil 211 will be smaller, allowing the course to be conducted more like a seminar.

6. I declared my general/Pre-Law major in Philosophy prior to fall 2011 but have not yet fulfilled the Phil 201: Greek Philosophy requirement. Should I now take Phil 211 instead of Phil 201?

Yes, although you are not required to do so. Since your audit report will list Phil 201 as a requirement for the major, you can take Phil 201 to complete your degree requirements. However, we would strongly encourage you to take Phil 211 instead, because this course will include content that will give you a strong foundation in Greek Philosophy.

NOTE: If you declared the major prior to fall 2011 and opt to take Phil 211 to fulfill the major requirements, then you must contact the Undergraduate Advisor and request that Phil 211 substitute for Phil 201. To process the substitution, please supply the Undergraduate Advisor the following information: (1) your name as it listed on your transcript; (2) the major you are completing (general or Pre-Law); (3) your Banner ID number; and (4) the semester you completed, or will complete, Phil 211.

7. I declared the general major in Philosophy prior to fall 2011. Can I use any 400-level course to complete the 400-level requirement?

Yes, to process this substitution, you must contact the Undergraduate Advisor and supply the following information: (1) your name as it listed on your transcript; (2) the major you are completing (general or Pre-Law); (3) your Banner ID number; (4) the name and number of the 400-level course you like to count towards your degree requirements; and (5) the semester you completed the 400-level course.

NOTE: This substitution can only be processed if you earned a C or higher in the 400-level course you would like to use towards your degree requirements.

 

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I'm graduating with a degree in Philosophy this coming year.

1. Is there a typical career path that Philosophy students pursue after they graduate?

No. While many Philosophy students decide to attend law school or graduate school, there is no "typical" path that's been taken by graduates of the UNM Philosophy program. Our alumni have put their skills and talents to use in a wide variety of fields, including business, law, medicine, library science, publishing, foreign service, public administration, social work, and (elementary, secondary, and post-secondary) education.

2. Does UNM provide resources that will help me decide on a career path?

Yes. We encourage you to talk to a Career Development Facilitator at UNM's Office of Career Services. These facilitators are available to help current UNM students and alumni assess their abilities and interests, clarify their career goals, write a resume or cover letter, and conduct a job search.

3. I'm interested in applying to graduate programs in Philosophy. Is my only option to pursue a doctorate (Ph.D.)?

No. You can also pursue a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Philosophy. Not every graduate program in Philosophy offers a terminal M.A., so you will have to research which schools have this degree as an option. Some schools that offer a terminal M.A. in Philosophy include (in alphabetical order): Brandeis University, California State University – Los Angeles, Colorado State University, Georgia State University, the University of Houston, the University of Missouri – St. Louis, UNM, Northern Illinois University, the University of Oregon, San Francisco State University, Texas A & M, Texas Tech University, Tufts University, Western Michigan University, and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

4. I'm interested in applying to graduate programs in Philosophy but I'm not sure if it's a good option for me. Is there someone in the Philosophy Department I can contact?

Yes. You can speak with our current Undergraduate Student Advisor to get some general insight into studying Philosophy at the graduate level. However, you will get better advice from Philosophy faculty members from whom you've taken several courses. Since they are familiar with your academic skills and talents, they can help you determine whether you are prepared for the sort of writing and research you will have to complete in graduate school.

5. Are there general factors to consider as I decide whether I should apply for graduate programs in Philosophy?

Yes. Although each student will have a unique experience applying for and attending graduate school, here are some things that are generally true:

  1. Completing an M.A. in Philosophy typically requires at least 2 years of full-time study, while completing a Ph.D. in Philosophy typically requires 6 to 8 years of full-time study
  2. Admission into Philosophy graduate programs is very competitive (in any given year, a graduate program with a strong reputation will receive upwards of 300 applications and admit less than 10 students into their program)
  3. Finishing a graduate degree in Philosophy can be very costly (even students who are admitted into a graduate program with some funding typically need to supplement their income with student loans)
  4. There are many more people with Ph.D.s in Philosophy than there are openings at colleges and universities to teach Philosophy (according to a recent estimate, the odds of getting a tenure-track job in Philosophy, even after getting a Ph.D., is only 17%.)

6. All that sounds very grim. Are there any positive factors to consider as I decide whether I should apply for graduate programs in Philosophy?

Yes, and the positives are very positive. As a graduate student in Philosophy, you will have the freedom to investigate the philosophical problems and figures that interest you, the opportunity to connect with students and faculty members who share your philosophical interests, the freedom to manage your time as you see fit, and in many cases, the opportunity to craft and teach undergraduate Philosophy courses. For a better sense of how one can strike a balance between these positive aspects of graduate study with the less-than-positive aspects, talk to members of the UNM Philosophy faculty as well as our current graduate students.

7. I'm interested in applying to graduate programs in Philosophy but I'm not sure which schools I should consider. How can I narrow my list of possibilities?

Most graduate programs in Philosophy have particular strengths (which are associated with the number of faculty working in a specific field), and you should apply to programs that have strengths which correlate with your interests. For instance, if you are interested in studying and researching non-Western Philosophy at the graduate level, then, among other places, you should consider applying to the University of Hawaii. To learn more about the strengths of particular Philosophy programs, consult each program's web site. Look at the research specialties of different faculty members as well as the areas in which graduate courses are commonly offered. You can also consult the Philosophical Gourmet Report, a ranking of graduate programs in Philosophy (organized and edited by Brian Leiter).

8. I've decided to apply to law school and/or graduate school. Whom should I ask for letters of recommendation?

You'll likely be asked to supply 3 letters of recommendation with your application, and in general, programs would like at least 2 of these letters to speak to your academic abilities. For these letters, approach faculty members who are very familiar with your academic talents (for instance, professors with whom you've had more than 1 class). For the third letter, you can request a letter from an additional faculty member or approach someone who is familiar with your professional achievements (for instance, an employer or supervisor with whom you've worked for a year or more).

9. How should I approach a faculty member for a letter of recommendation?

You can request a letter of recommendation in person or via email. Whichever route you choose, be sure to offer your potential letter writer specific information about your goals and the program(s) to which you are applying. You can do so by supplying a draft of your personal statement along with a current resume. Also, be sure to give your letter writers ample time to compose their letters. Err on the side of caution and make your requests at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to your application deadline.

10. I've been asked to include a personal statement with my application to law school and/or graduate school. What should I include in my personal statement?

While there are different strategies for composing a personal statement, be sure to aim for clarity and emphasize 1) that you're serious about the program to which you're applying and 2) that you're prepared for the challenges you'll face when completing your post-graduate work.

11. Does the Philosophy Department hold a convocation ceremony for its graduates?

Yes. The Philosophy convocation ceremony is held each May, typically on the Saturday afternoon following Finals Week, the same day that UNM holds its general convocation ceremony. Undergraduate and graduate students who are graduating in May (or who graduated in December) will be contacted by the Philosophy Department in March or April with more details about our ceremony.

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How can I stay informed about news and events in the Philosophy Department?

Check the "News and Events" section of our web site. Or, if you'd prefer email updates, you can subscribe to the PHILMAJORS-L listserv. This listserv is open to all members of the UNM community (you need not be a Philosophy major). To subscribe, go to http://list.unm.edu, click on "Subscribe to a List", and when prompted, enter PHILMAJORS-L. You will then indicate the email address to which you'd like messages sent (the email address need not be a UNM address).

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I have questions about the Philosophy program that were not answered above.

Is there someone I can contact?

The Undergraduate Student Advisor (UA) for Philosophy. For hours and contact information please visit the Philosophy website's Undergraduate Advisement page.

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