Exploring Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis

July 4, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Female student holding a replica of a brain.

Exploring Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis

Are you fascinated by the fundamental questions of existence and human nature? Do you want to explore the complexities of ethics, logic, and metaphysics? If so, then studying philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis may be the perfect fit for you. Let’s take a deep dive into what this school has to offer for aspiring philosophers.


Washington University in St. Louis has a rich history of offering an exceptional education in philosophy. Founded in 1853, the university is renowned for its strong academic programs in a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy.

One of the notable features of the philosophy program at Washington University in St. Louis is its emphasis on interdisciplinary studies. Philosophy students have the opportunity to explore connections between philosophy and other fields, such as psychology, political science, and neuroscience. This approach allows students to gain a broader understanding of the role of philosophy in various areas of study.

Additionally, the philosophy department at Washington University in St. Louis is home to several research centers and institutes, including the Center for the Humanities, the Center for the Study of Ethics and Human Values, and the Institute for Public Health. These centers provide students with opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research and collaborate with faculty members and scholars from other disciplines.

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The Philosophy Department at Washington University: An Overview

The philosophy department at Washington University is dedicated to providing students with a rigorous and comprehensive education in philosophy. The department comprises renowned scholars committed to teaching and research in multiple areas of philosophy, including epistemology, ethics, and social and political philosophy.

As part of the College of Arts & Sciences, the philosophy department offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in philosophy. Undergraduates can choose to major or minor in philosophy, while graduate students can pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in philosophy.

Additionally, the philosophy department at Washington University offers a variety of extracurricular activities and events for students to engage with philosophy outside of the classroom. These include guest lectures, discussion groups, and philosophy clubs. The department also encourages students to participate in research projects and internships to gain practical experience in the field of philosophy.

The Philosophy Curriculum: Courses Offered at Washington University

The philosophy curriculum at Washington University is diverse, offering courses that span the history of philosophy from ancient Greek thought to contemporary approaches to philosophy. Students can choose from courses in epistemology, metaphysics, logic, philosophy of science, ethics, social and political philosophy, and more.

Some popular courses offered include “Morality and the Good Life,” “Philosophy of Perception,” and “History of Ancient Philosophy.” Undergraduates are also required to take courses in logic and the history of philosophy as part of their degree.

In addition to the courses offered, the philosophy department at Washington University also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including guest lectures, conferences, and workshops. These events provide students with the opportunity to engage with leading philosophers from around the world and to explore cutting-edge research in the field. The department also offers a number of extracurricular activities, such as a philosophy club and a student-run philosophy journal, which allow students to further develop their interests and skills in philosophy.

Research Opportunities for Philosophy Students at Washington University in St. Louis

Philosophy students at Washington University have ample opportunities to engage in research and scholarship during their time at the university. The department’s faculty engages in research on a range of philosophical issues, and students can often find opportunities to work as research assistants on faculty research projects.

The philosophy department also hosts an annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference, which gives students the opportunity to present their own original research to the department and the broader philosophical community.

In addition to these opportunities, the philosophy department also offers a summer research program for undergraduate students. This program allows students to work closely with a faculty member on a research project of their own design, and receive a stipend for their work. The program culminates in a presentation of the students’ research at a departmental symposium.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Philosophy Student Life: Clubs and Organizations at Washington University

Students studying philosophy at Washington University can also get involved in a variety of extracurricular activities related to philosophy. The Philosophy Club, for example, provides a space for students to discuss philosophical issues and ideas outside of the classroom setting.

The department also sponsors the Olin Fellowship, which supports undergraduate research in the humanities, including philosophy. Students can apply for the fellowship and receive financial support to conduct independent research on a philosophical topic of their choice.

Another organization that philosophy students can join is the Ethics Bowl team. This team competes in regional and national competitions, where they analyze and debate ethical dilemmas. Joining the Ethics Bowl team is a great way for students to develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, while also exploring ethical issues in depth.

Additionally, the philosophy department hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as guest lectures, film screenings, and panel discussions. These events provide opportunities for students to engage with prominent philosophers and intellectuals, and to explore philosophical ideas and debates in a more informal setting.

The Influence of Philosophy on Other Disciplines at Washington University in St. Louis

Philosophy is a discipline that has broad implications for a wide range of fields, and this is evident in the ways that philosophy courses and ideas influence other areas of study at Washington University.

For example, the university’s medical school offers a course in medical ethics that is taught by philosophy faculty, and philosophy courses on social and political philosophy are often cross-listed with the university’s political science department.

In addition to these examples, philosophy also has a significant impact on the university’s law school. Many law students take philosophy courses to gain a deeper understanding of legal theory and ethics. The philosophy department also offers a course on the philosophy of law, which is popular among both philosophy and law students.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

Alumni Perspectives: How a Philosophy Degree from Washington University has Impacted their Career

Graduates of Washington University’s philosophy program have gone on to pursue careers in a range of fields, including law, academia, and business.

One alumna of the program, Mariah Zeisberg, went on to pursue a career in political philosophy and is now a tenured professor at the University of Michigan. Another alum, Jack Rakove, went on to earn a law degree from Stanford University and became a professor of history and political science at Stanford and Harvard.

Applying to Study Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis: Admissions Requirements and Tips

If you’re interested in applying to study philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

The university seeks students who have demonstrated academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, and passion for philosophical inquiry. As part of the application process, you will be asked to submit transcripts, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation.

You should also consider reaching out to current students or faculty members in the philosophy department to learn more about the program and ask any questions you may have.

Additionally, it is important to note that the philosophy program at Washington University in St. Louis offers a wide range of courses and research opportunities. From ancient philosophy to contemporary issues, students have the opportunity to explore various philosophical topics and engage in critical thinking and analysis. The program also encourages interdisciplinary studies, allowing students to combine philosophy with other fields such as psychology, political science, and neuroscience. Overall, studying philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis provides a rigorous and intellectually stimulating experience for students who are passionate about exploring the fundamental questions of human existence.


Washington University in St. Louis is an excellent place to explore the complexities of philosophy. With a vibrant and dedicated faculty, a diverse and comprehensive curriculum, and ample opportunities for research and scholarship, studying philosophy at Washington University can open up exciting opportunities for your academic and professional future.

Furthermore, the philosophy department at Washington University offers a range of extracurricular activities and events, such as guest lectures, conferences, and student-led discussion groups. These opportunities allow students to engage with philosophical ideas beyond the classroom and to connect with like-minded individuals who share their passion for philosophy.

Finally, studying philosophy at Washington University can also provide valuable skills that are highly sought after in a variety of industries. Philosophy students develop critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and effective communication skills, which can be applied to careers in law, business, journalism, and many other fields.

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