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USC's Philosophy Department

  • I have a particular question about which class to take given my schedule and/or the requirements for my major.
    You should talk first with your academic advisor. They are the expert on what the requirements are (it can differ across catalog years), and what the rules are (e.g., did you know that if you get a prereq waived, you can’t later take that prereq for credit for the major?). The general rule is: if your question is about philosophical content (e.g., “what does a particular course cover?”, “what are the differences between lower-level and upper-level philosophy courses?”, “can this course I took elsewhere count toward my major at USC?”) the DUS is the person to ask. If your question is about logistics in scheduling, start by asking your academic advisor.
  • I tried to register for a course, but it’s full. What should I do?
    If it's a course you just want to take, but it isn't necessary for your major: Email the professor, and ask if they would allow you to over-enroll. (Note that profs aren't obligated to over-enroll their courses.) You can call our department at 213-740-4084 to ask for more information about the course, and if you can't get ahold of the professor you can also ask for info on when the prof's office hours are. If you can't get ahold of the professor before the term starts, at the beginning of the term, attend the course and ask the prof if you can enroll then (sometimes students drop). Note that for some of our larger GE courses, extra seats are added periodically so it is helpful to check. (As DUS I do not have information about when the seats will be added.) If it is a course you need to take for your distribution requirements / to graduate: Do all of the above steps. But if you're unable to get ahold of the prof, and you've tried emailing multiple times and (if it's during the academic year) you've tried attending their office hours, or if the prof has said they will not over-enroll their course, email both your academic advisor and me. Note that in general, courses can fill fast so it's important to take major requirements like Gateway courses and other distribution requirements early if you can. But even when everyone is trying their best it can be hard to get everything to work out, so we're here to help you if you're having difficulties with it!
  • I would like to have the prerequisite for a course waived. Is that possible?
    It sometimes is! You should contact the instructor teaching the course you’re interested in waiving a prerequisite for.
  • I took an intro Philosophy course (or a Philosophy GESM), and don't know if I want to major or minor in Philosophy yet. What should I do?
    You are always very welcome to talk to me or to come to departmental events! But also, in terms of which class to take next: I recommend taking one of our 300-level Gateway Courses: PHIL 315 History of Western Philosophy: Ancient Period PHIL 320 History of Western Philosophy: Modern Period PHIL 336 Philosophy of Mind and Language PHIL 337 Political Philosophy PHIL 340 Ethics PHIL 360 Epistemology and Metaphysics PHIL 362 Possible Worlds PHIL 363 Philosophy of Perception PHIL 385 Science and Rationality These courses will give you a deeper look into Philosophy, and they also focus on how to write Philosophy papers, giving you a better idea of what you'll be expected to do if you major or minor in Philosophy. Finally, the Gateway Course is a requirement for all majors in the Philosophy department, as well as for the Philosophy minor.
  • Are there departmental events I can attend?
    Absolutely! We typically have an undergraduate/prof meet-and-greet every semester, or at least every year. Majors and minors will get an email letting them know when that will take place. (Though the events are open to anyone who wants to come.) We also have a variety of events described on our departmental Events page. Among them are the department’s regular colloquia, where profs from other universities come to give presentations and then answer questions. Undergrads are very welcome to attend those, and you can find our colloquium schedule here. No advance registration required.
  • I am interested in graduating with departmental honors. What should I do?
    Congratulations! We love it when people pursue majors with departmental honors. You can get Honors in Philosophy with any of the majors housed in our Philosophy department. The three requirements are: (i) complete the standard requirements for your major (including the major's capstone (PHIL 475) if you're a PPE major); (ii) Have an average GPA of 3.5 or higher in all upper-level courses for your major; and (iii) complete the Honors Capstone (PHIL 495). If the Honors Capstone is impossible to take given your schedule, you can pursue a Senior Thesis Seminar (PHIL 494) as an alternative.
  • I took a logic course elsewhere, and would like it to satisfy the logic requirement.
    Follow the steps described for the question above. But also know that to meet our logic requirement you must know both propositional and predicate logic; the logic course you took elsewhere needs to have covered the syntax and semantics of quantifiers and you should be comfortable doing proofs in predicate logic. (It’s likely you’ll also have been introduced to modal operators and Free Logic.) To have an externally-taken course satisfy the logic requirement, the materials you send me (such as the syllabi, but also sample assignments or exams if possible) must show that you’ve done this more advanced logic work.
  • What are the different majors and minors offered by the Philosophy department?
    You can find a list of our majors, minors, and other programs here. Our majors are: Philosophy (BA) Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (BA) Philosophy, Politics, and Law (BA) Philosophy and Physics (BA) Our minors are: Philosophy Minor Philosophy of Law, Politics, and Economics Minor We offer this progressive degree: Progressive Degree in Philosophy and Law (MA) And the Linguistics department offers: Linguistics and Philosophy (BA) Note that for the requirements for the various majors and minors, you should contact your academic advisor. (The links above take you to the 2021/2022 course catalog. The requirements in the catalog change over the years.)
  • There's a particular course I’m interested in, being offered next semester. What is covered in that course?
    Start by looking at the course description on our department’s website. Then, for more info, look at USC’s Schedule of Classes to see who is teaching it (this differs semester to semester). Then email them and ask what they will cover. Each course is taught slightly differently by each prof, so they’re the best person to ask.
  • I took a course elsewhere, and would like to know if it can count for credit toward my major/minor.
    First, download the form here, and read through the restrictions. Especially note that lower-division courses never count for upper-division credit. Note also that only two courses from a major, and only one for a minor, may be taken outside our department. Fill out the form and, if possible, meet with your academic advisor to discuss what you’re requesting and how that fits with your major/minor requirements. Then send me all of the information (including course syllabi) in a single email.
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