University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The Department of Philosophy offers an undergraduate major in Philosophy leading to the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree.

Declaring the Major

Fill out a Declaration of Major Form. Submit to the Student Affairs Officer via email or to 314 Philosophy Hall (Philosophy Department office). 

Forms are available online:​

Honors Program

With the consent of the major advisor, a student with an overall 3.5 grade-point average (GPA) or higher and a GPA of 3.7 or higher in courses in the major may apply for admission to the honors program. Students in this program must complete a graduate seminar in the Department of Philosophy and write an acceptable honors thesis, for which four units of credit will be given under PHILOS H195

Minor Program

To declare the minor, students should contact to obtain a minor completion form.

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. Other exceptions to this requirement are noted as applicable.
  2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

One of the following courses may be taken on a Pass/No Pass basis.

Lower Division Requirements

PHILOS 12AIntroduction to Logic4
PHILOS 25AAncient Philosophy4
PHILOS 25BModern Philosophy4

Upper Division Requirements 

Philosophical Methods [4] (or equivalent see footnote 1 below) 1
Select one of the following:
Ethical Theories [4]
Bioethics: Clinical and Population-Level [4]
Moral Psychology [4]
Contemporary Ethical Issues [4]
History of Political Philosophy [4]
Political Philosophy [4]
Select one course numbered between PHILOS 160-PHILOS 178.
Select one course from below:
Confucius for Today [4]
Chinese Philosophy [4]
Arabic Philosophy [4]
Medieval Philosophy [4]
Foundations of Analytic Philosophy: Frege [4]
Plato [4]
Aristotle [4]
Special Topics in Greek Philosophy [4]
Descartes [4]
Hobbes [4]
Spinoza [4]
Leibniz [4]
Hume [4]
Kant [4]
Hegel [4]
Schopenhauer and Nietzsche [4]
Nietzsche [4]
Heidegger [4]
Later Wittgenstein [4]
Special Topics in the History of Philosophy [4]
Phenomenology [4]
Phenomenology [4]
Select two courses from different groups below.
Group A:
Theory of Knowledge [4]
Group B:
Metaphysics [4]
Group C:
Philosophy of Mind [4]
Philosophy of Perception [4]
Group D:
Philosophy of Language [4]
Form and Meaning [4]
Theory of Meaning [4]
Three courses total. Two must be upper division and one may be either upper division or lower division. 2,3

You may satisfy this requirement without taking PHILOS 100 by presenting evidence that you received an A or an A+ in at least two out of the first three eligible philosophy courses that you have taken at Berkeley. Here are the eligible philosophy courses: PHILOS 25A; PHILOS 25B; any upper division philosophy course except PHILOS 140A or PHILOS 140B


One elective may be a course offered in another department, provided the course is approved by the undergraduate adviser.


 PHILOS H195PHILOS 198, and PHILOS 199 do not count as electives.

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared before the first day of classes in your Expected Graduation Term (EGT). For summer graduates, minors must be declared prior to the first day of Summer Session A. 

  2. All upper-division courses must be taken for a letter grade. 

  3. A minimum of three of the upper-division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.

  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required in the upper-division courses to fulfill the minor requirements.

  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.

  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.

  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If students cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, they should see a College of Letters & Science adviser.

  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


Lower Division
PHILOS 25AAncient Philosophy4
or PHILOS 25B Modern Philosophy
Upper Division
Ethics, select one of the following:4
Ethical Theories [4]
Moral Psychology [4]
Contemporary Ethical Issues [4]
History of Political Philosophy [4]
Political Philosophy [4]
Epistemology/Metaphysics, select one of the following:4
Theory of Knowledge [4]
Metaphysics [4]
Philosophy of Mind [4]
Philosophy of Language [4]
Form and Meaning [4]
Theory of Meaning [4]
Philosophy of Perception [4]
Electives: three additional upper division philosophy courses12

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For a detailed lists of L&S requirements, please see Overview tab to the right in this guide or visit the L&S Degree Requirements webpage. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley and must be taken for a letter grade. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and American Institutions requirements are based on the principle that all U.S. residents who have graduated from an American university should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this campus requirement course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses are plentiful and offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer/data science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course taken for a letter grade.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work taken for a letter grade.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College of Letters and Science requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses in sequential order by the end of their fourth semester for a letter grade.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes at Cal for four years, or two years for transfer students. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you graduate early, go abroad for a semester or year, or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an L&S College adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your B.A. degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Student Learning Goals


The Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative (USLI) is a campuswide project that has been under development at Berkeley since Fall 2007. This initiative is designed to promote and facilitate learning for undergraduates across campus. In connection with this initiative, the Philosophy Department has articulated the following goals for our undergraduate majors.

The primary goal that we expect our undergraduate philosophy majors to achieve is to become capable of engaging with the main topics and issues in contemporary academic philosophy and with the historical tradition by which contemporary philosophy is informed. Students who graduate from our program should be able to think both analytically and creatively about philosophical issues and texts. They should be able to analyse and raise objections to philosophical views and arguments that are presented to them, and to develop and defend their own views on philosophical topics. They should be able to do this both in writing and in oral discussion with other students and with instructors. Achieving these objectives requires that students acquire more general skills in writing, reading, and oral argument: they need to be able to organize their ideas, express them clearly both in writing and in speaking, and construct plausible arguments in their defense.

Learning Goals for the Major

This primary goal includes the following more specific goals:

  1. A broad general understanding of the work of major figures in the history of philosophy, including Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant.
  2. A deeper and more detailed understanding of the work of at least two historically important philosophers.
  3. Familiarity with the most important topics in a range of areas which are typically regarded as lying at the center of contemporary philosophical thought, including metaphysics, theory of knowledge, philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.
  4. Familiarity with the most important topics in ethics and the related field of political philosophy.
  5. Familiarity with formal logic, including both the ability to understand the logical symbolism used in many contemporary philosophical texts, and to carry out logical proofs and derivations within a formal system.
  6. The general capacity to think analytically and creatively about philosophical texts and issues.
  7. The general capacity to express philosophical ideas and defend them effectively in argument, both in writing and orally.


Students’ attainment of these goals is measured by assessment of their performance in the courses required for the major. All philosophy undergraduate courses, with the exception of those in logic, require students to write several essays over the course of the semester; many of them also require a final exam where the questions also take the form of short philosophical essays. These essays are evaluated by the instructor with an eye both to the student’s mastery of the specific subject matter covered by the course, and to the student’s mastery of more general skills in philosophical thinking and writing. A higher standard of thinking and writing is required for upper division than for lower division courses. More ambitious students have the option of taking graduate seminars as electives, where the standard for philosophical writing is higher still.

In logic courses, students’ competence in formal logic is evaluated through assessment of their performance in weekly problem sets and examinations (typically including a midterm and a final).

All of our courses, again with the exception of those in formal logic, require students to engage in oral philosophical discussion, typically during sections taught by graduate student instructors. In many courses, students’ contributions to discussion are assessed as part of the overall assessment of their performance in the class. We recognize it as a shortcoming in our program, however, that our courses are often too large to allow much discussion, and as a result, we are not confident that all of our students do in fact become proficient in this aspect of the primary goal of the program. We think it very important that students have the opportunity to develop their skills in oral discussion of philosophical issues, and we are hoping to be able to introduce as a requirement that students take one undergraduate seminar which offers ample opportunity for discussion with a faculty member and with their peers. So far, the small size of the faculty compared with the large size of enrollment in philosophy classes has prevented us from doing this, but we hope that faculty size will increase to a degree that will make this change in the program feasible.


Students are required to take 12 courses overall, including a number of required courses; these required courses are selected and designed with reference to the specific goals from the numbered list above, as follows:

The goals described in this statement will be communicated to our undergraduate students by posting a prominent link to this statement on our department website, on the same page that is used to inform students about the course requirements for the philosophy major.



Contact Information

Department of Philsophy

314 Philosophy Hall

Phone: 510-642-2722

Fax: 510-642-4164

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Alva Noë, PhD

232 Philosophy Hall

Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer

Janet Groome

Phone: 510-642-2722

Back to Top