Is philosophy a good major for those who want to go to law, medical, or graduate school?

The study of philosophy has proven to be useful in many ways, from the formation of health care policies to the development of computer languages. It can be the foundation for graduate study in almost any field. Philosophy majors at The College of Wooster have gone on to successful careers in law, business, computer programming, teaching, social work, ministry, journalism, publishing, the arts, public advocacy, and medicine. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of Wooster’s liberal arts approach, philosophy majors often find they can double major in almost any other discipline and still graduate in four years.

Philosophy at The College of Wooster

Philosophy is practiced best within a friendly community where discussions and interactions extend beyond the classroom. One of the long-standing traditions of our program is the Philosophy Roundtable. Students and faculty meet weekly to discuss questions of current concern or recent philosophical research. In these lively and collegial sessions, students can explore ideas informally and engage with invited speakers. Indeed, the small-college atmosphere of Wooster provides students with many opportunities to engage directly with visiting scholars, with the faculty, and with their peers. We regard this as essential to the intellectual development of our students.

Many of our students pursue a double major with another department, fostering vibrant interdisciplinary learning. We have had double majors with departments as diverse as art, biology, communications, economics, English, German studies, history, mathematics, physics, political science, psychology, and religious studies. Similar breadth is reflected in our curriculum. In addition to courses that are central to the discipline, such as Ethical Theory, we also regularly offer courses on such topics as philosophy of education, the law, biomedical ethics, environmental ethics, and race, gender, and justice. Additionally, we offer courses in non-Western traditions, including World Comparative philosophy, Chinese philosophy, and Indian philosophy. A number of our majors also study overseas for a semester, often at programs in England, Germany, Greece, New Zealand, or Scotland.

Wooster’s Philosophy Courses

Faculty & Staff

Karen Haely

Karen Haely

Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy; Co-Liaison to the Public Health Pathway


Ronald Hustwit

Ronald Hustwit

Frank Halliday Ferris Professor of Philosophy


Lee A. McBride III

Lee McBride

Professor of Philosophy (On leave AY 2023-24)


Evan Riley

Evan Riley

Associate Professor of Philosophy


John Rudisill head shot

John Rudisill

Professor of Philosophy, Chair of Pre Law Advising


Elizabeth Schiltz

Purna, Rao, Raju Chair of Philosophy, Department Chair of Philosophy; Professor of Philosophy; Classical Studies; South Asian Studies


Wooster W logo on a cream colored background

Garrett Thomson

Elias Compton Professor of Philosophy; Middle Eastern & North African Studies


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The Philosophy Department has as its fundamental mission the cultivation of skills, dispositions, and knowledge in its students contributing to their development as autonomous persons and as responsible and engaged members of society. These skills and dispositions are acquired and honed through studying and doing philosophy. They facilitate a student’s development by enabling the critical, systematic, and philosophically informed examination of beliefs, values, and conceptions of the world. Such an individual has an independent mind: one that is open, flexible, creative, critical, and capable of making well-reasoned decisions.

A major in philosophy consists of courses that include logic, ethical theory, and the ancient philosophies of Aristotle and Plato.

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Many students have found a minor in philosophy to be a valuable supplement to other majors in the natural and social sciences and other humanities departments. Students are strongly encouraged to take Philosophy 100: Ethics, Justice, and Society as a first course in philosophy. Six courses in philosophy are required to earn a minor.

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Independent Study

We regard the three semesters of Independent Study (I.S.) as a vital component of the intellectual growth of our students.
In the senior research project, students choose their own topic of investigation, design and write a thesis, research important current work in the area, and argue clearly for their own view. While these projects are pursued under the guidance of a faculty adviser, we encourage our students to follow their own interests, and this results in a wide range of theses topics. Recent Philosophy I.S. projects include the following:

  • The Case for Prison Abolition
  • Understanding Human Well-Being
  • Derivative Intentionality and Gricean Meaning
  • Category Theory and Phenomenological Mathematical Realism
  • Valuing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: A Defense of Countercultural Environmentalism
  • On Rationality and Morality: Three Kinds of Approaches
  • Animal Minds and Human Language
  • The Affordable Care Act: ls it Enough?
  • Plays with Words: Understanding Visual Interpretation through Ed Ruscha’s Text Works

The I.S. process enables our students to deeply develop their analytic, argumentative, research, and organizational skills in their authoring of this sustained philosophical research project.


Search the I.S. Database

Student Year I.S. Title Major 1 Major 2 Advisor
Please search to view results

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The study of philosophy can be the foundation for graduate study or professional aspiration in almost any field. Philosophy majors at Wooster have gone on to successful careers in law, business, computer programming, teaching, social work, ministry, journalism, publishing, the arts, public advocacy, and medicine, among other pursuits.

  • The Honorable Solomon Oliver Jr. ‘69 is a U.S. District Court judge
  • Margaret Plews-Ogan ‘77 earned her MD at Harvard and is a professor at the University of Virginia medical school
  • Duncan Jones ‘95 directed the films Moon (2009), Source Code (2011), and Warcraft (2016)
  • Megan Mitchell ‘06 earned her PhD at UNC Chapel Hill and is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Stonehill College
  • Steven Frankland ‘07 earned his PhD in Psychology at Harvard and now works at the Harvard Center for Brain Science as a postdoctoral researcher
  • Ben Schwan ‘07 earned his PhD in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin and currently teaches bioethics at Case Western Reserve University and serves as a Consulting Bioethicist
  • Lindsay Brainard ‘10 earned an MA at Cambridge University, a PhD at UNC Chapel Hill, and is now an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama—Birmingham
  • Aaron Novick ‘12 earned a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh and is now an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington in Seattle.
  • Mae Manupipatpong ’14 earned a JD from UC Berkeley and works in public interest environmental law in California
  • Pailin Chiaranunt ‘14 earned a PhD in Immunology at the University of Toronto and is a research immunologist
  • Tzula Propp ’15 earned a PhD in Physics at the University of Oregon and is a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Center for Quantum Information and Control, University of New Mexico

Recent philosophy majors have gone on to study philosophy in graduate school at such places as Brandeis University, Cambridge University, Duke University, Georgetown University, London School of Economics, Princeton University, Tufts University, University of California-Santa Cruz, University of Iowa, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Oklahoma, University of Pittsburgh, University of Tennessee, University of Toronto, Virginia Tech University, Western Michigan University, and the University of Wisconsin.

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Prizes & Scholarships

The Ronald E. Hustwit Prize in Philosophy

The Hustwit Prize, which was established in 2007 by students, colleagues, and friends of Ron Hustwit, will be awarded annually to a senior philosophy major who, in the judgment of the Department, has shown great love of both the subject and the practice of philosophy. This prize honors Professor Ronald Hustwit for his life-long commitment to the students at the College of Wooster and for his contributions to the cultivation of philosophical skills, dispositions, and enthusiasm for philosophy among those students. Recipients of the Hustwit Prize have been:

  • 2023 – Veda Massanari-Thatcher and Kevin Poe
  • 2022 – Hah Yeon Lee and Grace Robinson
  • 2021 – Alex Fiander and Micah Phillips-Gary
  • 2020 – Grace O’Leary and Brianna Schmidt
  • 2019 – Coral Ciupak and Wyatt Linde
  • 2018 – Brandon Burkey and Scarlett (Junyi) Chen
  • 2017 – Matthew Rowe Buranosky and Taylor Funderburk
  • 2016 – Alexandra Gustafson
  • 2015 – Evelyn Yu Yu Swe and Zachary Diehl
  • 2014 – Elise Hudock and Phu Nguyen-Thien

The John F. Miller Prize

The Miller Prize, established in 1913, is given at graduation to the major student who has the highest standing in Philosophy. Recipients of the Miller Prize have been:

  • 2023 – Veda Massanari-Thatcher
  • 2022 – Timothy Cotter, Hah Yeon Lee, and Grace Robinson
  • 2021 – Alex Fiander and Micah Phillips Gary
  • 2020 – Pedro Oliboni
  • 2019 – Coral Ciupak
  • 2018 – Scarlett (Junyi) Chen
  • 2017 – Emily Ann Howerton
  • 2016 – Jacob Fitzpatrick Caldwell
  • 2015 – Chelsea Renae Fry
  • 2014 – Methawee Manupipatpong

The Remy Johnston Memorial Prize in Philosophy

The Remy Johnston Prize was established in 1989 by the Johnston family and the faculty and students of the Department of Philosophy in memory of Remy Alexander Johnston, a senior Philosophy major at the College. The prize is awarded annually to a senior Philosophy major who, in the Department’s judgment, has shown outstanding progress in developing philosophical skills and promise as a philosopher. Recipients of the Johnston Prize have been:

  • 2023 – Ben Read and Alix Printup
  • 2022 – Xiangjie Wu and Timothy Cotter
  • 2021 – Alex Cohen and Maxwell Gregg
  • 2020 – Alejandro Arriaga and Malik Hearst
  • 2019 – Emma Arvedon and Mylo Parker-Emerson
  • 2018 – Isaac Scher and Erik Severson
  • 2017 – Claire Elizabeth Ilersich and Harrison Skylar Ruprecht
  • 2016 – Michael Gyeszat and Zach Towner
  • 2015 – Chelsea Frey and Maxim Elrod
  • 2014 – Richard Barnes and Jordan McNickle

The Hank Kreuzman Philosophy Roundtable Book Prize

The Hank Kreuzman Philosophy Roundtable Book Prize was established in 2021 by the Department of Philosophy to be awarded annually to a student(s) of Philosophy who has contributed significantly to the Philosophy Roundtable. This prize honors Professor Kreuzman’s lifelong commitment to the practice of philosophy in the context of a liberal education. This commitment was manifested in his long teaching career at the College, his dedicated stewardship of the department, and in his reliable posing of penetrating questions and insightful comments at Philosophy Roundtable discussions. Recipients of the Kreuzman Book Prize have been:

  • 2023 – Peter Barker and Langston Hood
  • 2022 – Nicky Benya and Brendan Dufty


The Lindner Lecture on Ethics

The Lindner Endowment was established in 2007 by Carl H. Lindner of Cincinnati, Ohio, to benefit the Department of Philosophy. The purpose of the Lindner Lectureship is to support the teaching of ethics.

Past Speakers

  • 2022 – Dr. Jonardon Ganeri, University of Toronto
    • Title: “Buddhism and Critical Philosophy of Race: Are Identities Useful Fictions?”
    • Critics: Dr. Emille McRae (University of New Mexico) and Dr. Christian Coseru (College of Charleston)
  • 2021 – Dr. Leonard Harris, Purdue University
    • Title: “Philosophy: What Should It Mean in an Immoral World of Necro-being?”
    • Critics: Dr. LaRose Parris (Lehman College, CUNY) and Dr. Lee A. McBride III (The College of Wooster)
  • 2018 – Dr. Kate Manne, Cornell University
    • Title: “On Himpathy and Misogyny”
    • Critics: Dr. Vanessa Wills (George Washington University) and Dr. Lori Watson (University of San Diego)
  • 2017 – Dr. Debra Satz, Stanford University
    • Title: “Disturbing Schooling: The Place and Meaning of Equal Educational Opportunity”
    • Critics: Dr. Daniel Hausman (University of Wisconsin) and Dr. Kristi Olson (Bowdoin College)
  • 2015 – Dr. Lewis Gordon, University of Connecticut
    • Title: “When Justice is Not Enough”
    • Critics: Dr. Lucius T. Outlaw Jr. (Vanderbilt University) and Dr. Olufemi Taiwo (Cornell University)
  • 2014 – Dr. Linda Martin Alcoff, City University of New York
    • Title: “The Future of Whiteness”
  • 2013 – Dr. Tommie Shelby, Harvard University
    • Title: “Justice, Segregation, and the Ghetto Poor”
    • Critics: Dr. Jorge Garcia (Boston College) and Dr. Naomi Zack (University of Oregon)
  • 2012 – Dr. Elizabeth Anderson, University of Michigan
    • Title: “Tom Paine and the Ironies of Social Insurance”
    • Dr. David Schmidtz (University of Arizona) and Dr. Eleni Manis (Franklin and Marshall College)
  • 2011 – Dr. Christine M. Korsgaard, Harvard University
    • Title: “The Relational Nature of the Good”
    • Critics: Dr. Connie S. Rosati (University of Arizona) and Dr. Melissa Barry (Williams College)
  • 2010 – Dr. Susan Wolf, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • Title: “Good-for-Nothings”
  • 2009 – Dr. Nancy Fraser, The New School University
    • Title: “Who Counts as a Subject of Justice? National Citizenry, Global Humanity, or Transnational Community of Risk?”
  • 2008 – Dr. Charles W. Mills, Northwestern University
    • Title: “Racial Justice”

Faculty Emeriti