Research within the Department of Philosophy is an integral part of the major. Students may complete research through participation in the honors program, through an independent study course or on their own, often with the help of a research fellowship awarded by the School of Arts & Sciences.
The philosophy honors program involves a year's worth of work under the direction of a faculty member, the end result of which is an extensively researched thesis. Participants in the honors program have the option of continuing a subject or research area that they first discovered in the classroom or formulating a completely new topic based on a particular interest. Faculty thesis directors guide students as their topic grows and changes and provide resources that are helpful to the research process. Often, students incorporate an independent study course into their research plan so that they can dedicate more of their weekly schedule to research. Students who write honors theses can present their work in the spring of their senior year at the School of Arts & Sciences’ Student Symposium.
The School of Arts & Sciences provides a number of research fellowships for students to complete summer research on campus. In addition, students who are invited to present their research at a regional or national conference or meeting can apply for travel funds through the School. If you want to get involved in undergraduate research, the best thing you can do is talk to a professor whose research area interests you, and ask him or her about the best way to get involved.
Additional research opportunities are available for students enrolled in an independent study course. Independent research with the assistance of a faculty member is an excellent way to explore a particular area of philosophy while earning academic credit.
Highly qualified and motivated juniors with at least a 3.0 GPA may apply to take Philosophy 390/Independent Study during one or both semesters of their senior year. The course's focus will be on research and it is expected that students will write a substantial paper based on the proposal they developed and submitted for approval during their junior year. Students should consult with their major advisor about deadlines and proposal requirements.
Many students find that the relationship they build with a faculty mentor while pursuing their independent research strengthens their commitment to pursuing the study of philosophy at the graduate level.