The Department of Philosophy at Cal State L.A. offers programs of study leading to the Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. Students majoring in other fields may choose among three minors: a general minor in Philosophy, a prelaw minor in Philosophy, and an interdisciplinary minor in Classics. These minors combine well with almost any major field of interest. A post-bachelor degree certificate program in Teaching Critical Thinking is also available. Students with a B. A. may enroll in the certificate program in Teaching Critical Thinking regardless of whether they are enrolled in the M.A. program.
The study of philosophy leads to self-reflection. In philosophy, students consider the meaning of life and the ways in which we understand the world and our place in it.
The study of philosophy has long been at the center of a liberal arts education because it encompasses both the fundamental values of our lives and the assumptions of knowledge and inquiry that are common to all academic disciplines. Philosophy majors read and discuss the writings of great thinkers from around the world, both past and present. These thinkers offer answers to questions such as the following: What kind of society is fair and just? Do human beings have free will? How should we act toward other people? Does God exist? What is the nature of consciousness? How can we justify what we claim to know? What does it mean to live a meaningful life? Philosophers even ask whether Socrates was right in his belief that the unexamined life is not worth living. In addition to these traditional philosophical questions, philosophers consider current issues such as feminism, multiculturalism, biomedical ethics, the environment, law and morality, and more. Whatever historical or contemporary topics philosophy majors study, they develop critical and analytical skills as well as a capacity for self-reflection and creative imagination.
Philosophy students become teachers, attorneys, doctors, ministers, administrators, writers, publishers, and business people. They successfully enter almost any field that sets a premium on critical analysis, depth of insight, and clarity of expression. Employers have discovered that philosophic training is a valuable asset because practical problem-solving abilities often rest on a deep theoretical foundation. Irrespective of one's career choice, philosophy promotes a full, enriching life.
The academic programs in philosophy are intended to engage students in philosophical inquiry. They aim to acquaint students with noteworthy contributions by philosophers to intellectual traditions; to explore various philosophical issues, problems, and questions; to provide students with principles of inquiry and evaluation relevant to the many areas of human activity, such as science, law, religion, education, government, art, and the humanities; to develop in them skills of analysis, criticism, and synthesis needed for advanced work in various scholarly fields; to encourage the development of skills and attitudes leading to self-reflection and life-long learning.