Philosophy Students

The Philosophy Department offers numerous ways for students to get involved through scholarship, research or clubs.


Sensitive, informed academic advising is essential for any well-rounded undergraduate experience. Small departments with close faculty-student relationships are the norm at Dominican, and the philosophy department is no exception.  Philosophy majors will work closely with their advisors to tailor their class selections to meet their academic needs and interests.

All majors will benefit from completing the Philosophy Advising Worksheet early in the process.

In particular, students who hope to attend graduate school in philosophy should discuss their plans with their advisor as early as possible. Some philosophy courses may only be offered every other year, so careful planning is essential.

Honor Society

Phi Sigma Tau is the International Honor Society in Philosophy. Founded in 1930, the Society has more than 200 chapters throughout the United States and Canada. Dominican has hosted PST’s Mu Chapter since 1995.

Phi Sigma Tau’s purpose is to honor students’ achievements in philosophy classes, and to encourage interest and activity among students. PST also promotes ties among philosophy departments in accredited institutions.
Undergraduate students are eligible for membership if they:

  • Have completed at least three semesters of college coursework
  • Have completed at least two courses in philosophy
  • Earn a 3.5 GPA in philosophy with an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher.

New members are inducted each spring.

PST members may submit contributions to Dialogue, the national Phi Sigma Tau journal. This national publication covers all areas of contemporary philosophical research.

Members also receive the PST Newsletter, which is published three times yearly. The Newsletter contains news of local chapter activities around the country.

Philosophy Club

The Philosophy Club is open to any Dominican student who is curious about philosophy and philosophy-related issues, and would like opportunities to talk about them freely.

Philosophy Club activities have included:

  • Sponsoring talks by student members, Dominican faculty and invited guest speakers from outside the University
  • Hosting discussions of films
  • Organizing debates on socially relevant issues

One important Philosophy club priority is to support University participation in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. Each October, Dominican holds its own campus-wide ethics bowl. The winners then participate in a regional tournament (sponsored by the Association for Practical and Applied Ethics in November) where they compete for a spot in the national tournament held each spring.

Community-Based Learning

As a Catholic university, Dominican places a strong emphasis on service learning, a method of teaching that combines academic instruction with community service.

A service learning option may be available in some philosophy classes.  In the past, PHIL 241: Ethics, and PHIL 210: Philosophy and Contemporary Issues have provided students with the opportunity to engage in service learning.  

Service learning provides students with a way to see the theories they study in action, to bring their service experiences to share with the class, and to deepen their understanding of various social issues.

Additionally, service learning can be self-initiated through an agreement among the student, the professor and the Community-Based Learning Center. The self-initiated option carries one unit of academic credit.

Undergraduate Research

Dominican has committed extensive resources to fostering undergraduate research in all fields through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Investigations.

One highlight is the URCI Expo, a day-long event in which students from all departments present papers, poster sessions and panels relating to their independent research.

Other opportunities include:

Advanced philosophy students should strongly consider pursuing undergraduate research opportunities through URCI.


At Dominican University, each department is proud to recognize its most accomplished students.  The Outstanding Senior award is given to a graduating student who with an excellent GPA and who has made consistent outstanding academic and co-curricular contributions within the philosophy department.  

Philosophy – Outstanding Senior

2008    Jesus Molinar
2006    Anna Valiavska

Capstone Seminar

“We typically decide in conversation with students what shape the capstone seminar  needs to take—we know what their strengths and weaknesses are, and we try to give them the opportunity to explore something that really excites them.” -Kelly Burns, PhD, Associate  Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair

The Philosophy Department requires all majors to complete a capstone seminar (Philosophy 410)  to graduate. Students will be able to pursue in-depth studies of philosophical topics, chosen in consultation with faculty members.  Philosophy minors are encouraged, but not required, to complete this seminar  as well.

The capstone seminar occurs during the spring semester of the senior year.

Law School

“The skills we emphasize in philosophy—critical thinking and careful arguments made using language very precisely—are exactly what lawyers do when they’re writing a contract or arguing a case.” -Kelly Burns, PhD, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair

Students who wish to attend law school may find that philosophy, either alone or as part of a double major, provides ideal training at the undergraduate level to prepare for the rigors of law school. Among other qualifications, law schools look for students who have taken challenging courses involving complex and critical reasoning, careful thinking and the ability to create and support an intellectual argument are crucial skills in both philosophy and law.

Philosophy students considering a law career should discuss this interest with their academic advisor as soon as possible.  Students with an interest in law school are encouraged to take Philosophy 250: Logic and Critical Thinking.

The Political Science department houses Dominican’s pre-law advising program. The pre-law advisor provides guidance and resources to any Dominican student in any major who is interested in a legal career.