Majoring in Philosophy


Major in philosophy and you explore 2,500 years of thought – starting with the ancient Greeks and Romans – and learn to make connections to such fields as law, gender, neuroscience, art and the environment. You are exposed to both continental and analytical traditions in philosophy, and you engage in a sustained way with the history of philosophy. In some courses, you spend a whole semester studying the work of a significant philosopher. Your professors are active scholars who have written and edited books on topics that include the philosophy of Hans Jonas, the philosophy of mind, German romanticism, the philosophy of paleontology, and God.

Research opportunities

Outstanding students devote a year to an honors project. Recent topics ranged from the concept of nostalgia to the ethical and legal underpinnings of the International Criminal Court. Students have presented conference papers at places like SUNY Oneonta and Pacific University in Oregon. Funding is available for students to work with faculty on research. It's unusual in our discipline, but professors have published with students and traveled with them to present co-authored papers at professional meetings.

Guest lectures

Our guest lecture series, "Pizza and Profundity," brings both up-and-coming and established philosophers to our campus. Recent speakers have included Tamar Gendler, Elizabeth Harman and Sally Haslanger. After each lecture, students join the philosophy faculty in taking the speaker to a local restaurant, where the conversation continues.

What can you do with a majorcertificate in Philosophy?

Here are some of the positions our graduates have gone on to hold:

  • Chief Investment Officer, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
  • Investing Editor, New York Times
  • Director of Interactive Strategy, Outthink LLC
  • Associate General Counsel, Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board
  • Senior Associate, Harvard Management Co.
  • English Teacher, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
  • Marketing Manager, General Mills Inc.
  • Assistant in Medicaid Fraud Division, New York State Office of the Attorney General
  • Professor of Philosophy, California State University (Sacramento)
  • Art Director, Oxfam America
  • Clinical Social Worker, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Associate Provost and Dean of Students, Vanderbilt University
  • Founder and CEO, Castle Island Brewing Co.
  • Editorial Associate, The Foundation Center
  • East Africa Senior Program Officer, National Democratic Institute
  • Healthcare Analyst, BearingPoint
  • Ph.D. Candidate, University of Connecticut


Simon D. Feldman, Associate Professor of Philosophy Simon D. Feldman, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Simon D. Feldman, Associate Professor of Philosophy  (On sabbatical 2014-2015 academic year)
Ethics • Moral psychology • Feminist philosophy • Philosophy of law

Andrew Pessin, Professor of Philosophy Andrew Pessin, Professor of Philosophy

Andrew Pessin, Professor of Philosophy
Early modern philosophy • Metaphysics • Philosophy of mind • Philosophy of language • Philosophy of religion

Kristin Pfefferkorn, Associate Professor of Philosophy Kristin Pfefferkorn, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Kristin Pfefferkorn, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Philosophy of art and architecture • Philosophy of film • Feminist philosophy • 19th and 20th-century continental philosophy • German Romanticism

Derek Turner, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of the Philosophy Department Derek Turner, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of the Philosophy Department

Derek Turner, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of the Philosophy Department
Philosophy of science • Philosophy of biology • Environmental philosophy

Larry Vogel, Professor of Philosophy Larry Vogel, Professor of Philosophy

Larry Vogel, Professor of Philosophy
Ethics • Applied ethics • Phenomenology and existentialism

J. Melvin Woody, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy J. Melvin Woody, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy

J. Melvin Woody, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
Existentialism • Philosophy of mind • Philosophy of psychiatry • Social and cultural theory • Philosophy of law • Philosophy of history

Student profile

Norah Hannel Norah Hannel


Q: Why Connecticut College?
A: I fell for the diverse course selection. I liked the erudite and encouraging faculty, the engaging discussion-based classes, the nationally ranked top-10 career services office, and the honor code – it promised an atmosphere of warm-heartedness and respect.

Q: What has been your most challenging or rewarding class?
A: "Feminist Philosophy" with Professor Feldman uprooted my assumptions regarding not only feminism but also ethics, semantics, politics, culture and my own personal experiences.

Q: Did you study abroad?
A: I went to Paris. The chance to take philosophy classes at the Sorbonne – the stomping grounds of Jean-Luc Godard and Simone de Beauvoir – and wander aimlessly down little cobblestone tributaries of bakeries and flower shops was a dream.

Q: What role has CELS, the College's career development and internship program, played for you?
A: It has enriched my understanding of the job-search process. My CELS counselors have been a guiding light in proposing possibilities for my future, and I know that I will consult them whenever I apply for jobs further down the road.

Selected courses

  • American Philosophy
  • The Philosophy of Perception
  • History of Ancient Philosophy
  • History of Modern Philosophy
  • Existential Philosophy
  • Happiness
  • Heidegger
  • Philosophy and Film
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Philosophy of Race and Racism
  • Philosophy of Art
  • The Science and Ethics of Extinction
  • The Divided Self


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