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The philosophy degree involves you in thinking deeply about fundamental assumptions that shape our lives.

What Studying Philosophy Can Do For You

The philosophy BA is for people who are not satisfied with surface answers, but want to think deeply about our most fundamental beliefs about what is real, what we can know, and how we should live. Philosophy majors study what the great thinkers of the past have said, but doing philosophy also means thinking through the issues, coming to conclusions of your own, and using logical arguments to support those conclusions.

Philosophy teaches you to:

  • recognize questionable assumptions
  • develop your ideas clearly and precisely
  • distinguish between good and bad reasons
  • provide reasoned support for your views
  • understand things from multiple points of view


After taking Introduction to Philosophy and Logic, students can choose among a range of upper-level courses, including:

  • Classical Philosophy
  • Modern Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Critical Thinking
  • Philosophy of Human Nature
  • Evil
  • Philosophy of Love and Sexuality
  • Philosophy Through Science Fiction
  • Philosophy and Film
  • Existentialism
  • Political Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Epistemology

Degree Options

There are two Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees available with this major.

More about this Major


Philosophy emphasizes skills that are useful in many careers, such as reading and understanding complex materials, developing logical arguments, explaining ideas clearly in oral and written form, and thinking about things from alternative perspectives.

USM philosophy graduates have become teachers, business managers, lawyers, ministers, counselors, strategic planning directors, diplomats, nonprofit administrators and more.

Philosophy is an excellent major for those planning graduate or professional studies after their BA. Philosophy majors outperform just about every other major on graduate and professional school entrance examinations, including exams for law school and graduate studies in business.

In recent years, our graduates have succeeded at law schools including Boston University, Duke University, Loyola University, University of Baltimore, University of North Carolina, University of Oregon, University of Alabama and University of Mississippi.
The philosophy faculty includes a Moorman Distinguished Professor, a University Grand Marshall Distinguished Professor, and a winner of the University Award for Teaching Excellence.

Courses You Might Take

PHI 317: Philosophy Through Science Fiction

Abstract art

Science fiction’s thought experiments provide a framework for issues in metaphysics—appearance vs. reality, personal identity; as well as in philosophy of mind—what is the nature of mind and the possibility of artificial intelligence; in ethics—what does it mean to be a moral person? How should we treat others, who may be quite unlike ourselves?; and in philosophy of science—what is the nature of time and is time travel possible?

PHI 333: Philosophy of Love and Sexuality:

Couple embracing

We will consider such matters as the nature and origin of both love and sexuality; the relationship between love, sexuality, and marriage; erotic love; Christian love; Romantic love; psychoanalytic theories of love and sexuality; feminist perspectives on love, etc.

PHI 372: Philosophy of Religion

Man praying under a tree as sun sets

Do religious beliefs need to be supported by evidence? Is religious experience an acceptable basis of belief? How should the term “God” be understood? Are there good arguments for God’s existence? What are the most significant objections to religious belief?

PHI 451: Political Philosophy

U.S. Capitol building

What, if any, obligation do we have to obey the law? Under what conditions are we justified in ignoring the law? What is the justification of political coercion? What is the justification of punishment, or property? What is the purpose of government? What is the best way to organize civil society? What is justice? Why can’t we all just get along?

PHI 462: Evil

Man holding knife

What is wrong-doing? Evil-doing? What kinds are there? This course examines two types of genocide, torture, enslavement, terrorism, unjust war, and destruction of ecosystems worldwide.

Meet Some of Your Professors

Sam Bruton

Associate Professor

Favorite Course: PHI 329: Philosophy of Sport

Expertise: Ethics, Research Ethics

Michael DeArmey


Favorite Course: PHI 462: Evil

Expertise: American Philosophy, Philosophical Psychology

David M. Holley

Professor and Department Chair

Favorite Course: PHI 372: Philosophy of Religion

Expertise: Philosophy of Religion, Ethics

Morgan Rempel

Associate Professor

Favorite Course: PHI 450: Existentialism

Expertise: Continental Philosophy, Classical Philosophy

Paula Smithka

Associate Professor

Favorite Course: PHI 317: Philosophy Through Science Fiction or PHI 316: Philosophy of Science

Expertise: Philosophy of Science, Social/Political Philosophy

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Southern Miss undergraduate degrees are available online, at the Hattiesburg campus, at the Gulf Park campus, and/or through a hybrid delivery that includes both online and on-campus courses.