Why major in Philosophy?

“All humans, by nature, desire to know,” claimed Aristotle.

At Mount Mary University, the philosophy program engages your innate desire to know through courses that are part of the university’s core curriculum, majors or minors. The philosophy program emphasizes reasoning, reflection, an awareness of the whole, and a sensitivity to different experiences, opinions and beliefs, especially those of women.

A Place for Women Who Think

Today, only 28% of Ph.D.s in Philosophy go to women. This has never deterred Mount Mary women from pursuing a philosophical education. Mount Mary has always been a place where women in philosophy have thrived.

At a time when Edith Stein could not get a position teaching philosophy in a German university because German universities prohibited women from teaching as professors in philosophy, Mount Mary College had multiple women teaching philosophy. Indeed, S. Mary Lioba Diedrich earned her doctorate in philosophy from the University of Toronto and was Dean of the College in 1930 and chair of the philosophy program from its inception.

This was in the 1930s when Simone de Beauvoir, who received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the Sorbonne, was unable to publish in philosophy because "the house of Gallimard did not understand books written by women" (Bair, Deirdre. Simone de Beauvoir: A biography. New York: Summit, 1990). Yet, S. Mary Lioba Diedrich was publishing articles with the National Catholic Education Journal on "Distinctive Problems of our College for Women" (1931).

The legacy of women in philosophy was unbroken throughout the decades. In 1945, S. M. Julienne Junkersfeld received the only Ph.D. that year which was granted in philosophy from Notre Dame University in South Bend. Her dissertation was titled "The Aristotelian--Thomistic Concept of Chance." She chaired the philosophy program at Mount Mary University for the next two decades. She was joined by other women with Masters in philosophy and Ph.D's in other disciplines, as well, of course, as the occasional male professor. In 1965, Sister Mary Brian Overfield joined the department.  She received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto and remained until 1974. S. Carol Marie Wildt was the last SSND who taught in the philosophy department. Lay women with Ph.D's in philosophy have been the majority of professors in the department since 1998.

Importantly, the remarkable women in the history of the Mount Mary philosophy department were never single discipline academics. They taught classes in English, History, and Education and took jobs in a variety of fields inside and outside of academia. Their legacy is that philosophy is a the study of meaning in human life, a study appropriate for all women no matter what profession they choose. That is a legacy we still carry with us at Mount Mary University, a place where we welcome all women who think.

Diverse Career Opportunities

Recent Mount Mary graduates in philosophy are employed in careers in art, education, family studies, library and information sciences, social work, theology, women’s studies and academic philosophy. A degree in philosophy can prepare you for a diverse range of careers. Discover more about creating a career with a philosophy degree.

Engaging Curriculum

Mount Mary offers a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy degree as well as a minor in philosophy. Philosophy courses cover topics such as history of philosophy, ethics, applications of ethics and specific issues in philosophy. The goal of every philosophy course is to engage you in your own process of questioning, critical evaluation and self-inquiry.

Philosophy Activities Outside of Class

All Mount Mary students are welcome to participate in the Philosophy Club, which hosts events throughout the academic year.

Scholarships for Philosophy Students

Thanks to the generosity of alumnae and friends of the university, philosophy scholarships are awarded to select students each year:

  • Sister Aloysia Freund Award: This award is given to a student who excels in the “Search for Meaning” course. There is no formal application for this award. The recipient does not need to be a philosophy major.
  • John Carmichael Memorial Award: This award is given to an outstanding philosophy major. Philosophy faculty members choose the recipient. There is no formal application for this award.

Senior Projects: Project Diotima

The Mount Mary University Project Diotima brings you content from our Philosophy majors completing their Senior Independent Study. Each student chooses a philosophical topic, such as Justice or The Soul, and reads six books to deepen and broaden her knowledge in the global history of philosophy. 

Learn More

Discover how philosophy inspires this recent grad

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