Confront some of life's biggest questions

What is the nature of the human mind? What makes a just society? How can we lead a moral life? 

Philosophy has long been a central component of a liberal arts education — and with good reason. It teaches you critical reasoning like no other discipline. It’s also an excellent addition to studies in mathematics and the sciences. 

In the Philosophy program at Waterloo, you’ll explore enduring dilemmas of human existence, learn the fundamentals of formal logic, and apply philosophical reasoning to highly topical issues and current events. And have the opportunity to apply it all in your co-op work terms, too.

Once you graduate, you’ll have a wide range of options. A philosophy degree is ideal for a career in law and valuable preparation for just about any field that demands breadth of thinking, careful reading, thorough analysis, and clear argumentation.

A library shelf of philosophy books.

70+ upper-year courses

Take advantage of an impressive variety of courses after first year, from metaphysics to feminist philosophy to the ethics of end-of-life care.

Get serious work experience

Explore potential careers while earning your Philosophy degree. Choose the co-op system and graduate with 20 months of paid experience.


icon of the globeInternational exchanges in 25 countries

briefcaseAvailable as a co-op and regular program

icon of open bookAvailable as a major and minor


Philosophy degree admissions

Apply to Honours Arts or Honours Arts and Business and choose Philosophy as your major at the end of first year.

Get tips from Waterloo students

Sign up for insider advice that can help you now and in the future. Topics include

  • tips for a successful senior year of high school,
  • how to choose a university program,
  • differences between high school and university, and more.

First-year courses

September to December

  • Choose one of:
  • Arts First requirement 1*
  • Three additional courses

January to April

  • Choose one of:
  • Arts First requirement 2*
  • Three additional courses

*The Arts First requirement consists of two first-year courses that are capped at 25 students: ARTS 130 - Inquiry and Communication and ARTS 140 - Information and Analysis. Instead of listening to a lecture and trying to capture notes, Arts First courses will have you and your classmates working together to respond to a challenge posed by the instructor.

After first year

About 40% of the classes you’ll take will be Philosophy courses. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.

Sample upper-year courses

PHIL 201 – Philosophy of Sex and Love
PHIL 208 – Philosophy Through Science Fiction
PHIL 216 – Probability and Decision Making
PHIL 327 – Philosophy of Law


icon of network of peopleOffered by the Faculty of Arts

Graduation capEarn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy


Co-op = relevant paid work experience

By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore new career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve.

Sample co-op job titles

  • Research assistant
  • Junior quality assurance analyst
  • Product development
  • Help desk representative

Sample co-op employers

  • Electronic Arts Ltd.
  • Top Hat Monocle
  • University of Waterloo
  • Unata

Customize your degree

You can add additional areas of expertise by including one or more of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular choices for Philosophy students include Political Science and Catholic Studies.

What can you do with a philosophy degree?

Graduates often pursue careers in teaching, law, consulting, and program coordination. They commonly work for schools, government departments, and more.

Recent graduates

  • Citizen Services Officer – Service Canada Centre
  • Global Service Provider, Operations Team – Cisco Systems 
  • Senior Systems Analyst – BMO Bank of Montreal
  • Early Childhood Educator – Sacred Heart Day Nursery
  • Lawyer - Kim Fullerton, Barrister and Solicitor
  • Analyst - Treasury Board of Canada

Learn about the future of careers in arts, humanities, social sciences, languages, and creative arts.

Ready to learn more?