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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.

Once you graduate, you’ll have a wide range of options. Philosophy is ideal training 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.

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

Want hands-on, paid work experience? Choose the co-op system by studying Philosophy through Honours Arts and Business.


About Philosophy at Waterloo

briefcase Available as a co-op and regular program

Graduation cap Earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy

icon of the globeInternational exchanges in 25 countries

icon of network of peopleOffered by the Faculty of Arts

icon of open bookAvailable as a major and minor



First-year courses

September to December

Choose 1 from:
 • PHIL 101 - Challenging Ideas: An Introduction to Philosophy
 • PHIL 121 - Moral Issues
 • PHIL 145 - Critical Thinking
Arts First requirement 1*
3 additional courses

January to April

Choose 1 from:
 • PHIL 101 - Challenging Ideas: An Introduction to Philosophy
 • PHIL 121 - Moral Issues
 • PHIL 145 - Critical Thinking
Arts First requirement 2*
3 additional courses

*The Arts First requirement consists of 2 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 Philosophy 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


Customize your Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy

Add additional areas of interest and expertise by including a minor (or minors) as part of your degree.​​


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. Co-op is available if you study Philosophy through Honours Arts and Business.

Recent graduates of Waterloo Philosophy

  • Program Coordinator, Ministry of Community & Social Services, Ontario
  • Teacher, Germantown Academy
  • Divisional Office Services Coordinator, Kingston General Hospital
  • Managing Director, I.T. Manager, Freemont Corporate Services
  • Executive Director, Government of Manitoba
  • Teacher, Queen Victoria Junior Public School
  • Consultant, Enterprise Risk, Deloitte & Touche LLP

More about Philosophy at Waterloo