Majors and Minors

Majors and Minors


Our majors don’t learn skills that are specific to any single industry—they learn the reading, writing, and reasoning skills that will enable them to succeed in whatever careers they select. Some students come to college knowing what they want to do, and thereby know what subjects they need to study. But most students haven’t really had the opportunity to explore in any sustained way what they need to know about themselves to choose a career! 

Our majors get the opportunity to think about the fundamental issues that will need to be addressed in seeking a first job
What do I actually want to spend my time doing or thinking about? What sort of society do I want to live in, and what do I need to contribute to that society? What are my priorities and what sorts of jobs will be able to support those priorities? Have my priorities changed? Am I headed in a good direction? What kind of person do I want to be? 

Thinking about choosing a single career may not make sense for most people these days. Numbers vary, but many expect to change jobs (if not careers) 3-7 times. What’s great about our majors is that they not only have a better understanding of themselves when seeking a first job, but they have the skills they will need as they are seeking subsequent jobs or career paths throughout their lifetime! No other major is like this—thinking carefully about life changes and their consequences is in our wheelhouse! 

Majoring isn’t just about preparation for employment—that’s only a small part of your life. Our majors develop abilities that also enable them to becoming a good citizen in a democracy. A good citizen needs to be able to solve problems that have persisted through millennia as well as problems that have not yet been anticipated, and do so thoughtfully. They need to be able to determine what is true and what matters. Andrew Delbanco’s College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, provides a list of “qualities of mind and heart” that are necessary for citizenship and which colleges should help their students develop. Quoting them in their entirety (from Inside HigherEd):

“A skeptical discontent with the present, informed by a sense of the past. The ability to make connections among seemingly disparate phenomena. An appreciation of the natural world, enhanced by knowledge of science and the arts. A willingness to imagine experience from perspectives other than one’s own. A sense of ethical responsibility.”

Studying philosophy and religion, will develop these qualities in particular, and doing so will allow you to contribute meaningfully in all realms of life, public and private.

In your studies, you may determine that you want to add a secondary body of expertise—many students double major to add an additional domain of knowledge to what they have developed in our courses.


Many students come to our department late in their collegiate careers. Accordingly, we have tried to make the requirements for majoring as flexible as possible.

In addition to the standard Arts & Sciences requirements, students only need 30 hours in departmental courses.

Double Majoring

Many of our faculty have research interests that cross disciplinary boundaries, so it is of little surprise to us that many of our students have considerable interests in multiple disciplines and often look to double major. Students from practically every college at MSU have double majored at one point or another, but some of the most common parings are with

  • Anthropology
  • Biology
  • Communication/Journalism
  • English
  • English/Linguistics
  • Foreign Languages
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Psychology

If you are interested in majoring in multiple fields, reach out to an advisor. You can do a little preliminary sleuthing by doing a “What-if” CAPP report. This will generate a hypothetical CAPP showing where your completed courses might count.


Minoring in PHI is straightforward: A student must earn 15 hours in PHI courses (at any level, no more than 3 hours in REL can count)

Minoring in REL is straightforward: A student must earn 15 hours in REL courses (at any level, no more than 3 hours in PHI can count)

One can officially become a minor by filing a change of major form (indicating the addition of a new concentration/minor) or simply by applying for the minor at the time of graduation.

If you wish to add a minor in PHI or REL, please go HERE/LINK.

Graduate Students

Mississippi State has no graduate degree programs within our department. If you are interested in graduate school:

Graduate students at MSU can take the following PHI courses at the graduate level: 

  • PHI 6123 - Contemporary Continental Philosophy
  • PHI 6143 - Philosophy of Science
  • PHI 6173 - Philosophy of Biology
  • PHI 6223 - Philosophy of Cognitive Science
  • PHI 8101 - Case Studies in Scientific Research Ethics

Graduate-level Directed Independent Studies in PHI or REL are also possible 

Graduate Minor Requirements

Requirements are usually controlled by degree program of the candidate, but standard is 6-9 hours for M.A. students and 9-12 hours for Ph.D. students.

Graduate Committee Membership

All of our Ph.D. faculty are qualified to serve on graduate committees in other departments, and some can direct masters or Ph.D. work under the auspices of other departments.