What’s different about Mount Mary’s Philosophy Major?

”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.

Minor in Philosophy

Complete degree requirements for a minor in philosophy and a listing of courses are available in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

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.

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.

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.

Project Diotima
Scholarships for Philosophy Students

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.

Learn more about Mount Mary's Philosophy Degree

Mount Mary offers a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. A major in philosophy cultivates critical judgment and problem-solving skills, as well as a sensitivity to social, moral and political issues—important life skills that are helpful in any career or as preparation for advanced study. A minor in philosophy also is available.

Philosophy Courses

Philosophy majors are required to fulfill all core requirements of the university, plus 20 credits of upper level philosophy courses and a 2 credit senior independent study. 

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.

Several philosophy courses are offered as part of the university's Honors Program and study abroad programs. Courses are available in accelerated formats, as well as during the summer session and during regular semesters. All courses are taught by faculty—not by teaching assistants.

Complete degree requirements and a listing of courses are available in the Undergraduate Bulletin (PDF).

Philosophy Minor

Philosophy adds an important enriching and resume-building dimension to any area of study by teaching students about intellectual depth, logical skills and ethics.

The philosophy minor requires 12 credits of upper level philosophy courses, in addition to completing the university's core requirements. Consult the Undergraduate Bulletin (PDF) for more details on requirements and courses for this minor.

Philosophy Learning Objectives

The objectives for Mount Mary's philosophy major and minor are to:

  • develop ethically reflective students capable of the self-knowledge essential to leadership and social justice
  • help students acquire a proficiency in the method of philosophical reflection and conversation
  • help students acquire an in-depth knowledge of the thought of at least four major philosophers, including at least two from different historical periods in Western philosophy and at least one from a group traditionally unrepresented in the Western Canon (such as African-American philosophers, women philosophers or Eastern philosophers)
  • give students an ability to discuss effectively the various aspects of some major philosophical issues (such as nature of the human person or the sources of morality)
  • give students who express the desire and possess the ability for graduate work in philosophy the skills and extra background necessary to apply for master's work


The School of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Interdisciplinary Studies at Mount Mary is rich with talented faculty who care about their students.


All Mount Mary students are welcome to participate in the Philosophy Club, which hosts philosophical events throughout the academic year. Events include lectures, panel discussions, movies, field trips, parties and conferences.

Each fall, the club holds a philosophy awareness day to promote philosophical thinking on campus. Each winter, the club holds a philosophical valentine sale, which has gained media attention over the past few years.

Club members also hold workshops on philosophy for children and plan discussions on campus.

To give a paper, lead a discussion or participate in any way, contact Jennifer Hockenbery, the club's faculty adviser.

Philosophy majors and minors also have the opportunity to contribute to Project Diotima as a part of their capstone experience.

A degree in philosophy can prepare you for a diverse range of careers in fields such as:

  • Advertising
  • Banking
  • Education
  • Government
  • Law and criminal justice
  • Management
  • Medicine
  • Publishing
  • Systems analysis

Most Mount Mary philosophy majors have two majors: one in philosophy and one in a career-oriented major within the university. While a philosophy major pairs well with every other major offered by the university, programs in art, business, education, social work and theology are popular majors to pair with a philosophy major.

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.

Career Opportunities with an Advanced Degree in Philosophy

Mount Mary’s philosophy major prepares students for careers in teaching and research in philosophy, or can supplement knowledge in another career field such as law or medical ethics. A graduate degree in philosophy at the master’s or doctoral level typically is required for these career opportunities.

Philosophy graduates who teach and research at a postsecondary school earn a median salary of about $65,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nearly 60 percent of Mount Mary’s philosophy graduates have earned an advanced degree. Graduates from Mount Mary have performed successful graduate work at Boston College, George Washington University, Marquette University, Northern Illinois University and other universities.

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