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Answer the most important questions of human existence

Integrating personal experience with philosophical reflection.

This major provides a flexible framework for students interested in philosophical questions.

The applied philosophy major emphasizes critical thinking and practical ethics, and thus is designed to be a useful second major, which becomes the area of 'application' for interdisciplinary study in the student's senior research.

The philosophy faculty must approve all programs in applied philosophy. The approval procedure requires that each student complete a plan for the major which must explain the reasons why he/she is undertaking this program and include a list of the courses to be taken in philosophy and from other departments.

By learning to think critically about the political, economic, social, and religious systems of our culture, we can reclaim an authentic version of ourselves.



Think deeply and carefully about important issues.

Students are engaged in one-on-one mentorship with faculty members who guide you in developing a personalized program of study based on your interests and goals. Courses also help you answer some of the most debated questions of human existence: How do we know what we know? What does it mean to exist, to be human? Does God exist? How can we live ethically?

Philosophy students work directly with a faculty member on a major interdisciplinary research project during their senior year. You’ll learn to articulate your own philosophical positions with clarity and depth both in writing and speech.

Recent research projects include:

  • The ethics of cloning humans
  • An examination of the ethics of intellectual property issues like copying software
  • Ethical standards in journalism
  • An ethical examination of human resources theories

What courses will I take?

Philosophy Major

PL 141Logic3
PL 269Introduction to Ethics3
PL 270Introduction to Asian Thought3
PL 310Special Topics: Applied Ethics3
PL 400Senior Independent Research and Writing3
Choose six additional semester hours in philosophy courses, at least three of which are numbered above 3006
Choose nine semester hours in approved courses from another department or other departments, six of which are numbered above 2009
Total Hours30

Philosophy Minor

PL 141Logic3
PL 269Introduction to Ethics3
PL 310Special Topics: Applied Ethics3
Choose six additional semester hours of philosophy electives, at least three of them numbered above 3006
Choose one upper division theory course from the student's major 13
Total Hours18

 Approval from philosophy advisor required

The following is the typical sequence of courses required for the major*:

PL 1413Holistic Health Domain3Elective6
Portal3 CO 1013
Writing Competency 4 Historical Roots Domain3
Elective3 Elective3
 13 3 15
PL 251 or 2613Elective3PL 2693
Math Competency3 Religious Studies Domain3
Natural World Domain4 Self and Society Domain3
Elective3 Elective3
 16 3 12
Fine Arts Domain3PL 2703PL 3103
Self and Society Domain3 Global Awareness Domain3
Literature Domain3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
 12 3 15
PL 3753Elective3PL 4003
Elective3 ME 4501
Elective3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
 12 3 16
Total Hours: 123

Note: Elective courses could be used for a second major, a minor, a course of interest, internship or study abroad experience. We strongly encourage Applied Philosophy majors to earn a second major. This 4-year plan assumes a second major with ten required courses.

Note: See the Curriculum section for more information on Portal, Competency, Domain, and Capstone courses.


The course offerings, requirements, and policies of Mount Mercy University are under continual examination and revision. This Catalog presents the offerings, requirements, and policies in effect at the time of publication and in no way guarantees that the offerings, requirements, and policies will not change.

This plan of study represents a typical sequence of courses required for this major. It may not be applicable to every student. Students should contact a department faculty member to be sure of appropriate course sequence.


PL 141 Logic: 3 semester hours

This course offers a combination for skills in a critical thinking, introductions to two types of formal logic, and a survey of informal logical fallacies, all with the aim of finding uses for those skills in real life. The goal for the class is to develop the ability to distinguish between successful and unsuccessful arguments by learning the structure for good thinking and evaluation the quality of evidence used to support an argument. There are not prerequisites.

PL 251 Introduction to Western Philosophy: 3 semester hours

This course introduces students to the origin of the western philosophical tradition. It traces the development of Western philosophy for Socrates to its first Christian expressions and examines the contribution made to Western culture by the philosophers of the classical period, especially Plato and Aristotle. Discussions focus on applying the insights of classical philosophers to contemporary issues. Both primary and secondary sources will be used. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

PL 261 Introduction to Philosophy of the Human Person: 3 semester hours

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of human nature. It examines some major theories that treat the nature of the human person. Such key issues as knowledge, freedom, immortality, and person are discussed. Pre requisite: sophomore standing.

PL 269 Introduction to Ethics: 3 semester hours

This course is an introduction to the philosophical discipline of ethics. Among the topics covered are: the nature of ethical inquiry, theories of happiness, an analysis of moral activity, the growth of personal moral character, differing approaches to normative evaluation (such as duty ethics and consequences ethics), and selected moral problems. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

PL 270 Introduction to Asian Thought: 3 semester hours

This is an introductory survey of the general philosophical themes of Indian, Chinese, and Japanese thought. Classical and contemporary sources will be studied. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.

PL 310 Special Topics: Applied Ethics: 3 semester hours

This course applies ethical theories to areas of work-related and social morality. We will examine the ethical responsibility of professional and several codes of professional ethics. We also will analyze select problems from the areas of business ethics, biomedical ethics, environmental ethics or other areas of contemporary interest. This course may be repeated if the area of application differs. Prerequisite: PL 269 or its equivalent.

PL 322 Philosophy of Art & Beauty: 3 semester hours

This course explores areas in aesthetics from a philosophical point of view, with an emphasis on relating aesthetics consistently to other philosophical concepts. Areas of discussion can include whether or not there is an objective basis for claims about art and beauty, definitions of art and beauty, qualities of an artist, and various aesthetic theories throughout the history of philosophy and art. Prerequisite: Completion of the core curriculum requirement in philosophy.

PL 360 Special Topics in the History of Philosophy: 3 semester hours

This course is an examination of important philosophical problems or issues. Course content will vary according to student interest. This course with different content may be repeated. Prerequisite: completion of the core curriculum requirement in philosophy.

PL 371 Contemporary Thought: 3 semester hours

This course is a critical study of how philosophers today have attempted to comprehend our humanness and our place in the universe. This course emphasizes the insights of contemporary philosophers into the unique problems of our time. Prerequisite: completion of core curriculum requirement in philosophy.

PL 375 Faith and Reason: 3 semester hours

This course examines issues in the philosophy of religion and application of the techniques of philosophical investigation to problems in Judeo-Christian and ecumenical theologies. Topics include argumentation for and against God's existence,. Various conceptions of the Godhead, the problem of Evil, the problem of truth and religious language, the question of the afterlife, a philosophical perspective on the nature of faith, Devin Revelation and religious experience. Prerequisites: Completion of the Core curriculum requirements in both philosophy and religious studies and at least a junior standing.

PL 400 Senior Independent Research and Writing: 3 semester hours

This is the capstone course for the major in philosophy. Students are required to write a philosophical paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor as an integral part of the capstone experience. Students are also required to do independent research using both primary and secondary sources and to apply their own philosophical reflection in writing a major paper. This course is open only to students majoring in philosophy. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

PL 445 Philosophy Independent Study: 3 semester hours

Independent study under faculty guidance of selected topic. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

What are the next steps?

Mount Mercy offers competitive tuition and generous scholarships.

We also encourage all students to apply for federal, state, and other kinds of financial assistance.

Learn more about:

We make it easy by accepting applications year-round! No deadline, no fee, no pressure.

  1. Create your application
  2. Apply under standard admissions criteria or go "test optional"
  3. Request official transcripts from all institutions previously attended. Mail to:

* Mount Mercy University Admissions
  1330 Elmhurst Drive NE
  Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

* If you are applying for an accelerated program, please mail to "Accelerated Programs"

For more detailed instructions on how to apply, see our Admissions page.

Careers in philosophy

Apply your critical, ethical thinking skill set.

The most obvious career path in philosophy is graduate school and then professorship. However, philosophy students generally excel at a variety of skills, including critical and higher-order thinking, finding key concepts in the midst of complex information, evaluating ideas, clarifying ethical dimensions, and communicating effectively.

As a result, our majors have succeeded in graduate schools in many disciplines, especially law school. In addition, philosophy students have found that these skills have contributed to their success in whatever field they enter.

Philosophy majors are also employed locally at:

  • Mercy Medical Center
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Horizons: A Family Service Alliance
  • Area Substance Abuse Council
  • Brucemore historic site and community cultural center