Philosophy is the attempt to understand the truth about ourselves, the world we inhabit, and our place in it. Philosophy asks the big questions: What is the general structure of reality? What makes something good or beautiful? What is knowledge? How should society be organized? What is the relationship between mind and body?, In answering these questions, philosophers subject our most basic ideas to detailed analysis, critically reflect on cutting edge empirical investigations, and work to construct satisfactory, large scale theories of reality.

The Philosophy program at Queen’s provides students with critical thinking and reading skills, enabling them to uncover hidden assumptions, identify core premises, evaluate arguments and communicate ideas effectively. Courses, such as Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Medicine, Epistemology and Metaphysics, and Moral Philosophy offer a variety of perspectives on important philosophical issues as they range from historical to contemporary, and from broad topical investigations to problem-based inquiries.

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Watson Hall
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Susanne Cliff-Jüngling

Degree Options

Bachelor of Arts (Honours) - BAH

Major in Philosophy
A major is an intensive course of study in one discipline, with approximately half of your courses within the discipline with room for an optional minor in any other Arts and Science discipline.

Medial in Philosophy
A dual course of study in Philosophy and any other Arts discipline.

Minor in Philosophy
A minor is a less intensive course of study in the discipline that must be combined with a major in another discipline.

For a full list of Degree Plans, see the Academic Calendar

Graduate Degree Options

Philosophy - PhD
Philosophy - MA
Political Thought - MA (Politics / Philosophy)

Job and Career Opportunities for Philosophy Grads

Philosophy (love of wisdom) is not so much a body of knowledge, as it is a critical approach to our understanding of knowledge, reality, value, etc. For example, we engage philosophically by critically examining the assumptions, methods and substantive conclusions drawn by scientists, mathematicians, historians, writers and thinkers of all kinds. As the great British philosopher Bertrand Russell put it, "Philosophy is merely the attempt to answer... ultimate questions, not carelessly and dogmatically, as we do in ordinary life and even in the sciences, but critically, after exploring all that makes such questions puzzling, and after realizing all the vagueness and confusion that underlie our ordinary ideas."

Some of our Philosophy grads work in the following industries:

  • Advertising
  • Anthropology
  • Archival Science
  • Bioethics
  • Consulting - Management
  • Counselling
  • Corporate Training / Development
  • Community Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Foreign Service
  • Fundraising
  • Funeral Services
  • Health Administration
  • Hospital Administration & Public Health
  • Hospice & Palliative Care
  • Human Resources
  • Human Rights  
  • International Development
  • Librarianship
  • Naturopathic Medicine
  • Patent Law
  • Performance – Music, Theatre, Art
  • Post-conflict Resolution and Peace-building
  • Protective Services
  • Public Administration, Policy & Service
  • Social Work
  • Theology
  • Writing
  • Urban and Regional Planning

Career paths for Philosophy grads handout from Career Services >

Alumni Profile

“My experience at Queen’s has been exceptionally rewarding. The Philosophy department is both intimate and vibrant – offering the benefits of smaller classes with the advantages of a diverse faculty. The departmental life is further enriched by the internationally renowned academics that frequently speak at our weekly classes. The professors here have shown themselves to be both supportive and challenging.”
Christine Esselmont, PhD. candidate

Undergraduate Course Highlights

Courses in Philosophy will ask the Fundamental Questions – in fact there’s even a course with that title where you will discuss and debate moral obligations, free will, gender roles, taking responsibility for the environment and the meaning of life. Choose from options including Continental Philosophy, Bioethics, the Philosophy of Law, Business and Ethics, and the Philosophy of Mind. Don’t miss our second-year courses on Animals and Society, Humans and the Natural World, and Perspectives on Social Diversity.

Undergraduate Admission for Philosophy

Students apply to Queen’s Arts (QA) through the OUAC (Ontario Universities Application Centre) website ( Secondary School prerequisites include six 4U and 4M courses, including a minimum of three 4U courses, one of which must be ENG4U. Applicants outside of Ontario may have additional requirements.

Research in Philosophy at Queen's

In the burgeoning field of critical animal studies, Queen’s Philosophy is establishing a home for scholars focused on the ethical, legal and political dimensions of human-animal relationships. 

Forum for Philosophy and Public Policy

The Forum for Philosophy and Public Policy is hosted in the Philosophy Department. Please see Will Kymlicka's webpage for information related to it.

Graduate Studies in Philosophy

Queen's offers high quality graduate programs that aspire to give students both a solid general education in philosophy and opportunities for specialized work on topics of students' choosing. The Queen's faculty is very productive in a broad range of areas of research. The small size of the graduate programs allows for individual attention and a collegial atmosphere.

Graduates of the Ph.D. program have gone on to positions at the University of Ottawa, the University of Winnipeg, and Memorial University, amongst others. Graduates of the Master's program have gone on to positions in the private sector, Law programs at schools such as Queen's, U of T, Dalhousie, and McGill, and Ph.D. programs at U of T, Harvard, Oxford, Cornell, Arizona, UCLA, UWO, and Pittsburgh.

Master of Arts

The M.A. program is a 12 month program. It is unique amongst Canadian M.A. programs designed to be completed in one year: students have the opportunity to explore their interests through both graduate seminars and Directed Studies courses (completed over the Fall and Winter terms), and an M.A. thesis on a topic of their own choosing, written under the supervision of a Faculty member over the Spring and Summer terms, and defended at the end of the summer or in the very early Fall.

The terrific writing and analytic skills that M.A. candidates develop over the course of the year have consistently made them very desirable candidates for jobs in both the public and private sectors, and sought after applicants at the best Law Schools, professional M.A. and M.B.A. programs, and the most competitive Ph.D. programs in North America and Europe.

Master of Arts - Political Thought
Collaborative Program with Politics

The Dept of Philosophy and the Dept of Political Studies at Queen’s have a new 12 month MA in Political Thought.  We offer courses on such topics as:  Moral Philosophy, Bioethics, Just War Theory, Equality, Social and Political Philosophy, Global Justice, Ethics and Animals.

The Queen’s Collaborative Program in Political Thought offers students the chance to complete an MA in either Philosophy or Political Studies with a specialization in Political Thought.  Students enrolled in the program can take designated political thought courses from both departments.  “Political thought” is defined broadly so as to include (1) the analysis of basic normative concepts such as justice, equality, and liberty; (2) the elaboration of such concepts in philosophies such as liberalism, Marxism and feminism; and (3) the historical development of these ideas; and (4) the application of these ideas to law and policy, e.g., trade, immigration, religious accommodation.  

The Political Thought program builds on the close connections that currently exist between Philosophy and Political Studies.  This is an exciting opportunity to intensively engage in an important interdisciplinary field with leading scholars in a lively intellectual community. Students interested in the Collaborative Program in Political Thought are encouraged to contact the contributing departments (see program contacts at right) to determine which Department is best aligned with their academic and research interests.

More information on this program

Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D program affords opportunities to pursue high level studies and research and to work closely with members of Faculty. Ph.D candidates complete their course requirements, six half-courses, in their first year. The second year is devoted to completing comprehensive requirements and writing a thesis proposal. The generalist nature of the first two years gives students a broad background before they begin specialized research. The structure of the program is designed to ensure that candidates are able to defend in year five, not in year four. Many candidates also acquire valuable teaching experience while they are writing their theses, often having opportunities to take full responsibility for courses as teaching fellows.


To apply for Graduate Studies in Philosophy you can find the application form at: The deadline for both M.A. and Ph.D. applications is February 2nd. If you have questions or require more information on applying to graduate studies in Philosophy, you can e-mail us at

Link to graduate level courses.

Link to Handbook for Graduate Students in Philosophy.

Link to Poster for graduate programs in Philosophy.