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. Study Ancient, Modern, and post-19th Century thinkers as they investigate key questions in Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, and Political Philosophy. Our courses offer a range of perspectives, from broad investigations of perennial topics to problem-based inquiries.

Top 5 Reasons to study Philosophy:

  1. Philosophy puts you in dialogue with society’s brightest minds, from the ancients to more cutting-edge contemporary thinkers.
  2. Philosophy is a gateway to professional degrees — Law, Medicine, Public Policy, and more. 
  3. Students gain analytical skills, and can better understand presuppositions behind arguments.
  4. Philosophy will teach you to challenge your own worldview.
  5. We offer exchange opportunities to more than 100 schools in over 30 countries.

“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.”
                                                                                                                                -Christine Esselmont, PhD

Watson Hall
Room number: 
Department Head: 
Christine Sypnowich
Departmental Assistant: 
Susanne Cliff-Jungling
Graduate Chair: 
Rahul Kumar
Graduate Assistant: 
Susanne Cliff-Jungling
Undergraduate Chair: 
Paul Fairfield
Undergraduate Assistant: 
Sheena Wilkinson
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) - BAH

Specializaton in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPEC)

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.

Joint Honours 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.

Internship option available

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

Graduate Degree Options

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


Alumni Career Statistics

  • 5% of alumni work in LAW
  • 6% of alumni work in WRITING & PUBLISHING
  • 9% of alumni work in GOVERNMENT & NON PROFIT
  • 44% of alumni work in EDUCATION

A degree in Philosophy can take your career in many directions. Many students choose to continue their academic inquiry with a Master’s. Our students are equipped with a strong foundation for careers in:

  • Academia
  • Advertising
  • Applied ethics
  • Archives
  • Bioethics
  • Consulting
  • Counselling
  • Cultural affairs
  • Ethics
  • Foreign service
  • Fundraising
  • Human rights
  • Information technology
  • International development
  • Law
  • Marketing
  • Media and communications
  • Medical ethics
  • Medicine
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Politics and government
  • Public and private research
  • Public policy
  • Teaching
  • Training, recruitment, and development

Taking time to explore career options, build experience and network can help you have a smooth transition to the world of work after graduation.


“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


PHIL 204: Life, Death, and Meaning
An examination of whether life has ‘meaning’, and a consideration of different philosophical interpretations of the meaning of life, the significance of death for the meaning of life, and whether it even makes sense to speak of life as having meaning

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.



Students apply to Queen’s Arts (QA) through the OUAC (Ontario Universities' Application Centre) website ( ENG4U, plus five additional 4U/M courses. Applicants outside of Ontario may have additional requirements. Visit for additional information regarding requirements and admission to Queen's.

Philosophy (BAH)
OUAC Code:
QA (Kingston Campus)
QB (Concurrent Education, Kingston Campus)
QIA (The Castle)
QIB (Concurrent Education, The Castle)

See Full Admission Requirements

After first year, in May, students will declare their area of study (major, minor, specialization, e.g.). The thresholds are competitive year to year and do change. The 2017-18 thresholds for Philosophy are: 0.7 Cumulative GPA with minimum pass grade in PHIL 1## for PENDING LIST or 0.7 Cumulative GPA with minimum B- in PHIL 1## for AUTOMATIC ACCEPTANCE.  Thresholds for PPEC Specialization are: 1.9 Cumulative GPA with minimum B- in PHIL 1## for PENDING LIST; There are no AUTOMATIC ACCEPTANCES for PPEC.

Information on Plan Selection


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. 


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 visit: 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