Mission and Objectives

Fordham University, the Jesuit University of New York, is committed to the discovery of Wisdom and the transmission of Learning, through research and through undergraduate, graduate and professional education of the highest quality. Guided by its Catholic and Jesuit traditions, Fordham fosters the intellectual, moral and religious development of its students and prepares them for leadership in a global society.  (Fordham University Mission Statement)

In support of that commitment, the Faculty and Schools of Arts and Sciences of Fordham University foster the cultivation of knowledge, wisdom, and a deeper understanding of the human condition and prepare students for teaching and leadership in a global society, by welcoming learners from diverse religious, economic, and cultural backgrounds into full participation in the scholarly endeavor.

The Philosophy Department contributes to the Mission of the University and implements its commitment through its special role in the development of the mature individual by challenging students to reflect on the most fundamental questions that concern human beings and the ultimate dimensions of their world. In acquainting students with the intellectual and moral traditions of their civilization, philosophy sustains this commitment by developing the skills necessary for them to think clearly and carefully for themselves — to question their assumptions and to judge their principles critically with the depth required for them to act as mature, integrated, free persons in their society and to provide it with enlightened, responsible leadership and service.

The following identifies the goals and objectives for the PhD program, the MA program, the MA in Philosophical Resources program, the BA major program, and the undergraduate minor program.

Philosophy PhD

The goal of our PhD program is to form scholars and teachers grounded in the history of philosophy and in contemporary philosophical movements and issues. This twofold goal is pursued by giving our PhD students a solid and comprehensive background in the history of philosophy, by exposing them to a variety of contemporary approaches, by training them to write professional papers and a dissertation that will advance their field of studies, and by mentoring them in their activity as teachers.

In accordance with our twofold commitment to scholarship and teaching, we encourage our students to apply for internal and external awards both for scholarship (such as the Research and Alumni Fellowships, Fulbright, Canadian SSHRC, Humboldt, and Chateaubriand fellowships) and for teaching (such as Fordham Senior Teaching Fellowships), as well as to be admitted to competitive workshops and teaching seminars organized by the university (such as the Jesuit Pedagogy Seminar). Specifically concerning research, our students are encouraged to present their work at conferences and to publish it in journals, in a way compatible with the development of their research agenda targeted at the writing of their dissertation.

Upon completion of the PhD program, students will have developed habits of mind that:

  • Reflect an understanding of the broad outlines of the history of philosophy and enable historical research in philosophy
  • Reflect an understanding of contemporary philosophical issues and debates
  • Exhibit well-honed critical thinking about philosophical texts, ideas, approaches, and methods
  • Manifest an understanding of formal logic and logical analysis
  • Enable one to communicate orally one’s understanding and interpretation of philosophical texts and issues
  • Enable one to produce publishable philosophical work
  • Enable one to teach philosophy effectively

Philosophy MA

The goal of our MA program is to make our students familiar with the main philosophical issues and approaches, both from a historical and a contemporary perspective. This goal is pursued by having our students take a variety of courses in different periods and areas. The MA program allows for two tracks: a track for students focused exclusively on Master’s level study, and a track for those focused on preparation for doctoral studies in philosophy that develops their philosophical writing skills at a more advanced level.

Upon completion of the MA program, students will have developed habits of mind that:

  • Reflect an understanding of the broad outlines of the history of philosophy and enable historical research in philosophy
  • Reflect an understanding of contemporary philosophical issues and debates
  • Exhibit well-honed critical thinking about philosophical texts, ideas, approaches, and methods
  • Enable one to communicate orally one’s understanding and interpretation of philosophical texts and issues

The Master of Arts in Philosophical Resources (MAPR)

The MAPR program in philosophy is designed primarily for Jesuit scholastics, although it is open to others who seek to enhance their philosophical knowledge but do not satisfy the stand-alone MA program’s entrance requirement of 24 undergraduate credits in philosophy.

For the MAPR program, our goals are similar to those of the BA program (promoting habits of philosophical reflection and moral criticism), but the expectation is that they will be attained at a higher level. The overall learning objective is the acquisition of the ability to engage in a sustained philosophical conversation that reflects both knowledge of major thinkers in the history of philosophy and a personal consideration of certain major issues.

Upon completion of the MAPR program, students will be able to:

  • Analyze and evaluate primary texts in philosophy
  • Identify, evaluate, and formulate philosophical arguments
  • Exhibit familiarity with major texts, themes and authors in the history of philosophy
  • Engage in philosophical conversations and recognize philosophical ideas in those conversations
  • Personally consider the philosophical ideas studied in the program leading to a balanced, comprehensive, integrated and coherent synthesis of them

Philosophy Major

Our primary goals for undergraduate education with respect to the Major (BA) in Philosophy are to promote the habit of philosophical reflection and the capacity for moral criticism. We aim at fostering a vibrant intellectual exchange among faculty and students.

We take our work to be clearly aligned with Fordham University’s mission: “As a four-year Jesuit liberal arts college, [Fordham] invites and challenges its students to develop their intellectual, volitional and aesthetic faculties by completing a carefully integrated yet flexible liberal arts curriculum that balances core requirements with concentration in a particular field of study. This curriculum is designed to: develop the faculty of clear and critical thinking and of correct and forceful expression; and impart a knowledge of scientific principles and skills, an awareness of historical perspective, an understanding of the contemporary world and an intelligent appreciation of religious, philosophical and moral values” (Undergraduate Bulletin, 2014–2016).

Upon completion of the BA program, students will:

  • Be aware of the main outlines of the history of philosophy
  • Be aware of the major fields in philosophy and the central questions proper to each
  • Be grounded in contemporary philosophical movements and issues
  • Exercise critical thinking skills and, in particular, the skills appropriate to critical reflection on philosophical questions
  • Understand the nature of moral reasoning
  • Understand the major normative alternatives in ethics
  • Be able to engage in more intensive and specialized research

Philosophy Minor

Our emphasis for undergraduate education with respect to the minor in Philosophy is on continuing the conversation begun in the Department’s two core courses, PHIL 1000 Human Nature and PHIL 3000 Philosophical Ethics. Students may build from that shared base in a wide variety of ways, making the minor a valuable addition to virtually any major.

Upon completion of the minor in philosophy, students will be able to continue to promote the habit of philosophical reflection and the capacity for moral criticism as begun in the core courses.