Division of Humanities
Philosophy and Religious Studies
To inquire about this program:
Mark Conard, Ph.D. | 212-774-0704 | E-mail
Why Philosophy? Why Religious Studies?
Philosophy and the study of religion are at the core of the liberal arts. At Marymount Manhattan College, the two disciplines work together in a major that introduces students to the most profound questions human beings have asked—and to their most thoughtful and enduring answers.
Philosophy and Religious Studies majors:
The skills promoted by a major in Philosophy and Religious Studies are essential to understanding the world around us. They are also universally applicable in our own lives and in our chosen professions. Overall, they serve as the necessary tools for living the examined life, which, as Socrates told us, is the only life worth living.
- identify concerns at the heart of human experience, especially those pertaining to the fundamental nature of reality, knowledge, and values;
- understand the way great thinkers and religious communities have addressed these issues throughout history;
- and respond to these concerns themselves, building on a firm foundation of cultural literacy, analytic method, and critical intelligence.
What Can I Do with a Major in Philosophy and Religious Studies?
With the unique combination of skills they possess, majors in Philosophy and Religious Studies have gone on to success in many areas. In most professions, an advanced degree is the next step after the B.A. Studying Philosophy and Religious Studies is excellent preparation for advanced study in fields such as:
Education (secondary or higher education)
Religious leadership (seminary/divinity school)
Graduate schools are on the lookout for unique, well-rounded candidates, those with both a breadth of knowledge and the ability to analyze, interpret, and make judgments about detailed subject matter. The program in Philosophy and Religious Studies at MMC promotes exactly this profile.
Most employers are looking for similar kinds of skills. Possessing a specialized knowledge-base is not enough: whether a prospective employee has learned how to learn—whether he or she can see patterns, make arguments, absorb and then evaluate data, and so on—is just as important, if not more so. Many businesses and non-profit organizations also search for employees who keep the bigger picture in mind, who have cultural literacy and big ideas, but also some grounding in deeper values. Because of the unique preparation it bestows in these areas, the major in Philosophy and Religious Studies has an extra edge in a competitive job market.
But the best thing one can do with this major, regardless of one’s chosen career, is to live reflectively: to know more about the world, to ask the right questions (which are sometimes difficult), to examine these questions carefully, and to construct a solid response. Concentrating in Philosophy and Religious Studies, in short, marks not only the beginning of a profession; it also leads to a holistic and rewarding approach to life.
Majoring in Philosophy and Religious Studies
All Philosophy and Religious Studies majors take a set of Major core requirements (21 credits):
| PHIL 101||Introduction to Philosophy|
| PHIL 103||Introduction to Ethics|
| RS 120||Introduction to the Religions of Asia|
| PHIL 322||Philosophy of Religion|
| PHIL/RS 420||Philosophy and Religious Studies Seminar|
| One of the following: || PHIL 201 (Ancient Philosophy), PHIL 203 (Medieval Philosophy), or PHIL 293 (Modern Philosophy)|
| One of the following: ||RS 207 (Religion and Psychology), RS 318 (Religion and Literature), or RS 333 (Religion, Society, and Culture)|
Then majors concentrate in either discipline. (The program also offers minors in both Philosophy and Religious Studies.)
Concentrating in Philosophy
To concentrate in Philosophy, students must take the major core requirements outlined above, along with 15 more credits (five courses), at least 3 credits from the History of Philosophy group, and at least 6 credits in the Topics in Philosophy group. Three of the courses in the concentration must be at the 300/400 level.
Concentrating in Religious Studies
To concentrate in Religious Studies, students must take the major core requirements outlined above, along with 15 more credits (five courses), at least 3 credits in the Themes and Methods group, and at least 6 credits in the Area and Traditions group. Three of the courses in the concentration must be at the 300/400 level.
For further information on these concentrations, please see the Marymount catalog and the
Philosophy and Religious Studies Minisite
Examining, Questioning, Responding
“…I say again that daily to talk about virtue and those other things that you hear me examining in myself and others is the greatest good of humankind, and that the unexamined life is not worth living…” – Socrates
“When I consider the brief span of my life absorbed into the eternity which comes before and after…I take fright and am amazed to see myself here rather than there: there is no reason for me to be here rather than there, now rather than then. Who put me here?” – Pascal
“The Master said, “Ssu, I believe you look upon me as one whose aim is simply to learn and retain in mind as many things as possible.” He replied, “That is what I thought. Is it not so?” The Master said, “No; I have one thread upon which I string them all.” – Confucius
What Majors Say|
Philosophy is for the person who is not satisfied with easy answers…Although it is a difficult path, philosophy can be extremely life affirming because the reward is not monetary or fleeting; it is to live the best possible life that one can.”
“A Philosophy and Religious Studies major to me is practical in a liberal arts setting. This major is not about merely obtaining a degree. It is about taking initiative on what one envisions his or her life should encompass—internally and externally. Simply put, it is not about what we do, but who we are.”