Applied Philosophy Major

Applied Philosophy allows you to explore fundamental philosophical questions by analyzing and addressing current issues our society faces in a way that also emphasizes the core skills that employers repeatedly say they are seeking – the ability to think critically, the ability to write clearly, concisely, and persuasively, and the ability to read deeply.


  • A deep misconception about philosophy is that it is abstract and removed from the issues we currently face. Nothing could be further from the truth; philosophy has a lot to contribute to helping us better understand our world and lead good lives.
  • Simpson College is proud to be the first and only college or university in Iowa to offer a major in Applied Philosophy.  The major has been offered since 2006 and is explicitly focused on the ways that philosophy is applicable to contemporary issues.
  • Simpson’s unique applied philosophy major allows students to explore how philosophy continues to shape and reshape our world. Both degrees in philosophy and applied philosophy aim to develop skills such as the ability to think critically and logically and the ability to develop innovative ways to understand and address controversial issues.

Examples of questions/issues you would explore.

  • What constitutes an ethical and just health care system?
  • Is globalization ethical?
  • What are the limits of scientific inquiry and practice?
  • What is the nature of technology?  What is the effect of technology on human existence?
  • What is oppression?  How does oppression shape the nature of ethics, knowledge, and reality?
  • How are classic philosophical questions still present in modern practices?

Applied Philosophy Major:

In order to graduate with an Applied Philosophy major, students will complete nine courses plus the capstone.  Please see Dr. Allison B. Wolf or Dr. John Pauley for advising about when it would be best for you to take these courses and how you can best fit them into your plans.  The basic requirements are as follows:

Course Requirements:

Choose one of the following:
  • Phil 102 Introduction to Philosophy
  • Phil 109 Critical Thinking
Choose one of the following:
  • Phil 121 Ancient/Medieval Philosophy
  • Phil 122 Modern Philosophy
  • Phil 211 Feminist Ethics
  • Phil 220 Political Philosophy
  • Phil 250 Applied Ethics
  • Phil 335 Philosophy of Technology
  • Phil 345 Philosophy of Science
Choose two Philosophy Electives as follows:
  • One Ethics course
  • One Philosophy elective course one at the 300 level
  • Phil 385 Senior Seminar

Still not sure which path to choose? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more.

Allison Wolf- Bringing Interest To The Philosophy Field

Assistant Professor of Philosophy Allison Wolf is combating a common misconception about her field: the belief that philosophy has no application in today’s world.