Two students studying outside on the Peace Mall

Flourish in Philosophy

Central College’s philosophy major equips students to flourish in life.

Philosophy has never been more relevant. Central College philosophy majors learn to construct arguments and think logically. The program focuses on ethics and human flourishing, which involves opening the mind to thoughts on the ways in which everything fits into the bigger picture of a meaningful life. Central philosophy majors explore the core areas in philosophy and its history and also have the opportunity to learn and apply philosophical concepts to politics, medicine, the environment and more.

This focus, combined with the opportunity to develop critical reading and reasoning skills, prepares students for a variety of careers. Central philosophy majors become thoughtful, adaptable and productive citizens in an ever-changing world.

Philosophy graduates go on to careers in law, medicine, business, nonprofit work and more
Central College President Mark Putnam was a philosophy major

The Central Difference

Collaborative Research Opportunities

At Central College, students have access to a wide variety of research and professional development opportunities to prepare for the future, including unique access to collaborate directly with faculty. Recently completed research and honors projects include:

  • Quinn Deahl ’23, “Behind the Work of Art: Freeland and Nochlin’s Account of Gender in Understanding the Poetry of Audre Lorde”
  • Malcolm O’Bryan ’21, “The Obligations of Justice and Truth: An Analysis of Plato’s Crito”
  • Christian Warner ’20, “Aristotle or Nietzsche? The Question of the Rationality of Ethics”
  • Matthew Wells ’18, “The Tyranny of Sameness: Reopening the Strauss-Kojève Debate”

A Writer Expands Her Voice

Personal connections with faculty led Marin Harrington ’21 to multiple writing jobs on campus.


Central has one of the most beautiful college campuses one will find. A perfect mix of old and new, the college’s buildings reflect its history and its future. Central’s distinctive library is a spacious and popular haven with more than 230,000 volumes, computer stations, a multimedia collection and an extensive online catalog.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad to enhance their development as global citizens. Courses like Memory and the Holocaust offer travel opportunities as a means to experience other parts of the world and open minds to unique cultures in a shortened period of time.

Learn more about study abroad.

Beyond Central

Putting the “Hire” in Higher Education

Central College graduates have found success in applying philosophy to their diverse career paths.

  • Jon Alberts ’20, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones, Algonquin, Illinois
  • Carter Terpstra ’20, Entrepreneur and Owner, Next Step Moving Company, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Samuel Davis ’16, Creative Specialist, No Barriers USA, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Travis DeFrancisco ’16, Supervisor for Crisis Response Network, Mesa, Arizona
  • Andrea Montrone Levine ’09, HR & AmeriCorps Program Manager, SBP New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Psychotherapist, Mental Health Center, Washington, Iowa
  • Pastor, Silver Creek Community Church, Silver Creek, Minnesota
  • Urologist, Surgical Associates of Grinnell, Grinnell, Iowa
  • Assistant to the President, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
  • Software Engineer, Innovative Software Engineering, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Attorney-Injury, LaMarca & Landry, P.C., Des Moines, Iowa

Central Announces Changes Among Faculty

Central has announced changes among its faculty for the 2021-22 academic year.

Other Opportunities

  • Philosophy Club
  • Phi Sigma Tau (Philosophy Honor Society)


Philosophy students can pursue internship opportunities to prepare for future careers. Many Central graduates also completed terms of service with the Peace Corps and Teach for America.

Graduate Placement

Central philosophy students go on to graduate programs in many fields, like philosophy, law, political science, psychiatry and theology at a number of universities, including:

  • Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Baylor University, Waco, Texas
  • Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan
  • Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
  • The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Central College student

Courses & Faculty

Philosophy courses emphasize ethics and human flourishing from a historical perspective, while applying these concepts to events of the present day. Students can take any 100-level philosophy course as a gateway to the major.

Courses on the history of philosophy provide students with a historical foundation to build upon. Central’s professors teach what students want to learn. As a result, students can customize their philosophical education through a variety of elective courses to round out their requirements.

Learn more about this discipline in the course catalog.

Meet the Faculty

  • Anna Christensen, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy
  • Mark Thomas, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy
  • Lori Witt, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Associate Professor of History

Sample Coursework

First Year

  • Intro to Philosophy
  • Major Electives
  • Core Courses

Sophomore Year

  • Ethics
  • Logic
  • Major Electives
  • Core Courses

Junior Year

  • Classical Thought
  • Existentialism
  • Modern Thought
  • Major Elective
  • Core Courses

Senior Year

  • Philosophy of the Mind
  • Readings in Contemporary
  • Philosophy
  • Readings on Plato
  • Philosophy of the Science
  • Core Courses


Learn More

Want to find out more about Philosophy at Central? Contact us to learn more about this discipline and our other strong academic programs.

Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.

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