Why study Philosophy at MC?

A liberal arts education is about learning to be free. Philosophy, (which literally means the "love of wisdom") lies at the heart of a liberal arts education because it asks students to pursue truth wherever it may lead. As a philosophy major, you will tackle the “big issues”: about what’s real and what isn’t; about what and who you are and your place in the world; about how we should live with one another and what makes life worthwhile. To tackle those issues well, you will learn skills that will serve you well in your college career, in the working world and all your life. Studying philosophy teaches you, for instance, to pay careful attention to others, to analyze ideas and test arguments, to see problems in their complexity and appreciate a range of solutions. You will also learn to make up your own mind thoughtfully, and to communicate your ideas with clarity and precision.

That helps explain why philosophy majors do so well in a remarkable variety of career paths, including law, politics, film, business, education, ministry, medicine and writing.

Maryville College Works is a comprehensive career preparation program that is integrated into the College’s four-year liberal arts curriculum. Key components include assessment, advising, networking and professional experiences.

On Campus Opportunities

The Philosophy Club provides students with the opportunity to openly discuss philosophical ideas and take philosophy out of the classroom and into the world. In an informal gathering of  friends, open to anyone who has an interest in philosophy, the Philosophy Club hosts regular discussions on a wide range of topics.

Meet a current student

Photo of Jonathan BatesJonathan Bates ’20
Hometown: Livingston, Tenn.

When he was in the 7th grade, Jonathan expressed an interest in learning about the “web of things,” to which his sister asked, “Like philosophy?” With that introduction, he continued to explore questions and concepts that related to
knowledge, reality and existence. Deciding in high school that he wanted to become a college professor, he was advised to consider Maryville College.
“When I looked at Maryville’s philosophy major, I realized the questions being asked and the classes being offered were a new take on a traditional course structure,” he said. “At MC, they do not teach you how to think, but rather they teach you how expansively you can think.” Jonathan is the president of MC’s Philosophy Club and the founder and president of the Lifelong Learners Club.

Outcomes of Recent Gradsclick or touch to open

Featured Graduate

Jason CatherJason Cather ’05
Currently: Adjunct Professor, Saint Xavier University Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

It was in Dr. Bill Meyer’s Modern Critiques of Religion class at Maryville College that Jason first encountered – and was intrigued by – the ontological argument. The argument, which relies on reason alone to prove the existence of God, eventually would become central to his studies and 2017 doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
“When I got to the University of Chicago, the faculty expected us to read complex philosophical texts, come to class and be able to discuss them,” he said. “That’s exactly what I had been asked to do at Maryville College. After I turned in my first assignment I knew [studying philosophy] was exactly what I wanted to be doing, and I was ready for it.”


Ellison BerryhillEllison Berryhill ’12
Currently: Assistant Public Defender with 18th Judicial District in Gallatin, Tenn.

Accepted to Duke University School of Law in 2012, Ellison served as editor-in-chief of the Duke Forum for Law and Social Change. He returned to East Tennessee during the summers to work with the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and the District Attorney General’s offices of Knox and Blount counties. He worked on appellate cases for one year as an Assistant Attorney General with the Tennessee Attorney General and Reporter. Ellison earned his J.D.  from Duke in May 2015 and clerked for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for one year. “Every bit of success that I have had following my time at Maryville College has been due to the learning and growing I experienced there,” he said. “The preparation I got in the Philosophy Department really helped me for the logical analysis necessary for the LSAT and law school.”

Graduate School Placements

Cornell University
Duke University
Fordham University
Georgetown University Law School
Northwestern University
University of Chicago Divinity School
Vanderbilt University Law School
Washington University Law School