Skip to main content

Boston College. Department of Philosophy



No classes in philosophy were offered at Boston College during its first years; either students terminated their course of study or transferred to a different college to obtain their degrees. However, by the academic year of 1876/77, it became possible for students to obtain a degree at Boston College.

Graduate courses in Philosophy in fullfillment of a Master of Arts degree were begun by Father Gasson and Father Fortier in 1912. Courses were designed for business and professional men already in possession of an undergraduate degree who desired to earn a graduate degree by attending evening lectures. The courses covered Professional Ethics, the Philosophy of Literature, Elementary Canon Law, and Pedagogy.

The Degree of Licentiate of Philosophy, requiring the completion of two years of graduate work, one of which was spent in residence, and an oral and written examination, was first offered in 1914 to two individuals who had already earned graduate degrees, and in 1915 to incoming graduate students. It was not until 1966 that the Philosophy Department officially started its doctoral program.

In the 1950's, all students, regardless of their major, were required to take the same 10-course, 28-credit philosophy sequence. In the spring of 1957 Father Casey, then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, announced various changes in the philosophy curriculum. For generations, juniors and seniors followed the 28-credit philosophy sequence; in 1957, the philosophy curriculum was altered to include freshmen. Thus, the required philosophy courses were distributed over four years of study instead of two. This allowed students gradually to assimilate themselves into the study of philosophy.

In 1963, the common core curriculum in philosophy was reduced; students were required to take only 4 courses in philosophy. In 1966, to conform with the Second Vatican Council, the Philosophy Department instituted further changes in curriculum which included the introduction of as many as 64 electives.

The Department of Philosophy has been linked to a number of initiatives, including the Lonergan Center (1986), the Dianoia Journal (2012), Gasson Lectures (1983), and the Institute of Medieval Philosophy and Theology (1991).

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

W. Seavey Joyce, SJ, President’s Office records

Abstract The W. Seavey Joyce, SJ, President’s Office records document Joyce’s tenure as twenty-third president of Boston College, 1968-1972. This collection consists largely of administrative records and contains building plans, committee records, correspondence, departmental records, development records, and faculty and subject files. Subject files contain personal materials, inaugural materials, and materials focusing on student and faculty relations with the administration. The collection also...
Restrictions on access

Collection is closed. Access with permission of office. Departmental records and faculty files containing student records, faculty tenure and promotion files, and other records containing personally identifiable information are closed due to privacy restrictions.

Dates: 1944 - 1974; Majority of material found within 1968 - 1972

Michael P. Walsh, SJ, President's Office records

Abstract The Michael P. Walsh, SJ, President’s Office Records document Walsh’s tenure as twenty-second president of Boston College, 1958-1968. This collection consists largely of administrative records and contains committee, departmental, and faculty files as well as admission records, building plans, correspondence, subject files, and materials relating to the University's centennial celebrations in 1963. Subject files contain biographical information in addition to other topics of interest to...
Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research. Series I. Admissions is closed in its entirety due to privacy restrictions, and is stored off-site. A small amount of material in other series is also closed due to privacy restrictions.

Dates: 1933 - 1982; Majority of material found within 1958 - 1968