The program curriculum is interdisciplinary, with a foundation in moral and political philosophy and international relations. Each student will complete a minimum of 30 credit hours, including a six-credit “capstone course” to presumably be completed during the summer term following a full academic year of coursework.

Over a 12-24 month program of study (designed to facilitate the enrollment of military personnel on educational assignment and the academic student looking for an intensive program), students will study foundational topics in moral and political philosophy, together with advanced core and elective topics in military and professional ethics, military medical ethics, military law, ethical leadership, and other related subjects (including optional supplemental electives in areas such as religious studies, history, literature, journalism, political science, classics, and the arts).

  • PHIL 405: Ethics: This course will build on an existing background in ethical theory and its application. Students will become familiar with major schools of thought and contemporary scholars.
  • PHIL 417: War and Morality: The aim of this course is to explore a wide range of ethical issues relating to the decision to take a nation to war, how wars are conducted, and efforts to establish order in the wake of a conflict. This course is presented in a seminar format with lively discussions centering on contemporary readings in military ethics from texts and journals.
  • PHIL 419: Philosophy of State Violence: The modern state inflicts forms of violence against its own citizens through the criminal justice system and wields violence against foreign citizens and states through immigration enforcement, war, colonization, and actions such as targeted killings. But what is the moral basis of the state's authority to wield such forms of violence? What could justify a state in imprisoning and even killing its own citizens (as the US does via the death penalty), and inflicting the violence of war on other states? This course will examine historical and contemporary philosophical accounts of the basis of the state's right to use force and explore arguments defending and critiquing the use of state violence in the areas of criminal justice, war, colonization, and immigration enforcement, from a diverse range of perspectives. 
  • PHIL 436: Military Conflicts, the Military Profession, and International Law: The aim of this course is to provide a foundational understanding of international law as it relates to war and to explore the relationship between international law and war ethics. This hybrid course will feature video lectures by international experts in the field of military ethics and online assignments, as well as discussion sections led by the Visiting Inamori Scholar.

When students begin the program, the program director will work with each student to develop initial concepts for their individual concentrations of study and capstones. The capstone/culminating project required involves both academic research and fieldwork, and is integrated with the degree-candidate’s professional experience or interest. PHIL 501: Ethics Capstone will feature a summative project designed to integrate their common studies, but tailored to their individual future interests in teaching, further graduate study, or employment in public policy or foreign affairs, and may produce outcomes other than a traditional paper/thesis (such as the detailed and well defended design of a military ethics training/education curriculum).

The outline of the project must be presented and defended by the spring recess of the candidate’s second resident semester, and the project itself completed over the following summer term, for graduation in August the year following matriculation. If special circumstances prevent a student from completing the program in the intended time frame, the academic advisor will work with them to create an alternative schedule to allow completion of the degree at a pace aligned with the student’s schedule.

Students will take a minimum of four elective courses. The selection of topic for the capstone project will dictate the selection of relevant elective courses by each student (in consultation with program faculty) to create an appropriate concentration of study. Electives may be in military and professional ethics, military medical ethics, military law, ethical leadership, or in optional supplemental areas such as religious studies, history, literature, journalism, and the arts.

Elective courses for Fall 24 from the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Law include:

  • PHIL 428 Moral & Social Responsibility
  • PHIL 434 Political and Social Philosophy
  • PHIL 437 Philosophy of Evil
  • PHIL 466 Brain, Mind, and Consciousness: The Science and Philosophy of Mind
  • POSC 454 Political and Social Philosophy
  • POSC 464 Dictatorship and Democracy in Modern Latin America 
  • POSC 486  Making Public Policy
  • POSC 490 Special Topics in International Relations 
  • LAWS 4101 International Law
  • LAWS 4328  Moral & Social Responsibility
  • LAWS 5113 National Security Law 2: Counterterrorism
  • LAWS 5118 International Law Research Lab
  • LAWS 5121 International Criminal Law Procedure

Additional elective courses will continue to be added. Elective courses for Spring 25 will be updated.