Jun 23, 2024  
2022-2023 General Catalog 
2022-2023 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Philosophy and Theology

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Learn more about the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Valpo online.

Professors Becker, Denysenko, L. Driver (chair), Holman, Pati, Preston; Associate Professor Geiman; Assistant Professors Abdelgawwad, Brobst-Renaud, Wong; Lecturer Jones.


Philosophy is the oldest academic discipline, and the one broadest in scope and application. Courses in philosophy examine the big, foundational questions that have animated great thinkers in both Western and non-Western civilizations, such as the following: What is the right way to live? How should society be structured? What is the relationship between human beings and the rest of the natural world? What is ultimately real, and what is its nature? How is knowledge about these, as well as more mundane matters, to be obtained?

The study of philosophy tends to develop and sharpen students’ analytical and critical thinking skills, not only in connection with topics traditionally deemed ‘philosophical,’ but in all areas. That’s why philosophy majors tend to outperform all other humanities majors, and in many cases even STEM majors, on tests such as the GRE, LSAT, and GMAT. Philosophical training has proven to be a ”secret weapon” for leaders in many other fields including business, law, government, the military, and ministry. Thus, philosophical coursework naturally accompanies and enhances study in virtually any other field. Philosophy can also help Christians and members of other faiths think critically about various issues relevant to their religious commitments.

Valparaiso University philosophy majors have gone on to top law schools and graduate programs in business, medicine, linguistics, and, of course, philosophy. But even for those students who do not plan to pursue graduate study, a degree in philosophy is a prudent choice. Because of their exceptional critical thinking and communication skills, the employment rate of recent philosophy graduates exceeds those of any other humanities majors, and is comparable with that of graduates in business management, computer science, education, and chemistry.

Approval of Schedules

All students taking a major or minor must have their schedules approved by the chair of the department at the beginning of each semester.


Courses numbered 300 and above are considered advanced courses and have, as prerequisite, any one course numbered under 300, or sophomore standing in Christ College, or consent of the instructor. Courses numbered 400 and above are designed for majors and minors.

General Education

Any course in philosophy except PHIL 145  will satisfy the Humanities: Philosophy General Education Requirement, but students will usually be best served by choosing a course at the 100 or 200 level. PHIL 145  will satisfy the Quantitative Analysis General Education Requirement. PHIL 330  and PHIL 341  satisfy the upper level Theology requirement. PHIL 120  and PHIL 220  may be used to fulfill the Cultural Diversity course requirement.


The Theology Department of Valparaiso University has as its main purpose the study, transmission, and interpretation of the Christian tradition as a part of and in relation to the wider religious heritage of humankind. It is the goal of the department to enable all graduates of Valparaiso University to be knowledgeable of the Christian faith, sensitive to religious issues in our global society, and prepared for roles in which their understanding of religion may enhance their contribution to church and society. Since this is a theology department within a university, our work is founded upon the liberal arts tradition of inquiry; competing ideas meet and are freely debated in the search for truth. The Theology Department plays an essential part in expressing and defining the University’s commitment to the Christian tradition, particularly to the Lutheran perspective. The department seeks to assist its students in becoming more aware of their own religious traditions, more critical and affirming in their appropriation of them, and more respectful of other traditions.

General Education

The Theology component of the General Education Requirement at Valparaiso University requires that students complete two courses: THEO 200  (or CC 215  for Christ College students) and any Theology course at the 300-level. THEO 200  is a prerequisite for all upper-level courses (except for transfer students and students who receive a waiver from the chair of the Theology Department). Students whose academic programs require only one course in Theology must take THEO 200 .


The department provides programs of study and advising for students who wish to prepare for professional careers in the Church:

  1. Programs of study in preparation for Diaconal Ministry are structured by the department in cooperation with the Lutheran Deaconess Association (see College of Arts and Sciences ).
  2. Students preparing for seminary should consult “Preparation for Seminary” on College of Arts and Sciences . Further information is available from the chair of the Department of Theology and on the department’s Web site: valpo.edu/theology.
  3. Students interested in service as directors of Christian Education, Youth Ministers, or in other ministries that may be held with a bachelor’s degree, should take the Theology and Ministry major.

Approval of Schedules

All students taking a major in Theology must have their schedules approved by the chair of the department or by their assigned departmental advisor at the beginning of each semester.

Theology and Ministry

The Theology and Ministry major is administered by the Department of Theology.


This bachelor-level major is designed for students seeking to serve in Lutheran or other Christian congregations as staff members with responsibility to children, youth, families, and persons of all ages. The major provides a broad range of foundational courses in theology, as well as practical learning experiences. Building on the University’s program of General Education and the resources of the Department of Theology, students, in consultation with their academic advisor in the Department of Theology, are able to customize a course of study. This major may also be used as a second major for students with other professional or career goals, but who wish an education that will enable them to serve in leadership positions within a local congregation or other organization on either a part-time or volunteer basis.

Symposium and Para-Curricular Activities

Students completing the Theology and Ministry major are also encouraged to participate in THEO 399 - Church Vocations Symposium  and other para-curricular activities arranged by the Center for Church Vocations (see valpo.edu/ccv).

Candidacy and Rostering

Information about rostering in various denominations is available on the Theology Department’s website: valpo.edu/theology.

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