Can I study Computer Science and Philosophy at the University of Chicago?

I’m interested in studying Philosophy in college. Originally I was planning on doing something related to Comp Sci or Physics, but I’ve lately read some C. A. R. Hoare and I’ve become interested with issues of “Correctness”. I really would love to do a dual degree that combines Philosophy and Computer Science. Does the University of Chicago offer this combination?

You are in luck! There are quite a few ways in which you could combine studying Philosophy and Computer Science at the University of Chicago. Let me run you through the main options in this post. I also encourage you to check out UChicago’s course catalog:

So the first option (and my recommendation, as a former Philosophy student) would be to go for the Philosophy Department’s ‘Philosophy & Allied Fields’ degree. Go for this option if you have a very precise idea of how you would like to combine the two areas of study. In particular, if you are interested investigating some concept or object in Computer Science in a rigorous, philosophical manner, than the Philosophy & Allied Fields option is for you. Keep in mind that you will have to apply for this degree via the Philosophy Department – you cannot automatically gain this degree. So you will have to produce a pretty fleshed-out proposal by the middle of your second year if you want to go down this tract.

The second option is to do a double-major in Philosophy and Computer Science. This will allow you to study both fields, but you won’t necessarily have to combine the two fields as directly as you had to in the previous option. For example, while in the Philosophy and Allied Fields major you would have to do interdisciplinary thesis, with the Phil/Comp Sci double major you could just do a Philosophy (or a Comp Sci) thesis that doesn’t necessarily relate to Computer Sciences (or Philosophy).

The third option is to go for the major-minor route. Both Computer Science and Philosophy can be taken as minors. Therefore you can combine the two fields by doing a Philosophy major-Comp Sci minor OR a Comp Sci major-Philosophy minor. This option is ideal if you are more interested in one field and would like to dedicate a large majority of your time with this one field. Keep in mind that you can always switch from a major to a minor (or a minor to major if you have enough spare credits left). In other words, switching from the double-major tract to a major-minor tract is an option.

The final option is to go for a major in the New Collegiate Division, which will allow you the freedom to design your own thesis (e.g. Fundamentals or Big Problems). With this freedom you can combine any two traditional fields of study together (in your case, Phil and Comp Sci). Be careful though, majors that allow you to design your own thesis, require you to work very independently. You will have to be very disciplined and make sure you stay on top of your work, as you will have very few formal requirements to meet.