Is Philosophy a Good Major? [2021 Guide]

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Is philosophy a good major? It was actually Socrates who said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Is Philosophy a Good Major

Studying philosophy can offer the opportunity to probe universal questions about truth, reality, and the meaning of existence.

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A bachelors in philosophy can also help you develop necessary professional skill sets, such as skills in communication and critical thinking.

Is Philosophy a Good Major?

good philosophy major

Yes, philosophy is a good major for many undergraduate students. A philosophy major can help equip you with rigorous analytical thinking, critical thinking, and written communication skills. This versatile skill set is applicable in various positions and industries.

A background in philosophy can also help you excel in many contemporary careers. Some philosophy graduates go on to attend law school or earn their graduate degree. Some professionals in the field become lawyers or postsecondary teachers.

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Other graduates pursue careers as writers or journalists. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) or math degree can also complement a bachelor degree in philosophy.

Philosophy Major Curriculum

Philosophy Major Curriculum

Course offerings can vary by school and program. After doing some research, you might find programs offering unique approaches to the major. Here’s a sampling of traditional philosophy courses:

  • Introduction to Western Philosophy
  • Ancient Philosophy
  • Eastern Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Philosophy and Religion
  • Philosophy and Law
  • Contemporary Philosophy

In a philosophy program, you may discuss enduring universal questions and immerse yourself in the thoughts and writings of historical thinkers.

5 Things You Can Do with a Philosophy Degree

Philosophy Degree careers

Earning a philosophy degree can lead to a number of career path opportunities. The professional skill set you can develop with a philosophy major is applicable to a number of entry-level jobs.

In addition, choosing a degree concentration or earning a graduate degree in a complementary field can allow you to branch out into specialized fields. For example, lawyers and counselors require specialized training, but they can benefit from a foundation in philosophy.

1. Postsecondary Teacher

Those who follow this career path continue to learn more about philosophy and might need to specialize academically.

Postsecondary Philosophy Teacher

Many postsecondary teachers engage in ongoing research and publishing for professional advancement while also teaching introductory or advanced courses. People in these careers typically spend many hours doing academic reading, research, and writing.

2. Survey Researcher

Many businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies collect data for all types of organizational planning, goal setting, or policy and project development reasons.

Skills you develop as a philosophy major might align well with survey research work. For example, written communication skills and the ability to apply sound reasoning and analysis can be beneficial in this position.

3. Writer

philosophy degree writer

The critical thinking and organization skills you can acquire with a philosophy major may help you write more effectively. A philosopher’s aptitude for deep and thorough thought and analysis can help as well.

First and foremost, writers are often thinkers. They use their thinking skills to develop the ideas they’ll write about. Writers can develop and publish original content, or they might help others write clear policies, articles, reports, or grant proposals.

4. Lawyer

A bachelors in philosophy might be worth considering if you want study law later. Philosophy majors typically develop logical thinking, inference, and causal and rhetorical argumentation skills. These types of skills could be a beneficial foundation for someone who wants to become an effective lawyer.

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In both law and philosophy, truth is often something constructed by logical and rhetorical argumentation. Likewise, both lawyers and philosophers may be concerned with questions of ethics and justice.

5. Counselor

Philosophers spend a lot of time in the world of the mind and psyche. They may ponder metaphysical and epistemological questions related to what’s real, religious faith and the divine, and ethical distinctions.

The kind of mindfulness that counselors and psychologists help patients probe could have a lot in common with questions probed in philosophy programs. Philosophy majors may go on to earn specialized training in counseling or psychology.

Philosophy Careers

Philosophy Careers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the skills and aptitudes you can develop as a philosophy major can apply to other professional skills and interests.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Lawyers $126,930
Political Scientists $125,350
Sociologists $86,110
Psychologists $82,180
Postsecondary Philosophy and Religion Teachers $76,160
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Writers and Authors $67,120
Survey Researchers $59,870
Paralegals and Legal Assistants $52,920
Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts $49,300

The careers above are examples of how you could apply your training from a philosophy degree program. A number of careers also require additional education or licensure. For some people, other career paths may make more sense, based on their aptitudes and professional goals and interests.

Should I Major in Philosophy?

Major in Philosophy

If you want a college education that gives you some time for thinking deeply and probing big ideas, then you might want to consider majoring in philosophy.

A philosophy degree may be a good fit for people who want to:

  • Explore enduring questions
  • Develop rigorous critical thinking skills
  • Develop versatile, professional skill sets
  • Have time for creative thinking

A major in philosophy can help you develop a wide range of soft skills. Even though philosophy does not point toward a well-defined career path, it can be a beneficial foundation for a variety of positions.

Is Philosophy a Hard Major?

Is Philosophy a Hard Major

Philosophy probes questions deeply, and these questions don’t necessarily have known answers. So, those who enjoy working with facts or with more concrete propositions or equations might find philosophy more difficult or frustrating.

Most philosophical thinking takes the form of rigorous critical thinking laid out in well-constructed written arguments. Philosophy majors think about how to use language to reflect rigorous thinking and how to organize ideas and arguments very logically.

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Since most philosophers write in this rigorous way, reading philosophical essays, treatises, and books can be challenging for some. The study of formal logic might also be difficult for some more than others.

What Can You Do with a Philosophy Degree?

Philosophy Degree career

Most philosophers pursue a career in academia, research, or writing. Since a philosophy degree can help you develop a range of versatile skills sets, you can also think about which careers these skills can apply to.

For instance, you can consider which positions require proficiency in conceptual and analytic thinking, complex or speculative argumentation, or written communication. With these skills, graduates may pursue careers as writers, editors, publishers, or journalists.

With additional training, they may also pursue positions in law and criminal justice, political science research, or public policy analysis. So, there are many things you can do with a philosophy degree.

Is Philosophy a Useless Major?

Is Philosophy a Useless Major

Is it useless, or isn’t it? This might be a good example of a philosophical question. There aren’t many employers out there hiring “philosophers,” but a philosophy major can help you develop skill sets that are applicable to a wide range of positions and industries.

For example, a philosophy major who develops their writing and communication skills may pursue work as a technical writer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 7% job growth for this position over the next ten years. Meanwhile, media and communication occupations in general are expected to grow 4%.

Some philosophy majors who go on to earn a doctorate may qualify to teach as a philosophy professor at a college. Postsecondary philosophy and religion teachers are expected to experience 7% job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

What Jobs Can You Get with a Philosophy Degree?

jobs with Philosophy Degree

Some philosophy graduates pursue careers as writers or go on to earn a graduate degree in philosophy. Professionals who hold a doctorate often teach philosophy at the college level.

That said, a philosophy degree can also help you build a foundation of versatile skills, including critical thinking, rigorous argumentation, and analytic communication. This skill set can be applicable and beneficial to a range of work opportunities.

For example, if you continue your studies to pursue work as a lawyer, survey researcher, or counselor, you might find that you can readily apply the skills you’ve developed as a philosophy major.

How Much Do Philosophy Majors Make?

Philosophy Majors salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for philosophy and religion majors is around $54,000 per year.

Typically, a philosophy major helps you develop valuable liberal arts skills that can help you become a valued professional in many career roles. It is difficult to assign a salary range to a major that has intrinsic value but no specific career outcome.

For instance, some philosophy majors go on to get graduate degrees and become postsecondary philosophy and religion teachers. The median annual salary for this position is $76,160. People who work as lawyers make a median of $126,930, and the median salary for writers and authors is $67,120 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Is a Philosophy Degree Worth It?

Is a Philosophy Degree Worth It

Yes, a philosophy degree is worth it for many students. Some students are simply interested in the opportunity to engage with other philosophical thinkers and writings.

A philosophy program can allow you to probe foundational and essential questions about existence, knowledge, self-knowledge, ethics, justice, and more. Earning a bachelors in philosophy can also help you build a solid foundation of professional skills, including communication, critical thinking, writing, argumentation, and research.

Some who study philosophy may go on to study law, and others may pursue survey or policy research, analysis, and communications work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 4% job growth for media and communication occupations.

Getting Your Degree in Philosophy Online

Degree in Philosophy Online

Socrates thought that all nations should have leaders trained in philosophy. For some people, studying philosophy in college is a way for them to dive into truth-seeking, self-examination, and ethical exploration.

For others, a philosophy major is a way to enhance their communication skills as well as their ability to think critically and analytically.

If you’re interested in pursuing a philosophy major, there are many online philosophy degree options out there to choose from. You can start exploring accredited universities today to find the program that best fits your needs.

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Keith Nickolaus
WRITTEN BY
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and Master's in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a Bachelor's in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in innovation, policy, and education leadership.