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Philosophy is worth studying because, as Socrates is credited with saying, the unexamined life is not worth living. By challenging you to analyze concepts clearly and evaluate evidence and arguments critically, philosophy hones your analytical reasoning skills, stimulates your intellectual creativity, and enriches your understanding of yourself, others, and the world. It makes your life more intellectually interesting and rewarding.
Clear, rigorous, critical thinking is both a personal and a professional asset. Philosophy will help you acquire it. Employers in a wide variety of fields need employees who have this skill. Graduate schools are also well-aware that philosophy students are better prepared than students in many other areas for the advanced intellectual work demanded by their programs.
That philosophy pays is clearly displayed by how well the mid-career salaries of philosophy majors compare to those of other majors. In one recent study philosophy majors were doing better at mid-career than business majors! Read the full Majors That Pay You Back article on the PayScale website.
After graduation you will be well prepared to look for employment in diverse fields, and to move into different fields as your career develops. Possibilities include, but are not limited to, to following:
The philosophy major excels in equipping you for a career that requires additional graduate or professional education. It provides an excellent foundation for many professions including, but not limited to:
A philosophy major provides you with some of the most important skills for success in law school, including critical reading ability, logical problem analysis, and effective research writing.
Studying philosophy has also been correlated with higher scores on the standardized exam required of students applying to law school (LSAT). In fact, philosophy majors consistently rank higher on this exam than other majors, and in one recent study philosophy majors tied economics majors for the highest LSAT scores. Honing your analytical skills is truly essential for doing well both on the LSAT and for your future career in law. And that's what philosophy is all about.
A philosophy major is also an excellent stepping-stone to a career in business. Studying philosophy teaches abstract and logical thinking as well as creative and rational problem solving—skills crucial to success in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.
Philosophy majors also typically outscore nearly all other undergraduates on the standardized exam (GMAT) required for admission into business school. In fact, in one recent study, the mean score of philosophy majors on the GMAT was higher than all other majors except mathematics, physics, and engineering.
You can earn a B.A. in philosophy and complete the pre-med program of study at the same time. You simply take the pre-med courses as your electives. With careful planning and the proper preparation, you can do this in four years.
Combining these two programs of study may also improve your career options. Philosophy majors study the challenging ethical questions that all physicians are required to address. They develop the interpersonal and communication skills increasingly being sought by medical schools.
Philosophy majors also receive strong training in logic and critical thinking, which prepares them to excel on the standardized test (MCAT) required for entrance into medical school. In fact, data indicates (PDF) that humanities majors outperform many science majors on this test.
Secondary School Teaching
The philosophy major is an excellent foundation on which to build a career in secondary school education. Many private and religiously affiliated schools are looking for qualified teachers with training in philosophy. Public schools may also offer courses in critical thinking.
In addition to these options, a philosophy major may also lead to secondary school teaching in a number of related areas, including history, social studies, and political science. For additional information on the qualifications and training necessary to pursue a teaching career, you could consult the College of Education and Human Services.
College and University Teaching
Philosophy majors also have a long track record of performing exceptionally well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), a requirement for pursuing graduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines.
Teaching philosophy at the college and university level requires graduate education, a master's degree at a minimum and most commonly a doctoral degree (Ph. D.). Applying for graduate school requires careful planning and preparation. If you are interested in pursuing graduate work in philosophy or another field, you should consult with your faculty advisor. You should discuss with your advisor a variety of issues:
View the philosophy program profile for sample occupations, average salary, and employment projections.
Philosophy majors are encouraged to enhance their programs of study by pursuing opportunities for experiential learning, such as the following:
We aim to provide you with a well-rounded education in philosophy. We offer courses that concentrate on particular historical periods; courses that focus on philosophical subjects (e.g., ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion); courses that examine particular philosophers or philosophies (e.g., existentialism); and, of course, courses in critical thinking and formal logic.
View Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy program information and requirements in the Academic Catalog.