“Philosophy? What are you going to with that?” The correct response is
“Absolutely anything you want.”
Kotick, Vice-President, J.P. Morgan
The study of philosophy develops skills in thinking clearly,
analytically, and creatively, along with the ability to exchange and
communicate ideas. These skills are essential to managing your life
well and are in great demand in almost any profession. Employers can
train someone in the specifics of a job, but not in how to think. They
hire people who already have the skills to think carefully, analyze
problems, and devise creative solutions. This is what the study of
philosophy provides you with and why you can do “anything you want” with
a major in philosophy.
the skills one develops by majoring in philosophy are highly marketable and
transferable, the study of philosophy pays off later in life. Here’s some
(1) Philosophy majors are
high on the pay scale compared to majors in many other fields. A 2008
study of undergraduate college degrees by salary showed that
after 15.5 years of being awarded an undergraduate degree,
yearly salary of philosophy majors was $81,200, ranked 16th
of fifty fields and higher than all other disciplines in the social
sciences and humanities.
According to another study of 15
liberal arts majors, students graduating with a B.A. in philosophy
have the highest median income 20 years after graduation. The study
tracked student incomes at intervals of less than 1 year, 1-4 years, 5-9
years, 10-15 years, and 20 or more years after their graduation. In the
category of less than one year after graduation, only criminal justice
majors had a higher median income. After 1-4 years, only history and
political science majors had a higher median income. For the rest of
intervals tracked, 5 years to more than 20 years after graduating,
philosophy major grads had the highest median income. The median income
for those graduating with degrees in philosophy 20 or more years after
graduation was approximately $91,000. (The source for these figures was
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
Philosophy majors perform exceptionally well on the Law School
Admissions Test, The Graduate Management Admission Test, and the
Graduate Record Examination. In fact, we’re number one.
According to the Educational Testing Service covering a three year
period ending June 30, 2006, philosophy majors ranked first among
fifty fields in both Verbal and Analytical Writing Sections and
fourteenth in the Quantitative Reasoning Section on the GRE. If one
compares the averages of the three rankings in the fifty fields,
philosophy majors come out on top. Thus, a degree in Philosophy
should be helpful in gaining admission to graduate schools and pursuing
various professional careers.
While the philosophy major provides you with skills
crucial to success in almost any field, here is a list of some of the professions in
which philosophers and philosophy majors are gainfully employed:
advertising executive; assistant manager of a hotel; assistant to the president of a national firm; brewer; development manager; manager of a
winery; manpower services coordinator.
Computers and Technology:
computer systems analyst; consultant; owner of a computer firm; programmer;
in business, education, and publishing.
(non-teaching fields): admissions officer; alumni relations officer;
archivist; college president; dean; educational testing administrator;
humanities bibliographer; librarian; residence hall director; provost;
vice-chancellor for academic affairs.
bank officer (various departments); commodities broker; financial advisor;
investment broker; tax accountant.
(federal): armed forces officer; CIA staff member; congressional
staff member; diplomat; immigration service staff member; intelligence
officer; intern in the Department of Defense; policy analyst; policy and
planning consultant; United Nations official; U.S. Postal Service staff
Government (state and local):
director, human services agency; county commissioner; county supervisor.
Law: attorney; bond lawyer; coordinator of a
criminal justice program; director of communications at a state bar
association; legal researcher; police officer; legal aid society employee;
paralegal assistant; security officer.
free-lance writer; executive editor of a magazine; TV producer.
director of a provincial medical association; hospital administrator; nurse;
nursing administrator; physician; veterinary oncologist.
director of a university press; editor; employees of university and
business, educational, governmental, and scientific.
details, please go to:
Links on the Value of Studying Philosophy
“In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined”
Article by Winnie Hu in the New York Times (2008)
“I Think, Therefore I Earn”
Article by Jessica Shepherd in The Guardian (2007):
“Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life and Work”
Article by Carol Cooper in NY Times (1997)
“How Does Philosophy Relate to My Career?”
Business professionals reflect on the value of studying philosophy
“What Can You Do with a Philosophy Degree?
Philosophy website at Illinois State University:
“Philosophy Is a Quintessentially Modern Discipline”
London Times article on the value of Philosophy:
“Why Study Philosophy and Ethics?” (Google video)
Major in Philosophy
Think Clearly, Critically, and Creatively
Truth, Beauty and Wisdom