What can you do with a philosophy degree?
As you think about the career opportunities a philosophy major provides, there are three things to consider:
- What professional or career skills will I gain from majoring in philosophy?
- Why/how are these skills valuable?
- What types of employment will be open to me?
major in philosophy provides the finest in a liberal arts education. A
liberal arts education helps you gain basic skills in critical thinking,
argumentation, communication, information management, design and
planning, research and investigation, and management and administration.
These skills are absolutely essential for success in virtually every
career path, especially in today's information age.
Why Are These Skills Valuable?First
- Critical Thinking Skills: the ability to identify the
key issues in decision-making or problem solving; to identify a general
principle that links together related problems, points, data; to define
the parameters of a problem.
- Argument Skills: the
ability to use argumentation techniques to persuade others; to reason
from premises to conclusions; to assess the implications of a position
which has been taken.
- Communication Skills: the
ability to summarize the content of a message clearly and objectively;
to differentiate fact from value; to express one's point of view without
violating others' rights; and to explain ideas and principles to
- Information Management: the ability to
sort data; to compile and rank information; to compile and evaluate
information; and to use this information to solve problems.
- Design and Planning Skills: the ability to look at a problem from different angles and identify alternative courses of action.
- Research and Investigation Skills:
the ability to seek out information; to identify problems and needs; to
systematically define a problem; to formulate questions relevant to
clarifying a particular problem, topic, or issue.
- Management and Administration Skills: the ability to analyze tasks and set priorities; to identify resource materials useful in the solution of a problem.
these are basic skills. 'Basic skills' are the reasoning, researching,
planning, and communication tools you need to successfully communicate,
problem-solve, and argue effectively. All employers are looking for
people who have these skills and you are more likely to be hired and
eventually advance in your career if you possess them.
Second, according to Lawrence R. Malnig and Anita
Malnig in their book, “What Can I Do With A Major In…?”: "Business
leaders most frequently cite the ability to learn in new situations and
the capacity to analyze, evaluate, and interpret data information
management as two of the most important qualities that successful
executives must possess" (Malnig, 147). All of the skills in the above
list provide you with the ability to learn in a new situation. In fact,
corporate executives of a number of large companies find that "students
of the humanities [including philosophy] tend to learn fast and advance
quickly." (Careers for Philosophers, American Philosophical Association
Third, all of these skills are often referred to as
transferable skills. They are not job-specific. You can take these
skills with you from one setting to another. This is critical, given the
latest prediction that in your professional/career lifetime, you can
expect to hold 10-12 jobs in three to five different fields.
Fourth, these skills prepare you to be a life-long
learner both professionally and personally, a value that has already
been mentioned. These skills also help you find personal satisfaction
while pursuing just about any area of interest such as reading, writing,
sports, gardening, music, chess, and politics, for example.
What Kinds of job opportunities exist for a philosophy major?
There are many areas of employment open to graduates with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. These areas include:
- Administration/Management- in such diverse areas as
personnel, financial aid, or public relations. Employment settings
might include college or university, prisons, hospitals, government
agencies (county, state or federal), and private companies
- Business- management, sales, consulting public relations, fund raising, systems analysis, advertising, and banking
congressional staff member, federal agencies and bureaus, state and
local governments, United Nations, foreign service, and cultural affairs
- Insurance- agent and broker
- Journalism- reporter and critic (books, dance, film)
- Publishing/Writing- sales, editing, management, freelance, technical writing for a company or government, and script writer
- Pre-professional Training-
A philosophy major also provides excellent undergraduate preparation
for law school, MBA programs, medical school, and seminary:
- On the
standardized tests for law school (LSAT), philosophy majors rank the
third highest in performance (mathematics majors are first and economics
majors are second). On the GMAT (standardized test for graduate level
business programs) philosophy majors rank the second highest (with
mathematics majors first).
Philosophy majors rank first on the standardized verbal tests for graduate school (GRE/verbal).
The Department highly recommends that you supplement your course work
with a Professional Practice/lnternship experience to enhance your job
skills. For more information contact the Philosophy Faculty Advisor.