Why Major In Philosophy?
While philosophy’s encouragement to sapere aude—“dare to think”—will appeal to all students, many wonder: Is a philosophy degree practical? What do philosophy majors do other than become philosophy professors? Here are some answers that may surprise you.
- Philosophy is the “ultimate transferable work skill”
- You learn to analyze and solve problems
- You learn to think and write clearly
- You learn how to persuade others
- You learn how to research
- Philosophy majors do excellently on graduate exams.
- Philosophy rules the GRE: Thinking about grad school? Add up the three sections and Philosophy majors have the highest overall score on the GRE.
- Philosophy rocks the GMAT: How about business school? Philosophy majors outperform majors in Economics, Statistics, Finance, Accounting, etc.
- Philosophy owns the LSAT: Need that J.D.? Philosophy majors do better than Political Science, Pre-Law, and anything starting with “Business”.
- Philosophy gets you into Med School: Philosophers enjoy the best chance of admission to medical school of any major.
- A philosophy major makes an ideal component of a double major.
The critical thinking skills you develop by studying philosophy help you in any other field of study, and that is why the philosophy major works so well as part of a double major degree program. Philosophy pushes you to examine the fundamental beliefs of every area of knowledge. Because of this, for every subject you can study in a university, there is a ‘Philosophy of’ that subject: Philosophy of Psychology, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Art, etc. Even if your primary interest is psychology, biology or literature, you will gain much greater insight into your field if you can think clearly about the deeper aspects of it. No companion major can equip you for that better than philosophy.
- Philosophy majors do very well financially in non-academic fields.
Philosophers have better employability and upper average salaries compared to many other majors. Graduates with a B.A. in the humanities do earn lower starting salaries than some other majors; however, over the course of a career philosophy graduates do quite well in the earnings department. PayScale.com’s data on “Best Undergrad College Degrees By Salary” 2014-2015 lists 129 majors for beginning and mid-career salary. Philosophy majors earn an average starting salary of $42,200 and $85,000 by mid-career. Philosophy majors outearn all other humanities degrees in salary and even outearn Marketing & Communications, Business Management, Political Science, Microbiology, and Accounting majors!
Even Forbes is celebrating the inroads that philosophy majors are making into seemingly unrelated fields like the Tech Industry:
“Stewart Butterfield [is] Slack’s 42-year-old cofounder and CEO, whose estimated double-digit stake in the company could be worth $300 million or more. He’s the proud holder of an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Canada’s University of Victoria and a master’s degree from Cambridge in philosophy and the history of science.
“Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says Butterfield, sitting in his office in San Francisco’s South of Market district, a neighborhood almost entirely dedicated to the cult of coding. “I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings. And when I studied the history of science, I learned about the ways that everyone believes something is true–like the old notion of some kind of ether in the air propagating gravitational forces–until they realized that it wasn’t true.””
- Philosophy majors include a host of amazing people.
Want to have the same major as Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and David Souter? Film directors Terrence Malik, Wes Anderson, Ethan Cohen, and Wes Craven? Writers David Foster Wallace, E.L. Doctorow, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn? Cartoonist and The Simpsons Creator Matt Groening? Civil Rights Activists Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis? Business giants Peter Theil, Carly Fiorna, and George Soros? Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi? They all majored in philosophy.
You can see a list of famous philosophy majors here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17753117/Famous%20Philosophers%20Poster.pdf