Why study philosophy?

Many students are interested in studying philosophy but are worried about the practical benefits or marketability of a philosophy degree. Here are some facts to consider when thinking about the value of a philosophy degree.

(Note: There is a video at the bottom of this page that expands on all of these points.)

1. There is very strong market demand for the thinking and communication skills you learn in a philosophy program.

Critical thinking and communication skills are in high demand in the workforce. When employers and business leaders are asked to identify the skills that they wish more students had when graduating from university, critical thinking and oral and written communication skills are at the top of the list.

The study of philosophy places equal importance on analytical reasoning skills and effective communication skills. Logic and argumentation are central tools of philosophical thinking and are taught in specialized courses within philosophy departments. Students are required to pay close attention to subtleties of language and meaning, and to express often complex ideas clearly and effectively.

This unique combination of analytic reasoning and language skills is reflected in the fact that philosophy majors, on average, perform better than any other major on professional and graduate school admission tests that are required for admission to law school, medical school, business administration programs, and graduate school.

2. The earning potential of a philosophy degree is higher than you think.

When comparing mid-career salaries of graduates who only have an undergraduate degree, philosophy majors earn more than majors in biology, chemistry, geography, anthropology, and psychology. They earn more than journalism, marketing, and accounting majors. They even earn more than architecture majors.

This may be surprising, but recall what employers are looking for. Critical thinking, communication and analytic problem-solving skills are very much in demand, and philosophy graduates are better than average in these areas. Philosophy graduates are also good at high-level reasoning involving general principles, and this whole set of skills becomes more important, and less common, as you move up the administrative ranks in an organization. These basic thinking and communication skills confer an increasing competitive advantage as you move up the job ladder.

3. The study of philosophy is intrinsically interesting and rewarding.

When you study philosophy you’ll learn about the most influential views on the deepest questions that matter to us: views about the ultimate nature of reality, the nature and origins of knowledge, the relationship of the mind to the brain, the foundations of ethics and morality, the role of the state in political life, and much more. These are important questions, and for many people their study is intrinsically rewarding.

Philosophy majors have the privilege of studying with like-minded students and learning from experts who have devoted their professional lives to these questions. It is a unique educational opportunity that can transform how students view themselves and the world around them.

4. A double major with philosophy is a powerful combination.

If you’re still worried about the practical benefits of majoring in philosophy, you should consider the advantages of a double major. When you combine the fundamental thinking and communication skills you develop in a philosophy degree, with the disciplinary specialization you receive from a second degree in the arts, sciences, business, law, or other vocational program, the result is a powerful combination that leverages the strengths of both degrees and distinguishes you from graduates with just one of these degrees.

These and other points are discussed in the video below, titled "5 Reasons to Major in Philosophy".