Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Philosophy Degrees

The best philosophy liberal arts colleges are those with rich histories of influence, proven through the work produced by the program’s faculty and alumni. Beyond demonstrating scholarly impact in the field, the best philosophy degree programs maximize your opportunities to interact with outstanding philosophy faculty.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Philosophy Degrees

Frequently Asked Questions About Philosophy Bachelor’s Degrees

Earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy can open numerous professionals doors. As a philosophy major, you’ll spend a great deal of your time poring over compelling historical texts, exploring complex ideas, and engaging discourse over subjects like ethics, religion, and politics. This education will provide you with valuable skills of debate, communication, and persuasion. Moreover, areas of consideration such as morality, behavior, and the human condition have historically factored into the way we understand entities such as national governments, religious organizations, and communities. Philosophy majors must build a strong background in these dimensions of human life in order to contextualize much of the literature they’ll be required to read. As such, philosophy majors are uniquely positioned to understand history, participate in the political process, analyze policy impacts, and even to serve in public office.

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Philosophy is a great major because it is interdisciplinary in nature. This means you’ll gain various practical skills. The skills of communication, research, and critical analysis that you’ll develop as a philosophy major are highly transferable to a wide range of workplace settings. Increasingly, progressive companies in the tech, marketing, and retail industries have recruited professionals with a background in philosophy to help attack challenges and seize opportunities with creativity, critical thinking, and a strong grounding in ethics.

This makes the work of today’s leading thinkers extremely consequential. Today, top influencers in philosophy are breaking new ground in feminist theory, the philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, and much more.

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Once you’ve declared your major in philosophy, you will likely be required to complete a set of core courses in a number of humanities-related subject areas. While your concentration will give you a chance to choose from a wide range of highly-specialized philosophy electives, there are several common courses that most philosophy majors will be required to take, including:

  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Critical Thinking
  • Philosophy and Globalization
  • Topics in Feminist Ethics
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • General Ethics
  • Biomedical Ethics
  • Philosophy of Knowledge
  • Environmental Philosophy

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Philosophy is not an inherently career-oriented major, insofar as this degree may not necessarily lead you down a specific career path. Instead, majoring in philosophy will arm you with an array of 21st Century workplace skills that are applicable in a wide range of fields from education, marketing and government to healthcare, information security, and corporate ethics. This means that your philosophy major can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:

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Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Philosophy Degree Programs

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.
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Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.
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Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

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If you think a research university may be a better fit for you, see our ranking of the best research universities for a bachelor’s in philosophy.

How do we determine the best philosophy liberal arts colleges?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Influence”.

The influence of a college or university is based on the schools’ top academic influencers related to the discipline in this ranking. We track the influence of faculty and alumni affialiate with these school counting not only the publicaitons and citations of the school’s affiliated people, but we also consider the overall web presense of the faculty and alumni. The greater the citations, authority of web links, web searches, and pageviews, the greater the individuals’ influence. Those combined make up the departments’ influence in the field of study. We believe tracking the academic influence of the people affiliated with a school is the best indicator of academic excellence.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and misuesed performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is more insulated from manipulation, and more reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Philosophy Degrees

  1. #1

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Wesleyan University known for?

    Wesleyan University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Wesleyan University Philosophy Major Tracks:

    • General Philosophy
    • Social Justice
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Swarthmore College known for?

    Swarthmore College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Education

    Swarthmore College Philosophy Major:

    • BA in Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Wellesley College known for?

    Wellesley College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Wellesley College Philosophy Major:

    • Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Amherst College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is Amherst College known for?

    Amherst College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    Amherst College Philosophy Major:

    • Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  5. #6

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    What is Pomona College known for?

    Pomona College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Physics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    Pomona College Philosophy Majors:

    • Philosophy
    • Philosophy, Politics & Economics
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  6. #7

    Barnard College

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

    What is Barnard College known for?

    Barnard College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Sociology

    Barnard College Philosophy Major:

    • Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  7. #9

    Reed College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1422/32

    What is Reed College known for?

    Reed College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Reed College Philosophy Major:

    • BA in philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  8. #10

    Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

    What is Claremont McKenna College known for?

    Claremont McKenna College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    CMC Philosophy Major:

    • Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  9. #12

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Haverford College known for?

    Haverford College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology

    Haverford College Philosophy Major:

    • Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  10. #13

    Middlebury College

    Middlebury , VT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    22%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/33

    What is Middlebury College known for?

    Middlebury College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

    Middlebury College Philosophy Major:

    • Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  11. #14

    Davidson College

    Davidson , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1397/31

    What is Davidson College known for?

    Davidson College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Physics

    Davidson College Philosophy Major:

    • Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  12. #15

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Vassar College known for?

    Vassar College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Physics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Vassar College Philosophy Major:

    • Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  13. #18

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1380/31

    What is Oberlin College known for?

    Oberlin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Oberlin College Philosophy Major:

    • Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  14. #22

    University of Richmond

    University of Richmond , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    31%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1375/31

    What is University of Richmond known for?

    University of Richmond’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Richmond Philosophy Majors:

    • Philosophy
    • Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  15. #23

    Grinnell College

    Grinnell , IA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    19%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

    What is Grinnell College known for?

    Grinnell College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • History
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Grinnell College Philosophy Major:

    • Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO

Go to all Liberal Arts Colleges for Philosophy programs

The Best Philosophy Schools in Your State

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