Philosophy majors enjoy one of the most enriching academic disciplines, a course of education that centers on critical analysis of literature, rhetorical exploration of ideas, debate over fundamental theories on morality, and much more.
Philosophy is the study of knowledge, values, existence, reality, thought, and more. Majoring in philosophy can also open you up to a world of professional opportunities. The critical thinking, communication, and research skills you’ll gain in this versatile major will all be valuable in a wide range of workplace settings from education and activism to public service and corporate governance.
If you’re ready to earn your degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Philosophy.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as a Philosophy Major.
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.
Philosophy is a discipline which requires deep thinking. You’ll be absorbing texts and ideas from a wide range of historical periods, world cultures, and ethical dispositions. It isn’t your job to accept everything you read at face value. Philosophy promotes questioning, challenging, and conceptual problem-solving. Majoring in philosophy arms you with the tools to better understand and navigate challenges in your work, life, and personal relationships.
Philosophy is naturally interdisciplinary in nature. 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, and analyze policy impacts.
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 sieze opportunities with creativity, critical thinking, and a strong grounding in ethics.
The discourse over morality, human existence, and reality remains extremely fertile. Indeed, the impact of real-world conditions such as globalization, environmental degradation, and the permeation of technology in modern life continue to generate deep exploration and intense debate. 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.
Find out who the Most Influential People are in Philosophy today!
There is no minimum academic threshold for putting your philosophy skills to use in a professional setting. However, this is a field dominated by academics. This means that some of the most highly regarded and influential figures in philosophy will have earned an advanced degree. The degree level you pursue may depend largely on whether you plan to become a philosopher (or postsecondary philosophy instructor), or whether you plan to apply the skills gained in your philosophy program to pursue a role in another sector.
*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.
Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college degree programs and concentrations (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, which places philosophy under the umbrella of philosophy and religious studies, the following are among the most popular philosophy concentrations:
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as a philosophy major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as Introduction to Philosophy and World Religions. And because philosophy is not necessarily a career-oriented field, you may choose a set of complementary courses in a subject area like education, business administration, or counseling. Philosophy also gives you the chance to choose from an array of courses that interest you on a personal level.
Common Philosophy courses include:
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:
Curious how far you could go with a major in philosophy? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!***
Now that you know how to major in philosophy, check out The Most Influential Schools in Philosophy and get started on your path to a philosophy degree.
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