Department of Philosophy

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy is a practice of thinking critically and imaginatively about core questions concerning our existence. Philosophy aims to clarify the nature of knowledge, truth, and beauty. It asks about freedom, ethics, and justice. It reflects on the importance of language, consciousness, and reason. Contrary to what we might think at first, these issues are not abstract. They are the most concrete and practical, since they ultimately concern what is most important to us. Philosophical study helps us learn how to ask the right questions so as to better understand our fundamental values, beliefs, and practices.

What can a Philosophy degree do for you?

It can help you think more clearly, write better, and stand out from the crowd. Philosophy majors learn how to analyze complex problems and conceptualize unique solutions. This often involves reassessing our basic assumptions and altering our habitual approaches. Philosophy majors also learn to communicate effectively, zeroing in what is essential and bypassing what is not. A philosophy major will help you develop as an articulate and insightful person.

Why is Philosophy a good career major?

Philosophy majors have strong earning potential, the skills necessary to succeed in a variety of jobs, and the highest test scores for graduate school entrance exams.

  1. Philosophy majors are good earners. The Wall Street Journal reports that at the midpoint of their careers, people who major in Philosophy rank among the highest earners in any major field of study (http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-Degrees_that_Pay_you_Back-sort.html). Another recent study shows that Philosophy majors earn more than students majoring in Business, Nursing, Communications, Education, and Criminal Justice (http://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report-2013/majors-that-pay-you-back).
  2. Philosophy teaches the ability to think for yourself and respond decisively to intellectually challenging problems, and these skills translate well in any career. Put this in context. The world is changing. Few people go on to careers directly related to their major any more, so adaptability and strong critical thinking foundations are often more essential than specific skill sets. Plus, specifically career-oriented majors are often poor paths to success. See this CBS News article on the perils of a Business major: (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-37244200/8-reasons-not-to-get-a-business-degree/).
  3. Professional careers may require professional studies, but professional studies are often best supported by other primary courses of study. In that case, you should study what you like the most and/or what prepares you best to deal with the broadest range of possibilities. Philosophy has a strong track record of preparing students for further study in other fields, as evidenced by GRE and LSAT scores. On these graduate school entrance exams, Philosophy majors score higher than every other major (except Physics). Philosophy majors are the highest scorers on the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections of the GRE. Take a look at these links and compare these achievements to students from other popular majors: http://philosophy.tamucc.edu/program/lsat-scores, http://pleasandexcuses.com/2012/09/06/philosophy-major/