Why Study Philosophy

Thinking about graduate school or law school? These charts show: Philosophy Majors Outperform Nearly All Others on Graduate Test Scores.

Carol Marie Cropper in The New York Times, Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life And in Work​:

  • "Of all the gifts that his philosophy degree has given him, said Dr. Bruner, the Nebraska graduate, creativity is probably the most important. Those who majored in science, then headed straight for medical school and years of practice can have a narrow outlook, he said. 'They don't have enough raw data outside their scientific training to provide those insights, those flashes of creativity,'' he said.

Bouree Lam in The Atlantic, The Earning Power of Philosophy Majors:

  • "We hear again and again that employers value creative problem solving and the ability to deal with ambiguity in their new hires, and I can't think of another major that would better prepare you with those skills than the study of philosophy. It's not terribly surprising to see those graduates doing well in the labor market. We've seen quite a few executives—CEOs, VPs of Strategy—who studied philosophy as their undergrad program,” says Lydia Frank, the senior editorial director at PayScale.​

George Anders in Forbes, That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket​:

  • "Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says Butterfield. “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."

Winnie Hu in The New York TimesIn a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined:

  • "David E. Schrader... said that in an era in which people change careers frequently, philosophy makes sense. 'It’s a major that helps them become quick learners and gives them strong skills in writing, analysis and critical thinking.'"

Carolyn Gregoire in The Huffington PostThe Unexpected Way Philosophy Majors Are Changing The World Of Business:

  • "Philosophy and entrepreneurship are a surprisingly good fit. Some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs and innovators come from a philosophy background and put the critical thinking skills they developed to good use launching new digital services to fill needs in various domains of society. Atlantic contributor Edward Tenner even went so far as to call philosophy the 'most practical major.'"

Shannon Rupp in SalonBe employable, study philosophy:

  • "I tell people the most useful classes I took were all in philosophy. Yes, the course of study that has long been denigrated as frivolous and useless in the job market has been the part of my education that I lean on again and again. For work and everything else.... But a smattering of undergrad philosophy classes taught me something applicable to any and every job: clarity of thought. Name me one aspect of your life that doesn’t benefit from being able to think something through clearly."

Marnie Eisenstadt in the Syracuse Post-Standard, Graduating with a philosophy degree? There's more than Starbucks in your future:

  • "An analysis of average salaries by degree shows that by mid-career, graduates with degrees in philosophy can make a solid living: $84,000 after a decade in the workforce. They aren't making that kind of money pondering the afterlife or morality. It's their background in critical thinking and creative problem solving that's paying off and leading to jobs in the business world."

Rebecca Goldstein in The AtlanticWhy Study Philosophy:

  • "I would say that it’s always a good thing to know, no matter what you go on to study—to be able to think critically. To challenge your own point of view. Also, you need to be a citizen in this world. You need to know your responsibilities. You’re going to have many moral choices every day of your life. And it enriches your inner life. You have lots of frameworks to apply to problems, and so many ways to interpret things. It makes life so much more interesting. It’s us at our most human. And it helps us increase our humanity. No matter what you do, that’s an asset."

Matthew Beard in The ConversationLove, wisdom and wonder: three reasons to celebrate philosophy:

  • "Philosophy matters, simply, because the answers to philosophical questions matter. Not only is it a matter of life and death, but a matter of, to name a few examples, the nature of law, the role of language, where morality comes from, whether there is a God, whether there is a self and what constitutes our identity, and what beauty is. What makes these questions important is not only that they help societies to function (although they certainly do), but that they reflect something deeply fundamental about human beings: that we are physical creatures, but our consciousness is not restricted to physical matters. Indeed, philosophy is both reflective and perfective of human nature."


Want a more detailed explanation of philosophy?
Check out the American Philosophical Association's Brief Guide for Undergraduates.