What can I do with a degree in philosophy?
Philosophy is one of the most versatile majors a student can choose. Because philosophy teaches individuals how to think, problem-solve, write, and communicate effectively, it provides skills that are useful in any field, including law, business, medicine, and technology.
Philosophy majors have the highest average score of any major on the LSATs, the verbal section of GREs, and the analytical writing section of GREs. They have the highest acceptance rate of any major to medical school – at almost 50%.
The study of philosophy develops a student's ability to think clearly and systematically, read news and information critically, distinguish between good and bad arguments, solve problems in original ways and seek the truth through the use of reason rather than emotion.
Writing and communication
Philosophy courses emphasize the importance of clarity in both oral and written communication, and they provide students with the resources to learn how to express their ideas in the most compelling and effective ways possible, logically, and persuasively. Philosophy majors score the highest of any major on the Analytical Writing Section of the GREs (Graduate School Admissions Test).
In addition, a philosophy degree offers:
- Intellectual skills (critical thinking: analysis, synthesis, problem-solving)
- Organizational skills (time management, initiative, self-motivation, working independently)
- Interpersonal skills (teamwork, leadership, flexibility/adaptability)
- Research skills (identifying, absorbing, and sifting complex information)
Careers in philosophy
Careers insights by degree
- Bachelor of Arts in philosophy
- Master of Arts in philosophy
- Ph.D. in Philosophy
- Graduate Certificate in Health Care Ethics
Still want more information about what degree is right for you? Visit our career insights explorer tool to learn more.
Employability and earning
According to Forbes' Selling Your Philosophy Degree, if you are majoring in philosophy, "the consensus among the people with their fingers on the pulse of the job market, and those who live the success stories, is that your future is bright." According to reports by the Wall Street Journal and Payscale.com, philosophy majors have the highest mid-career median salary of any humanities major and a higher mid-career median salary than business majors.
Philosophy provides transferrable skills that spell success in any career, and as a result, philosophy majors find work in a diverse range of fields. For example, in 2006, 12% of philosophy majors were employed in business and finance, and another 7% were employed in marketing and advertising (The Guardian: I Think, Therefore I Learn).
The value of a philosophy degree is becoming increasingly widely recognized, and a number of recent articles have explored the demand for, and success of, philosophy majors throughout the job market.
Read more about philosophy majors in the job market:
- Salon, "Be Employable, Study Philosophy"
- Denver Post, "More Seek Philosophy Degrees as a Basis for Kicking off Other Careers"
- Philadelphia Inquirer, "Study of Philosophy Makes Gains Despite Economy"
- Business Insider, "Successful Philosophy Majors"
Among many other advanced graduate programs, a philosophy degree also provides a solid foundation for graduate study in:
Philosophy and law
Philosophy majors score the second-highest of any major on the LSATs. The study of philosophy provides the ideal preparation for law school and the practice of law. The skills needed by law students and attorneys – careful analysis of texts, the ability to speak and write persuasively and effectively, sensitivity to vagueness and ambiguity, extraction of principles from cases, argument (often for propositions that one does not personally accept), criticism of arguments made by others, and the articulation of difficult concepts – are precisely those that are inculcated and refined in the study of philosophy.
The Philosophy department at Wayne State offers critical reasoning courses that are especially pertinent to law school preparation, such as critical thinking and introductory symbolic logic. We also offer a variety of courses relevant to legal theory, issues, and practice, including Foundations of Law, Philosophy of Law, Professional Ethics, and Contemporary Moral Issues.
Philosophy and medicine
Philosophy majors have the highest rate of acceptance to medical school of any major. The 50% acceptance rate of students who major in philosophy is notably higher even than that of biology majors (35%), chemistry majors (39%), or physics majors (42%).
The Wayne State Philosophy philosophy department offers a number of courses that intersect with topics and concerns in medicine and science, including ethical issues in health care, contemporary moral issues, introduction to philosophy of science, space, time and the philosophy of physics, and philosophy of science.
For more information, view a listing of our course descriptions.
Philosophy and business
Philosophy majors score the fourth highest of any major on the GMATs, which is higher than majors in business, economics, finance, marketing, or management.
Notable people with a philosophy major
- Thomas Jefferson (U.S. president)
- Pope John Paul II (Catholic saint)
- Stephen Breyer and David Souter (U.S. Supreme Court justices)
- Aung San Suu Kyi and Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace Prize winners)
- William Bennett (U.S. secretary of education)
- Noam Chomsky (professor, activist, author, and public intellectual)
- William "Bro" Adams (chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and former president of Bucknell University and Colby College)
- Rev. John I. Jenkins (president, University of Notre Dame)
- Carly Fiorina, Gerald Levin, Herbert Allison Jr., and Carl Icahn (former CEOs of Hewlett-Packard, Time-Warner, Fannie Mae, & TWA)
- George Soros (global investor and philanthropist)
- Pearl S. Buck - Nobel & Pulitzer Prizes, T.S. Eliot - Nobel Prize, Boris Pasternak - Nobel Prize, Alexander Solzhenitsyn - Nobel Prize, Umberto Eco, Susan Sontag, Ayn Rand (authors/poets)
- Stephen Colbert, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Steve Martin, Susan Sarandon, Wes Anderson, Ethan Coen, Deepa Mehta (actors/entertainers/filmmakers)