Philosophy As A College Major???????

I am going to be a sophomore at college next year. I have yet to pick my major but I fell in love with philosophy during my freshman year and it is the only thing that I want to study in school. But problem is the job oppurtunities that a philosophy degree offers. I hear most philosophy majors go into law. Which is something I don’t want to be…a lawyer.

so who here majored in philosophy and what do you do now, and would you suggest majoring in philosophy in today’s corporate age?


I live in England so the system at university here is different. However I think my advice relates to your decision. In september i will start studying maths and philosophy. Both of these subjects are non-vocational and to be honest there’s no job that really requires these skills apart from maths and philosophy teaching. However, as a general degree it serves its purpose as an indicator of an intelligent thinker. A good standing in philosophy will show employers your ability to think, question, challenge etc.

Secondly, what’s the point of doing a subject you do not enjoy? Ok, so you might not get the best job but then perhaps it would have been one that you didn’t enjoy anyway. My advice is, do what you love and not what you think you should do. That is the way I chose my course and I’ve not looked back. Live for the moment, carpe diem.

good luck in your choice

  • ben

I’m no expert, but I could see a degree in philosophy as a huge asset in any career you choose. As Ben said, it shows you as a highly intellectual individual, as it’s probably not a very easy feat to acomlish (I know I probably couldn’t get it). That in itself would make an employer with any sense look twice.
I could see it adding credibility to a writer/author’s profession. In the cases of a writer/author, a publisher would probably take your work more seriously with a philisophy major under your belt, and thus more readilly publish your books. This is also valid in the case of journalists.
I’ve also heard it said that a philosophy degree has given many kinds of doctors the cutting edge in trying to advance their careers. The fact that I heard this from a doctor with a philosophy degree might add credibilty to my statement lol
The above is all speculation on my part, so I took the liberty of researching the subject matter for you, I hope I found some usefull information:
On the google search: “career choices” crossreferenced with “philosophy major” I found a site that may interest you.
UF The Philosophy Major’s Career Handbook

There were about 650 other sites, but quickly skimming through them, I found this one to be the most informative. Hope I helped, and good luck.

I’d say be a teacher. To me that’s what philosophers do. That’s what I’m planning on doing. I’m going to be a sophomore too and my ambition is to be a philosophy professor.

You could also be a writer but I think that you would have to come up with something absolutely bloody brilliant to be successful.

But I’m guessing. And that’s my two bits.

i think that anyone who goes to a liberal arts college to get a job is in the wrong place. there are technical colleges that specialise in that sort of thing, with an emphasis on learning skills for the workforce.

i never liked those types of colleges.

if you’re going to get a bachelor of arts, then getting one and placing on the honour roll (because you are doing something you love) is more impressive to employers than just passing with a degree in business (for example).

also, it’s important to remember that it’s work experience and extracurricular involvement that really impress employers. don’t slack off in the summer; hunt down those internships in prestigious companies, or do research for profs. the pay sucks but the doors will open in the future.

a word of advise if you want to major in philosophy; make sure you are clear as to what it is specifically that you like. there are many branches and liking one or two may not be enough for you to enjoy all the rest.
one more thing, i’m doing a philosophy major and i think that it is incredibly discouraging at times and also demanding. if you are even having the slightest doubts about it now, doing it full time will probably frustrate you. when you make a decision, make sure you stand by it 100%.

I’m majoring in philosophy because I like it. Well I really so far mostly enjoy the existential stuff.

What kind of job could I expect to get out of college? For instance, if someone here has a philosophy degree, what kind of job are you in now?

I too am a philosophy major but I do not have a degree yet. I like almost all types of philosophy.

Bill asked:

Even if you have any degree whatsoever, you will be able to get a good job. I have found that many companies are willing to give you a chance even if you have no experience, as long as you are a hard worker and are quick to show that. For instance, I have been:

These are in no particular order

  1. a newspaper boy
  2. warehouse worker
  3. carpenter
  4. administrative assistant
  5. assistant manager
  6. data entry specialist
  7. security guard
    8 ) private investigator
  8. lifeguard
  9. salesman
  10. busboy
  11. CSR (Customer Service Representative)

If you’ve ever wanted to be any of these, just imagine what you could be with a degree (it doesn’t matter in what - which is exactly why you should do what you love and not what your parents tell you to go into, and not to go into what you think will get you the most money).

What’s your take?

Well I never wanted to be any of those jobs, they don’t look high paying at all. I want something in where I get inleast 50k a year.

I was trying to make you feel better, to show you the kind of jobs I have been doing part-time or through-out the summer and to indicate to you that it doesn’t matter what kind of a degree you have, as long as you are doing what you love, the right job will come along. Obviously this didn’t work, since you came back with a remark about the amount that the jobs paid. If money is all that is important to you, then I feel sorry for you, and can only strongly urge you to reconsider your choices for going into the program of your choice related to money. Although you have a pragmatic goal, everyone I have known that finished university for the money, is unhappy. Furthermore, you are quite correct about the list of jobs not paying $50,000 a year or more - though I never said that they did. But one actually did except I didn’t stay at it for a whole year because of school, as a Private Investigator I was making about $20 per/hr. Which is one of the highest wages in the PI field.

The job titles may not sound like much, but I have gotten in far places in some of the jobs I have had only because I took keen interest in what I was doing, and was rewarded for it. I have a tendency to be a ‘Jack of all Trades’ in the occupations I do, which is very rewarding and advantageous to my level of experience and intelligence. Once again, the point here is if a person can do things well before they actually settle down with a career after having finished schooling, then you have already succeeded half way. Here are some reasons, you have gained experience with some common themes of a work place environment. You will become familiar with paying procedures, laws, practices - you will have learned interpersonal skills - you will have gone through many interviews, application procedures, training seminars - you will have learned teamwork…but once again, this has to be because you want to. Just as you have to go into school studying something YOU want to, and not studying something that society or your parents MAKE YOU want to.

What’s your take?

I’ve also gained invaluable life experience doing many of the jobs that Magius has mentioned through my time at uni, it’s amazing how differently the world looks when you’re the guy answering the phones surrounded by people who collectively could probably scrape together one gcse. So many people at my uni have no idea what the real world is like, no idea how to deal with Joe Bloggs or just how thick he can be sometimes. Not that they all are, or that being thick means you can’t be a great person.

A philosophy degree will get you a job in any non-specific vocation. Journalism, banking, accountancy, management, advertising, marketing, you name it, a philosophy degree is good enough to get you into it. It’s just one of those transferable degrees, but has the added bonus of you being able to say you’ve learnt how to look critically at others arguments and analyse the relevancy of points to a far higher level than most normal degrees, as well as the degree usually opening your mind a bit more.

Thing is, Philosophy isn’t a degree that give you a definite direction, as I’m finding out much to my distress now, I have no idea where to start on deciding my career, but I do know that the degree I just got will serve me well in whatever field I choose. The only door that will be closed to you will be degree specific vocations such as being a lab analyst or architect or something like that.

Obviously if you have a vague plan on what you want to do, you should start picking up activities which will show you have a commitment to the field, if you are interested into moving into broadcasting, join the uni radio station, journalism, the paper, politics, you really should hold at least one position of vague importance within the union or its affiliates, (for example I do have a vague plan of moving in to it at some point and was a Hall president, a fairly important position with the union). That kind of thing is very hard to make up for later down the line, though the door won’t be completely closed you may have to do some voluntary work or at least take a more junior position. And if you want to get into serious money you should check out what academic requirements you’ll need, I know that in England the better financial graduate jobs are closed to anyone who hasn’t got a 1st or a high 2:1 (with good extra-curricular activities, often something like having been involved in the union). I’m not interested in that kind of thing, and not especially good at sticking to deadlines (I lost 100% as late penalties on at least 3 essays, whoops) so I chilled more, focused on other stuff, while enjoying the degree. As Magius said, it’s what’s your ambition, do what you’ll enjoy!

But I do warn you, not all philosophy is interesting to everyone! Some of it’s a right pain in the arse to read (I still shiver whenever I hear the name Kant :wink:), but I truely have developed a passion for it while I studied it.

Why would you want to have a good career? Is that what your life all is about? I would hate myself for that. For me, studying at a university is not preparing for some particular job, but studying on some theme/problems. I don’t want to spoil my life ‘managing my career’.

It’s up to you, what you want to do with your life, so if the thing you love the most is money, go and get it. But then I would advise you to study something else than philosophy… It might raise some doubts about that ideal. :wink:

Why? So you can enjoy your work maybe? Hmm, I could get annoyed at those comments, but I won’t bother. If you want to do something interesting and challenging generally you won’t find that kind of job just falls into your lap, you got to work at it a bit, make some sacrifices.

What you’re talking about is sheer laziness and apathy, just trundling along doing nothing but gaining short term pleasures for long term losses.

And there is nothing wrong with wanting good money to enjoy a good life, philosophy doesn’t teach you to not be a materialist, nor is there any life style that is “being a philosopher”.

I am also in a similiar situation, however there are other practical issues. I am a philosophy major at a UC, i just transfered into the university. My education is being funded by the government, because of my status as a veteran. My Veterans counselor has informed me that i will have to switch majors to something more practical, something that will lead to employment at graduation. They have went as far as to threaten removing all funding if i do not switch, or justify my philosophy degree with employment information.

So here i am, utterly in love with my pursuits knowledge and understanding, yet the “man” demands i sell out my desires for practicalities. Should i switch to a different major? I have yet to come up with a solid explanation of how my pursuit of a philosophy degree will lead to employment upon graduation.

last note, i have already tried explaining how i could obtain employment in any field with a philosophy degree, the answer back was, then you could take any degree, and we(veterans counselors) are more comfortable with a practical degree.

thanks for any input

hopelessy fighting the impracticalities of philosophy degrees

r hish


i can appreciate your concern and your situation. i’m not familiar with UCI (i actually don’t even know what the letters stand for, but i’m guessing it’s university something…) but, must universities allow for interdisciplinary studies. i would suggest that you look into that. for instance, you mentioned computer science, that discipline has a branch of artificial intelligence which intersects with cognition studies (which is philosophy). eventually, you’ll be able to take philosophy courses and get a degree that is practical.

hope it helps


My brother went to UCI (which stands for University of California at Irvine; you’re welcome Trix :wink: ), he dealt with the same bureaucracy. If I were in your shoes, I would insist on a degree in philosophy and argue on the ficticious grounds that you desired to be a lawyer. Unless they have a pre-legal studies program, philosophy is the best major to have before entering Law school (Philosophy majors have the highest average score of any major on the LCAT, or the Law school entrance exam).

Good Luck.

Thanks for the input guys. Ive actually considered the pre-law avenue. or even the “ficticious” paralegal. Their argument back is that i must prove employable at completion of my B.A or B.S.
I called the school to see what they had to say and they recommended i go to their career center. I think i will next week.
I havent yet considered the interdiscipline avenue, and it looks like you may have something there.
UCI does have an AI specialty within their CS school. Its worth a look.

Either way, thanks for the input. And since everyone has a famous quote in their messages i thought i would add one. And remember, great ideas dont always come from great people. :slight_smile:

“Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.”

How did me saying I want a career that would eventually lead to 50,000 a year turn me into a person whose only care was money? 50,000 a year is slightly above average income for a family of four. ( a family is something i hope to one day have). And where I come from 50,000 a year is Half of what the average person makes. (I live in the richest county in the U.S).

I have no idea what kind of career I want, I guess I wouldn’t mind teaching philosophy. I am leaning towards majoring in philosophy because so far it is the only subject that I like in college.

I also don’t care about getting into a career that is challenging. If I could make 50,000 a year sitting at home getting high I would.

Bill wrote:

then you shouldn’t be concerned about finding a career based in philosophy

If you want to use only an undergraduate degree as a medium for an lucrative financial career “easily,” then you probably do not want to major in philosophy. There are many degrees at the undergraduate level which can provide a comfortable living financially more so than with philosophy.
Now if you are considering graduate school, then majoring in philosophy is not a bad thought. This is however a major commitment and it isn’t necessarily as easy to obtain financial rewards as it is with other fields.
Another option could be to minor in philosophy and major in a field that offers more opportunity at the undergraduate level.
It pretty much depends on how much of a commitment you are willing to make to your education.

Well I wouldn’t know what other field to get into as I really don’t like anything else. All I know is that I don’t want a desk job in some office cubicle staring at a computer all day. Neither do I want a job that requires manual labor.