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Articles on Philosophy:
   Major in Philosophy
    A future in Philosophy

Major in Philosophy

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“To render oneself able to understand what other Christian thinkers have themselves come to understand and to…felicitously communicate requires that one's mind not be a blank slate but already properly formed, disciplined, and exercised.”

 ~ Gregory B. Sadler

The term “philosophy” is derived from the Greek and literally means “love of wisdom.” Stemming back to ancient times and great minds like Plato, Aristotle and Pythagoras, philosophy embodies a way of thinking about life that aims at the development of a person individually, and as a meaningful contributor to society.  Concerned with matters such as the existence of God and the soul, the nature of free will, reality, knowledge, reason, and value, philosophy as a college major, sometimes asks more questions than it answers.  It focuses on thinking, analyzing and communicating clearly and logically. These skills are wonderful preparation for any number of career options. If you are interested in grappling with the nature of truth and the meanings of life, law, language, art and morality, then a major of philosophy is the perfect fit for you!

Philosophy majors are often deeply reflective people, drawn to reason and critical thinking. They tend to be intellectual and enjoy debate, often possessing persuasive influence. In addition, it is desirable to have at least some level of the following skills and abilities:

  • Communication skills. Both verbal and written are necessary, as this major requires constant essay writing and group discussion. 
  • Interpersonal skills. Sometimes debates can become emotional and it is important to stay level headed and get along with fellow learners.
  • Research skills. This rigorous major delves into challenging reading and writing; the ability to dig deeper is a must.
  • Organization skills. Time management, independent work and the ability to stay on track are of utmost importance.

A philosophy degree is often seen as a foundational major and graduates can be found working in an extremely wide spectrum of fields including business, media, education, politics and publishing. While it is true that many students build upon a philosophy degree with ongoing education such as law school, it is important to keep in mind that employers are often more concerned with your competencies than the exact degree you obtain. Many brilliant minds have earned a philosophy degree and gone on to do incredible work in their public, private and non-profit sectors. Some examples of common career outcomes include:

  • Local government official/public service 
  • Paralegal
  • Newspaper journalist or technical writer
  • Research assistant 
  • Public relations agent
  • Tech support specialist
  • Assistant manager

Studies show that philosophy majors perform better on average than their peers in exams for law, medicine and other graduate studies, presumably because so many crucial, transferable skills in analysis, critical thinking and writing have been developed.  Here are some of the expected classes that will help enhance your learning:

  • Logic/reasoning
  • Ethics
  • Epistemology
  • Metaphysics  
  • Political theory

Maybe you’re naturally wired to ask questions others take for granted or will not ponder. The world needs deep, well-trained thinkers who will help guide us to understand the universe and our place in it. If this resonates with you then a philosophy major may be the next right step!