What you can do with a philosophy degree

Deep thinkers who are fascinated by abstract concepts such as love, happiness, success, and truth should consider pursuing a philosophy degree. This type of degree is for people who not only have a knack for analyzing arguments and assessing their validity, but also possessing the creativity and insight to raise a theoretical discussion about big ideas.

Because philosophy is an academic discipline that emphasizes logic and rhetoric, it encourages intellectual versatility, experts say.

Amy Morgenstern, who has a doctorate. in Philosophy and founder of Blue Stars Admissions Consulting Company in California, explained in an email that studying philosophy “sharpens your mind and trains your ability to process complex thoughts no matter what field you are in. “.

She notes that the ability to think for oneself is essential for a philosophy major, as it is difficult for a student to do well in a philosophy program if they are not innovative. “Students’ homework is graded according to the originality of their ideas; if they don’t think independently, they can’t be great, ”she says.

Morgenstern describes philosophy as “the art of digging beneath the surface” to uncover essential truths about human existence, and she says that people trained in this academic discipline are equipped to “expand their minds beyond evidence ”and become“ opinion leaders .

Philosophy majors tend to outperform others on standardized tests such as GRE, LSAT, and GMAT, according to score data released by testing agencies. A Wall Street Journal Analysis of the long-term earnings potential of people with various academic specializations revealed that Philosophy majors tend to get raises and promotions faster than people with other majors, and the result of this rapid career progression is that the mid-career earnings of philosophy majors are typically double the amount of their starting salary.

Besides, statistical analysis conducted by analytics firm FiveThirtyEight in 2015 found that among bachelor’s degree holders with just a college degree, philosophy majors had the fourth highest median annual salary – $ 81,200 – with earnings that eclipsed those from the majors that are often presumed to be more useful, such as as a business.

Perhaps because of the discipline’s emphasis on questioning orthodoxy, avoiding dogmatism, and proposing new ideas, alumni of philosophy programs often become influential innovators. Here are some examples of distinguished and accomplished philosophy degree holders:

  • Nobel Prize winning poet TS Eliot.
  • Golden Globe winner filmmaker Wes Anderson.
  • Pioneer singer, writer and rapper Dessa.
  • Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel Prize winning novelist Pearl S. Buck.
  • NBA coach Phil Jackson won a record.

Some philosophy students have become powerful lawyers, judges and politicians. Examples include US President Thomas Jefferson, US Representative John Lewis, and US Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and David Souter. There are many business titans with philosophy degrees, such as billionaire investor George Soros and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and even some prominent religious leaders, including Pope John Paul II.

Although the number of bachelor’s degrees in philosophy from U.S. colleges and universities fell sharply between 2013 and 2016, the number of graduates in this field increased slightly between 2016 and 2018, according to Eric Schwitzgebel, professor of philosophy at the University of California — Riverside.

Philosophy professors say the knowledge gained through philosophy courses is particularly applicable to career paths that involve considering and resolving ethical dilemmas, such as legal, political, and government jobs. Philosophy training can also prove useful in the tech industry, as understanding how and why people think in a particular way is helpful when creating artificial intelligence technology, professors say.

Additionally, since alumni of philosophy programs tend to excel at speaking and writing, they often choose professions focused on communication, including jobs in advertising, marketing, and communication. according to the teachers.

Holders of a philosophy degree report that their degree is relevant to each of the jobs listed below:

  • Account manager in a public relations or marketing company.
  • Lawyer.
  • Bioethicist.
  • Communication director.
  • Marketing director.
  • Ontologist.
  • Policy analyst.
  • Professor of philosophy.
  • Research assistant.

Michael Bennett McNulty, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, notes that philosophy courses give students skills they can use across a wide range of career paths, such as the ability to persuasively argue and identify propaganda.

McNulty says that the emphasis on logic in philosophy classes makes the field somewhat comparable to mathematics. He notes that those with a philosophy degree are often “spectacular writers” and suggests that they have widely applicable skills.

Derek Turner, professor of philosophy at College of Connecticut, suggests that a common misconception in the field of philosophy is that a person must be particularly arrogant, argumentative, or combative in order to excel in this subject. There is also a perception that a philosophy student nitpicks the arguments advanced by others.

“Our discipline has that kind of baggage, and it’s really sad, and a lot of us are trying to change that,” Turner said.

Turner says prospective philosophy students should expect a philosophy course to be a “joint investigation.” He describes an ideal philosophy course as a collaborative environment where “people from all walks of life with different intellectual interests can come together and just explore issues together and sort things out.”

Many with a philosophy degree say their education has given them writing skills that they have used throughout their careers.

Michael Ares, a philosophy graduate and owner of corporate marketing firm MDA in Georgia, says philosophy classes have taught him how to convince people to change their minds – a useful skill in the business world.

“Persuasive writing, which is to say, very simply, trying to do something, trying to change minds – that’s what philosophers do,” he says. “I say I’m in the business of changing people’s minds.”

About Leslie Schwartz

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