What Can I Do with a Philosophy Major?

Short answer: just about anything you can do with another major, but with a leg up.

To cite just a few examples from among our recent graduates, many are in technology or law, one is in the diplomatic service, another is a reporter for NPR, two have started a coffee roasting company, several are in politics, and a large number are earning or have earned graduate degrees, in fields like education, religion, law, fine arts, physics, business, political science, medicine, computer science, and, of course, philosophy. Oh, and one graduate now sits on the Oregon Supreme Court (go Justice Flynn!). Few disciplines can boast of contributing to such diverse pursuits. It's not for nothing that The London Times has called philosophy the "ultimate 'transferable work skill'."

In what sense do philosophy majors have a leg up? As a group, philosophy majors gain employment on graduation at higher than average ratesscore at or near the top on admissions tests like the LSAT and GMAT; earn entrance to medical school at a higher rate than all other majors, including chemistry and biology; and more generally enjoy a well-earned reputation among employers for clear and rigorous thinking. While the best reason to major in philosophy is because it interests you, that choice turns out to be an excellent career move, too.

To start exploring career options even before you graduate, have a look at Employability: Where next? Unlocking the potential of your philosophy degree. This comprehensive analysis, produced by the UK Higher Education Committee, includes a market-oriented review of the skills honed by philosophy, a survey of needs among employers in various sectors, strategies for optimizing your pitch to potential employers, and instructive case studies. A bit of preparation now can go a long way toward easing your transition to a career later.

More information about philosophy and philosophy majors, including motivations and career prospects.