Studying philosophy develops skills that are useful in any chosen career.

A recent survey of employers conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that critical thinking skills, complex problem-solving skills, and written and oral communication skills are among the most important skills employers are looking for in potential employees. Another survey found that 93 percent of employers say that "a candidate's demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major." These general skills are precisely what the standardized exams for admittance to graduate, business, and law school are designed to test for, and the data demonstrate that philosophy majors do extraordinarily well on them.

Preparation for Graduate, Business, and Law School

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

Philosophy majors outperform all other majors on both the Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing sections of the GRE. Here is a comprehensive list of the average scores.

Average scores for representative majors in the Verbal Reasoning section:

GRE Verbal

Average scores for representative majors in the Analytical Writing section:

GRE Analytic

Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)

Philosophy majors outperform business, finance, marketing, information systems, international business, and accounting majors on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and outperform every undergraduate major except physics, math, and engineering.

Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and Law School

Philosophy majors do extremely well on the LSAT, with the second highest average score (just below economics majors) among the disciplines with at least 2,000 students taking the exam. 

The analytical skills you learn in philosophy courses are also very useful for legal analysis. Richard Posner, who served as chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, put it this way:

"The methods of analytic philosophy and of legal reasoning—the making of careful distinctions and definitions, the determination of logical consistency through the construction and examination of hypothetical cases, the bringing of buried assumptions to the surface, the breaking up of a problem into manageable components, the meticulous exploration of the implications of an opponent's arguments—are mainly the same." (Overcoming Law, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995, p. 9)

And here's what the American Bar Association's Council on Legal Education and Opportunity has said about the value of taking philosophy courses for admission to law school:

"In assessing a prospective law student's educational qualifications, admissions committees generally consider the chosen curriculum, the grades earned, and the reputation of the colleges attended. They also view favorably scholastic honors, awards, and special recognition. Solid grades in courses such as logic, philosophy, and abstract mathematics are generally considered a plus… Contrary to popular belief, law schools do not favor political science, criminal justice, and government majors over others. Choose major and elective courses that you will genuinely enjoy, instead of those you were told were required for prelaw students. You are likely to get better grades in a field you find interesting. And even if you don't, law schools will respect your pursuit of subjects you find challenging. This is especially true if the courses you take are known to be more difficult, such as philosophy, engineering, and science. Also, look for courses that will strengthen the skills you need in law school. Classes that stress research and writing are excellent preparation for law school, as are courses that teach reasoning and analytical skills."

(Note: Although the data above demonstrate that philosophy majors do extremely well on standardized tests, they do not show that studying philosophy is causally responsible for high test scores. It's possible that students who choose to major in philosophy tend to be students who would do well on standardized tests regardless of their choice of major.)

Give Yourself an Edge in the Job Market

Whatever your chosen career path, majoring or double-majoring in philosophy can give you a competitive edge in the job market. Philosophy majors are well-trained in ethics and in critical thinking. Philosophy majors are good communicators and are well-trained in the basic skills of reasoning and problem solving.  These are the skills that will take you beyond entry-level positions into mid- and high-level positions.

Indeed, a recent Payscale study of 3.5 million people found that the mid-career median salary of philosophy majors is $94, 300. As an article in FiveThirtyEight points out, "when it comes to earnings for people who only have undergraduate degrees, philosophy majors… have the highest salary growth trajectory from entry to mid-career." Whether you're headed for a career in business, information technology, social services, law, or the health professions, having majored or double-majored in philosophy can help distinguish you from the pack.

We're extremely proud of our alumni, who are attorneys, professors, talent agents, restaurant managers, analysts at the Federal Reserve, B2B account managers, Army officers, medical students, web developers, biotech researchers, employees at homeless shelters, and account executives at consulting firms. Please check out our alumni page, as well as what some of our alumni have said about studying philosophy at IUP. A list of philosophy students who have worked in a variety of fields can be found on the American Philosophical Association's Who Studies Philosophy? page.

Philosophy as a Second Major

Philosophical questions arise in every discipline, and adding a secondary major in philosophy can provide a new perspective on your primary course of study. Coursework in philosophy of science (PHIL 330), philosophy of mind (360), the philosophy of human nature (PHIL 390), and metaphysics and epistemology (PHIL 420) can deepen your understanding of the methods, assumptions, and implications of natural science and social science. Coursework in the history of ideas (PHIL 324, 325, and 326) can deepen your understanding of academic pursuits, generally. Coursework in ethics (PHIL 122, 130, 270, 320) and political philosophy (PHIL 323) will provide you with orientation for work in social science, business, criminology, the health professions, or safety science. Our program is designed to be flexible for students who who declare the major as sophomores or even juniors. 

Articles on the Value of a Philosophy Degree

"A Case for Majoring in Philosophy" Forbes. "The surprisingly robust ROI for philosophy majors can be traced to its intellectual rigor. Philosophers are taught to seek out the pressure points in arguments and to reason for themselves… It is no wonder then, that philosophers are comfortable in the courtroom, control room, or boardroom. They are trained in public expression and mental discipline, both crucial skills for managers, executives, lawyers, and leaders."

"The Earning Power of Philosophy Majors" The Atlantic. "We hear again and again that employers value creative problem solving and the ability to deal with ambiguity in their new hires, and I can't think of another major that would better prepare you with those skills than the study of philosophy."

"Philosophers Don't Get Much Respect, But Their Earnings Don't Suck" FiveThirtyEight. "philosophy majors also have some of the highest scores in the LSAT and GMAT—the required tests for entry to law and business school respectively. And when it comes to earnings for people who only have undergraduate degrees, philosophy majors have the fourth-highest median earnings [and] the highest salary growth trajectory from entry to mid-career."

"5 Reasons Why Philosophy Majors Make Great Entrepreneurs" Entrepreneur. "When accomplished entrepreneurs like Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, and Carly Fiorina credit their philosophy backgrounds for their success, you have to wonder if they're on to something."

"The Unexpected Way Philosophy Majors Are Changing the World of Business" Huffington Post. "[M]any leaders of the tech world from LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman to Flickr founder Stewart Butterfield say that studying philosophy was the secret to their success as digital entrepreneurs."

"Where the Smart Kids Are" New York Times. "Even in the 21st century, smarts matter to lawyers, to doctors, to problem-solvers in all fields, as well as to a good life. After nearly 20 years in law teaching, I can confirm that no one is smarter than the serious undergraduate philosophy major."

"The Sword of Damocles: The Value of Philosophy to a Business Leader" Chicago Business Journal. "The biggest complaint I hear from executives about their employees is their inability to think (morally and intellectually) through problems and decisions. A real philosophy program taught by good philosophy professors who understand the common sense teachings of the ancient Greeks is a far better path to learning how to think."

"Be Employable, Study Philosophy" Salon. "The discipline teaches you how to think clearly, a gift that can be applied to just about any line of work."

"A Harvard Medical School Professor Makes the Case for the Liberal Arts and Philosophy Washington Post. "If you can get through a one-sentence paragraph of Kant, holding all of its ideas and clauses in juxtaposition in your mind, you can think through most anything. If you can extract, and abstract, underlying assumptions or superordinate principles, or reason through to the implications of arguments, you can identify and address issues in a myriad of fields."

"9 Famous Execs Who Majored in Philosophy" Business Insider. The list includes Carly Fiorina, Sheila Bair, George Soros, Herbert Allison Jr., Gerald Levin, and Peter Thiel.

"How Philosophy Makes You A Better Leader" Harvard Business Review.

"That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket" Forbes. "'Studying philosophy taught me two things,' says Butterfield [CEO of Slack]… 'I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings.' … Slack's core business benefits from the philosopher's touch… Considering that Butterfield spent his early 20s trying to make sense of Wittgenstein's writings, sorting out corporate knowledge might seem simple."

"From Technologist to Philosopher" The Chronicle of Higher Education. "So if I really hoped to make major progress in AI, the best place to do this wouldn't be another AI lab. If I really wanted to build a better thinker, I should go study philosophy."

"Surprise: Humanities Degrees Provide Great Return on Investment" Forbes. "The present value of the extra earnings that graduates in humanities majors can expect over their lifetime is $302,400 for drama majors, $444,700 for English majors, $537,800 for history majors, and $658,900 for philosophy majors."

"I Think, Therefore I Earn" The Guardian. "A philosophy degree has trained the individual's brain and given them the ability to provide management-consulting firms with the sort of skills that they require and clients demand. These skills can include the ability to be very analytical, provide clear and innovative thinking, and question assumptions."  

"The Management Myth" The Atlantic. "If you want to succeed in business, don't get an MBA. Study philosophy instead."

"The College Degrees with the Biggest Salaries" Forbes. "For starting salaries, engineering and things like nursing are pretty strong… But the list reorders further into people's careers… If you looked at the pay of people 15 years out, philosophy is actually in the top 10%."

"Why I Was Wrong About Liberal-Arts Majors" Wall Street Journal. "Looking back at the tech teams that I've built at my companies, it's evident that individuals with liberal arts degrees are by far the sharpest, best-performing software developers and technology leaders. Often these modern techies have degrees in philosophy, history, and music."

"For Philosophy Majors, the Question After Graduation is: What Next?" Washington Post. "Graduates in philosophy inhabit Wall Street corner offices, roam the oak-paneled halls of the Supreme Court and reign over boardrooms in Silicon Valley… 'It helps you break things down to their simplest elements,' [former FDIC Chair, Sheila] Bair said. 'My philosophy training really helps me with that intellectual rigor of simplifying things and finding out what's important.'"

"50 Ways to Improve Your Life." On the list? Study Philosophy. U.S. News and World Report "Those tools [that philosophy teaches] include critical thinking, logic, and analytical writing, which have practical applications in a range of careers such as law, teaching, medicine, business, and management and are valuable to have in times of economic (and employment) uncertainty."