Why major in Philosophy?

The best reason to study philosophy is because you love philosophical questions. Does God exist? Do humans have freedom, or are they mere cogs in a big machine? Is the mind or soul anything above and beyond the brain? Why should I be interested in the welfare of others? What do we need to consider when we try to act with fairness?

These are important questions, and philosophers try to get them in perspective. Most philosophers are convinced that it is important to grapple with them — even if there may be little hope of getting a final answer!

But there are also other benefits from studying philosophy. If you train your mind to think through these hard issues, you will be in excellent shape to think through other problems. Philosophy is like weight lifting for the mind: it gets you in condition for other kinds of challenges. Many philosophy majors go on to careers in law, business, politics, computer science, and medicine. It is a degree that prepares you to go out and learn just about anything. And in an age when most people will go through three or more career changes, that is a good preparation to have.

Philosophy majors also do extremely well on standard tests like the GRE, LSAT, and MCAT. One should be careful about interpreting this: the high scores probably mostly reflect that many people who do well on those kinds of tests are also interested in philosophy’s abstract questions, and so major in philosophy. But also studying philosophy doesn’t hurt!

Anyway, here’s a chart from 2015 displaying composite GRE scores (verbal + quantitative + analytic), sorted by major (from The Daily Nous, which provides further illuminating information):

Philosophy majors are in 4th place on the GMAT (basically, the test for MBA programs), behind Physics, Math, and Engineering. They are tied for 1st place with Economics majors on the LSAT (for law school).

Philosophy at Utah State University

The Philosophy program at USU answers our students’ interests in philosophy both in the classroom and out of it. Our Philosophy Club hosts events throughout the year, from lectures and films to reading groups and debates. Our Philosophy honor society, Phi Sigma Tau, is a member of the Association of College Honor societies.

Our majors have gone on to graduate study in Philosophy or law school at a range of excellent universities, including Berkeley, BYU, Duke, Harvard, Indiana University, University of Kansas, University of Michigan, Northern Illinois, University of Pittsburgh, Purdue, Texas A & M, the University of Arizona, the University of Chicago, the University of Utah, the University of Texas, and Yale.

Recent USU Philosophy graduates have gone on to (indicates year of graduation):

  • Fully funded Ph.D. program in Philosophy at Colorado State University (2017)
  • Fully funded Ph.D. Program in Classics and Philosophy at University of Michigan (2016)
  • Fully funded Ph.D. Program in History at Temple University (2016)
  • Fully funded Ph.D. program in Philosophy at the University of Kansas (2016)

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