What Can You Do with a Philosophy Degree?

"If I were to start again as an undergraduate, I would major in philosophy. I think that subject is really at the core of just about everything we do. If you study humanities or political systems or sciences in general, philosophy is really the mother ship from which all of these disciplines grow.” -Matthew Goldstein, the CUNY chancellor, who majored in mathematics and statistics.1


(click charts to see full-size)

Philosophy majors are well-prepared to pursue a wide variety of career interests. That's because studying philosophy teaches you how to think critically, how to write clearly, and how to reason effectively. Of course, the best reason to study philosophy is that it is inherently fascinating. But philosophy majors also do exceptionally well after graduation. That philosophy is impractical is a myth.

The proof is in the outcomes of our alumni. We surveyed our own alumni from the last 30 years, and of the 133 majors and 30 minors who responded or are on LinkedIn:

  •       18% went into higher education, either as graduate students or as employees (often one prior to the other), and 9% went into primary and secondary education.

o   This is unsurprising, as philosophy majors generally outperform all other majors on the Verbal and Analytical Writing sections, and outperform all other humanities and most social science majors on the Quantitative Reasoning Section of the GRE (used for admission to Graduate School).2

  •     45% went into either law, business, or technology (15% into each).

o   Again, not surprising, given that philosophy majors are generally tied with one other major for the highest scores on the LSAT (used for admission to Law School).3 

o   They also generally have higher scores on the GMAT than any other major except for mathematics, physics, and engineering (for admission to Business School).4

o   And, of course, with their rigorous training in formal logic, philosophy students make natural fits into technology fields.

  •     7% went into some kind of public service, whether that means government, politics, military, or non-profit work.
  •     The other 21% went into a range of fields, including art, finance, insurance, architecture, medicine, and more!

o   Philosophy majors generally have the highest Medical School acceptance rate. 5


In general, liberal arts majors tend to make less money early in their career, but catch up and even pass non-liberal arts majors as their careers progress.6 In particular, philosophy majors typically have the greatest salary growth over the course of their careers and a higher mid-career salary than all other humanities and many social science and science majors.7

Not only do our students pursue a wide variety of careers, they also pursue those careers with a huge number of employers! Here are just some of the places where our alumni are working:

Philosophy Employers

Want to learn more about our alumni? Check out our Alumni Profiles!


1 Hu, Winnie, “In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined,”  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/education/06philosophy.html

2 “ETS data by major 2012-2015,” http://www.ets.org/s/gre/pdf/gre_guide_table4.pdf

3 “Philosophy Student Performance in the LSAT”, American Philosophical Association, https://www.apaonline.org/resource/resmgr/Data_on_Profession/Philosophy_performance_on_LS.pdf

4Profile of Graduate Management Admissions Test Candidates, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2001-02, 20002-03, 2003-04, Five Year Summary”, Graduate Management Admissions Council: pp. 28-33.

Jung, P., “Major Anxiety” http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Homepage/Publications/TheNewPhysician/2000/tnp275.aspx (no longer available online to non-AMSA members)

6 “Good News Liberal-Arts Majors: Your Peers Probably Won't Outearn You Forever” http://www.wsj.com/articles/good-news-liberal-arts-majors-your-peers-probably-wont-outearn-you-forever-1473645902

7 “Highest Paying Bachelors Degrees by Salary Potential,” http://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report/majors-that-pay-you-back/bachelors