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Everyone knows that few jobs specifically require a philosophy major. The resulting popular perception is that philosophy majors are not prepared for many positions. The reality is that the skills learned through the study of philosophy are valuable in just about any professional career.
“I tell people the most useful classes I took were all in philosophy. Yes, the course of study that has long been denigrated as frivolous and useless in the job market has been the part of my education that I lean on again and again. For work and everything else… . [A] smattering of undergrad philosophy classes taught me something applicable to any and every job: clarity of thought. Name me one aspect of your life that doesn’t benefit from being able to think something through clearly.”
Shannon Rupp, journalist. Read the full article by Rupp here.
Philosophical study requires the ability to read complex materials, over a wide range of subjects. Philosophy develops reasoning skills, essential for problem-solving in many areas. And philosophy demands clear and effective writing. Philosophy also raises central values questions that underlie career decisions: what kind of life do I seek to lead, what contribution might I make, which organization would be a good fit given my beliefs and commitments?
Some MBA programs, like Georgetown and Wake Forest, have gotten the message. They now incorporate the study of philosophical works, as a way to encourage students to reflect on the ‘big picture’. Read more about it here.
“While working with a team this past year to develop an entrepreneurial education program, I met with dozens of entrepreneurs from around the world, listened to their stories, and looked for patterns in their experience. Even in skill-specific fields such as technology, many successful entrepreneurs studied — and were downright passionate about — philosophy.”
Christine Nasserghodsi, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, GEMS Education
Read the full article by Nasserghodsi here.
Law schools have known all along; philosophy is regularly listed as a top major for law school. For applicants to ABA law schools, the Law School Admissions Council reports that 85% of philosophy majors were accepted. That’s tied for the highest rate among the top twelve majors in terms of numbers of applicants. (Read more here.)
So it’s not surprising that our alums are engaged in a wide range of careers, from the arts and communication to business and law—and to teaching philosophy. While completing a PhD, one alum has returned to teach courses at Lake Forest. Glen Sisk ’98, notes, “The philosophy major at Lake Forest College provides the skills to critically analyze any situation. Studying the variety of approaches offered in philosophy classes allows an individual’s mind to expand. This in an invaluable tool in life.” And in many careers. Consider the wide range of fields generally considered appropriate for philosophy majors, from community service to business to consulting to education administration.
And various studies suggest philosophy majors do well as their careers progress. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “Your parents might have worried when you chose Philosophy or International Relations as a major. But a year-long survey of 1.2 million people with only a bachelor’s degree by PayScale Inc. shows that graduates in these subjects earned 103.5% and 97.8% more, respectively, about 10 years post-commencement.”