Last Updated: September 20, 2022
Philosophy is a field of study that deals with concepts relating to truth, ideas of right, wrong, reason, human nature, values, and ethics. The study of philosophy involves methods such as questioning, conducting rational arguments, engaging in critical discussion, and a systematic presentation of oneâ€™s ideas. The branch of philosophy initially had a holistic approach with people like Aristotle who engaged in the study of different aspects of knowledge.
Philosophy in modern times deals with subfields like metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and logic. Here, metaphysics deal with questions relating to identity, causality, and the necessity and possibility of existence. Epistemology deals with the study of the origin, justification, scope, and issues relating to knowledge. Logic deals with reasoning and the formulation of good arguments. Other fields under philosophy include aesthetics, philosophy of the mind, philosophy of science, political philosophy, philosophy of language, etc.
Why Study Philosophy?
Degrees in philosophy are not purely theoretical courses as they allow students to develop a certain skill set that would aid them in their pursuit of different careers. Students are taught to analyze the human condition and human interactions with one another through the works of various philosophers, the study of metaphysics and ethics, and the practice of deductive & inductive reasoning. This prepares students to take up careers in the fields of education, business, technology, and social justice after they complete their respective courses.
A few of the skills that one can develop while studying philosophy include-
- Information Management â€" Due to the wide scope of the subjects in this field and the various subfields it holds, students will be trained to be adept at managing information. This boosts the productivity of the student and is helpful for careers that are involved in research and collating information.
- Writing â€" As philosophy involves the study of rhetoric and logic to form cohesive arguments, students develop a flair for writing, which enables them to present information in an incisive manner.
- Analytical ability â€" Philosophy involves the study of logic and reasoning, which facilitates students to think critically and solve problems logically and systematically.
Duration of Degrees in Philosophy
The duration of degree programs in philosophy is dependent on the level of degree one is taking in the subject. An associateâ€™s degree in philosophy will have a duration of 2 years whereas a bachelorâ€™s degree in the subject can have 3 to 4 years depending on the university the candidate is attending. A masterâ€™s program in the subject generally has a duration of 2 years and a doctoral program can have a duration between 3 to 5 years depending on the university and the pace at which the candidate can submit their dissertation.
|Associate Degree||2 years|
|B.A. Degree||3-4 years|
|M.A. Degree||2 years|
Eligibility Requirements for Studying Philosophy
Candidates who wish to take up a degree in philosophy will have to meet the eligibility requirements based on the level of degree they are choosing and the university they plan to attend. Students must have the following requirements when applying for a degree in philosophy:
- Minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- Educational Transcripts
- Letters of Recommendation
- Statement of Purpose
- Average score of 20 for ACT or average SAT score of 1050 to 1060
- A thesis paper at the undergraduate level, for Masterâ€™s programs
Cost of Studying Philosophy
The cost of studying philosophy in the country is dependent on the level of the degree the candidate is taking and the university they are attending. Public institutions charge lower tuition fees from candidates whereas private universities can have tuition fees that are double or triple the same amount. In public institutions, candidates will have separate fee structures based on whether they are residents or non-residents of the state. The average amount that students will have to pay in a public institution is estimated to be around $7,200 if they are a resident. This amount can go up to $36,000 in private institutions.
Degrees in Philosophy
Like many other subjects, philosophy degrees can be obtained at various levels - associate, bachelorâ€™s, master's, and doctorate. It is classified under the study of the Humanities and can be supplemented with related subjects such as English literature and law. Students can also pursue scientific subjects like mathematics, computer science, and psychology, along with philosophy. These degrees enable the student to study concepts of various philosophical thinkers through history and develop their ability of critical thinking.
Associateâ€™s Degree in Philosophy
It is a two-year program that involves a curriculum that teaches fundamental concepts of philosophy to its students, such as the evolution of philosophy through the various philosophers through history along with courses on ethics, epistemology, and logic. The course involves benefits that are similar to a bachelor's course allowing candidates to develop skills like engagement in communication, critical and analytical thinking, and knowledge of philosophy influencing different aspects of human life and history. The completion of this course enables students to apply for jobs in different fields such as business, politics, and healthcare.
Bachelorâ€™s in Philosophy
In this program, students are trained to acquire analytical, critical, and argumentative skills that would enable them to pursue jobs in various fields, which require an application of the philosophy and related topics. It is recommended that students gather enough information about the colleges that they wish to apply to. This is to assess whether the degrees offer courses of their choice.
The duration of completing a bachelorâ€™s degree in philosophy is about four years. It lasts longer for students who opt for a part-time program. It requires a student around 120 to 122 credits to complete their undergraduate degree. Those who double major or have added a concentration to their coursework will require more credits for graduating.
Masterâ€™s in Philosophy
A masterâ€™s degree in philosophy enables philosophy graduates to build upon the critical and analytical skills, and knowledge they acquired during their bachelorâ€™s degree. It involves the study of philosophical theories of logic and the subfields of philosophy such as philosophy of the mind, philosophy of language, aesthetics, and political philosophy. However, students must have a clear idea of which aspect of philosophy they wish to pursue as graduate programs offer specializations due to work requirements.
Doctorate in Philosophy
Since philosophy is a vast field of study, candidates often do not complete their education at the masterâ€™s level. Getting a doctoral degree in the field is highly recommended for attaining most professions in this field. A doctoral degree in the field is mostly focused on preparing dissertations in topics like medical ethics, ideas relating to existentialism due to various thinkers associated with it, and religion & related aspects.
To write a dissertation, one must prepare the following:
- Taking up additional courses and working in graduate seminars.
- Proficiency in a foreign language: German, French and Italian for modern branches of philosophy; Greek and Latin for ancient philosophy. This is because even though English translations are better, reading the original text is beneficial.
- Completion of a logic exam.
Specializations Offered in Philosophy
Candidates who take up this field of study will be able to specialize in different topics based on their interests. Not all universities offer all specializations and hence candidates have to specifically look for universities that can provide them with the program they need. A few of the popular specializations offered include-
- Ancient Greek Philosophy- This branch of philosophy deals with what is known as classical philosophy. Candidates will study the fundamental problems of human existence from the perspective of ancient philosophers in this field.
- Religious Studies- This philosophy deals with education in logic, epistemology, ethics, phenomenology, symbolism, sociology, etc. Candidates will also be dealing with topics like the art of religion, world religions, etc. as part of this field.
- Philosophy of Language- This field of philosophy belongs to analytic philosophy and it deals with the nature of language and the relationship between the world, language users, and language in itself.
- Philosophy of Law- This branch of philosophy deals with the question of law and justice. It will, by extension, deal with ideas like societal structures, systems of law, politics, governance, etc.
- Cognitive Science- This field deals with the idea that thought processes can be analyzed in terms of representational structures within the mind. It also deals with the apparent computational procedures that make the structures function.
- Biomedical Ethics- This field of philosophy is connected to the healthcare field and deals with ethical issues within the healthcare system. Candidates will be focusing on philosophical, social, and legal issues that commonly appear in the field of medicine.
- Philosophy of Computer Science- This philosophy deals with the study of computational systems and their epistemology. Candidates will be focusing on ethical and other problems relating to programming, verification, testing, etc. of computational systems.
- Modern Philosophy- This branch of philosophy sets a contrast to ancient philosophy and deals with the ideas of simplicity, certainty, and linear comprehensiveness.
- Metaphysics- This field of philosophy deals with the idea of reality and its fundamental nature. Candidates will be learning about the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, etc.
- Philosophy of Mind- This philosophy deals with the relationship between the mind and the human body. One will be focusing on ideas like the nature of the mind, mental properties, functions, consciousness, etc. as part of this specialization.
- Philosophy of Psychology- This branch of philosophy deals with the philosophical ideologies that are foundational to the field of psychology.
- Feminist Philosophy- This philosophy deals with the key issues and debates that revolve around feminist readings in philosophy. Through this field, candidates reinterpret philosophy texts from a feminist perspective.
- Philosophy and Disability- This branch deals with the idea of disability and the relevance of achieving political inclusion for the disabled.
Top Schools for Philosophy
The following are links to the different pages of the schoolsâ€™ respective departments of philosophy. They provide information on the modules offered, the faculty teaching these modules, and the overall scope of the departments in philosophy. These schools are the top-ranking institutions in the US, according to different ranking assessments. Students will observe that the modules presented on each of the pages may vary according to the institution but the overall content of the scope of philosophy taught is similar. One must also keep in mind that the ranks of the colleges may vary as it is based on general aspects as well as specialization in the subjects offered.
Careers for Graduates in Philosophy
The following are some career options that are available for students who take up degrees in philosophy:
- Lawyers and Paralegals: A philosophy degree can be complemented with law, as they can be studied together. It is common for philosophy majors to attend law school and become lawyers. A paralegal is a professional who provides research and support services to legal firms, which may include interacting with prospective clients for the firm as well.
- Ethicist: These are professionals who aid families and staff who make difficult decisions relating to care and treatment. They can work for a corporation, hospital, or ethics board.
- Business professionals: Upon completion of philosophy, one can apply for corporate jobs such as editors, stockbrokers, marketing and sales executives, managers, publishing executives, and real estate, as the students are familiar with the ethical concerns that may arise in business practices. They are also trained to solve problems in a systemized manner, which can be very useful in the business world.
- Journalists: As philosophy majors are trained in rhetoric and logic, it makes them suitable candidates for careers in journalism as it requires a flair for writing, research, investigation, formulating coherent arguments, and communication skills.
- Professors: This would require one to complete their doctorate in their respective area of specialization so that they can train young minds in the different aspects of philosophy.
- Government officials: With a philosophy degree, one can work in positions at the government level, as it requires their staff to have good communication skills, creativity, and a good knowledge of conditions that affect humans. As philosophy students are known to be effective thinkers and problem solvers, it enables them to be successful in this field.
- Health care administrators: Students with a philosophy degree can also work in administrative sections of health care as they are knowledgeable about the various ethical concerns involved in the sector. This is facilitated by the critical thinking skills of philosophy majors.
A few interesting facts regarding philosophy studies are-
- Philosophy and Religious Studies majors generally surpass all other major subjects in the Admission Test of Law School.
- Around 473,500 graduates are employed after graduating in this field of study. They have a median salary of $55,000 per year.
- Out of the people employed in this field, 65% of them only have a bachelorâ€™s degree and around 57% of them have an advanced degree.
- 3/4th of the employers in the US encourage students to take a liberal arts education with a focus on fields like religious studies and philosophy.
- The skills that are most sought after by employers include reasoning skills and critical thinking which are core skills that one learns in philosophy.