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July 9, 2012 / NextStepU

Major Monday – Philosophy

Famous philosophers throughout history have thrived on questions about our lives and seek answers to what is unknown. If you are as curious about life and seek answers to your questions, you might want to consider majoring in philosophy.


According to the College Board, students who declare a major in philosophy often graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Typical courses that students take include ethics, logic, epistemology (the study of knowledge) and political theory. Many students often complete a senior thesis in their final year that offers the opportunity to closely examine an area of study that interests them the most. This area of study can vary based on what the student wants to pursue in the future and can include anything from medical topics to questions of law and ethics.

What to know before you apply

Since philosophy can question so many different areas of study, students should be aware of the different strengths of each institution; for example if it focuses more on the philosophy of science or of law. Students should also find out if there is opportunity to meet one-on-one with their professors and if extensive classroom discussion is encouraged. Students who pursue this major should also be comfortable working in groups, be able to think about complex ideas, read and write about challenging book material and argue their ideas.


Few students who major in philosophy actually become philosophers. Instead, many use their skills in problem solving and logic to pursue other careers in law or as economists. As of 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that governmental lawyers averaged a yearly salary of $127,550 at the federal level, $91,040 at the local level and $82,750 at the state level. Economists averaged $96,320 for yearly salary as of 2009.


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