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Career Opportunities with Philosophy

Are you considering majoring or minoring in philosophy at BGSU, but wondering what you'd do with a degree in philosophy?  

You are not alone!  This is a very common concern.  It affects us all in the College of Arts & Sciences.  There is no obvious career path for a philosophy major -- or for that matter for an english major, history major, popular culture major, sociology major, psychology major, or classical civilizations major.  Of course, you might teach some of these things (e.g., english, history), but the vast majority of majors in these areas do not.  The same is true of philosophy.  Only a tiny percentage (probably around 1%) of philosophy majors across the country go on to teach it.  

So what do the rest do?  Well, everything.  They go to law school, but also medical school and business school.  Some don't go on to school but simply work in areas such as government, education, and business.  

By emphasizing logical thinking and clear expression, philosophy teaches you skills that are useful in every career -- skills that aren't quickly dated.  Thus philosophy will help you to succeed no matter what career you choose. Will a major in philosophy make it harder to get your "foot in the door"?  Not in any graduate or professional school; philosophy majors beat almost all other majors on the standardized tests required for entrance.  (See the first link below.)  How about if you want to go right into the corporate world?  There's no evidence we are aware of that philosophy students are at a disadvantage here.  However, we'd offer you the same advice as we would a student with any other major: you would be wise to pursue activities outside of classes to prepare you for your chosen profession (e.g., jobs, internships).  And, as you get close to graduation, contact BGSU's career center for assistance in your job search.

In short, philosophy majors do get jobs.  If you major in philosophy, you will too.  And, we think, your training in philosophy will help you succeed in your chosen career.  Finally -- and perhaps most importantly -- the skills philosophy gives you aren't limited in relevance to your job.  Clear and logical thinking is essential in all areas of life!  

Below are a few links singing the praises of majoring in philosophy:


Fordham University Philosophy Department

Ashley McDowell "What Can I Do With a Philosophy Degree?"

New York Times: "Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life and in Work"

The Atlantic.com: "The Management Myth"

New York Times: "In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined"

Please get in touch if you want to talk more about these or other issues.

Best,

Ian Young

Undergraduate Advisor

 

Philosophy Majors and Standardized Admissions Test Scores

For those who do want to go on to Graduate School or Law School, there is further good news.  Philosophy majors have traditionally scored at or near the top of the humanities and social sciences in standardized tests for admission to graduate and professional schools. This reflects the fact that philosophical training involves applying rigorous logical analysis to complicated questions that require creative and independent thought. Because of this training, philosophy is also an excellent major for students going on to graduate or professional school. The department has a specially designed curriculum for those interested in law, medicine, business, or theology. The tests scores are below:

GRE (Graduate Records Exam)

GRE average test results by field for Oct. 1, 1995 to Sept. 30, 1998 (the most recent available results). The GRE test is required for entrance for almost all graduate schools.
Source: ETS homepage

1898 Physics
1817 Chemical Engineering
1811 Philosophy
1799 Economics
1776 Physical Sciences Overall
1766 Computer and Information Sciences
1764 Chemistry
1762 Electrical Engineering
1759 Engineering Overall
1721 Civil Engineering
1699 Earth Sciences
1690 Industrial Engineering
1688 Biological Sciences
1663 English
1658 Anthropology and Archaeology
1657 History
1654 Arts and Humanities Overall
1654 Art, History, Theory and Criticism
1644 Political Science
1590 Agriculture
1575 Natural Sciences Overall
1567 Social Sciences Overall
1535 Psychology
1514 Health and Medical Sciences
1506 Business Overall
1485 Education Overall

LSAT (Law School Admissions Test)

The following numbers are the average scores on the LSAT by field for those applying to Law School for entrance in the Fall of 1998 (the most recent available figures).
Source: Law School Ad. Council, Robert Carr

Physics 159.9
Philosophy 156.6
Economics 155.6
Anthropology 155.5
Chemistry-General 155.3
Art History 154.2
History 154.1
English 153.8
Biology-General 153
Psychology 151.8
Political Science 151.4
Education-General 148.7
Sociology 149.4
Criminal Justice 145