What is Philosophy?
Philosophy is the study of the process in which individuals seek to understand truths in life. Those who study philosophy are generally interested in the fundamental truths of people’s lives, how people interact with the world, and how people interact with one another. They focus on the “what” and the “how” of the here and now as well as the past and what’s to come. Philosophy can also be broken down into more specific areas of study, some of which are listed and briefly described below.
Epistemology – study of knowledge and how individuals and societies know what they know
Metaphysics – contemplation of what truly exists; spiritual metaphysics focuses on aspects related to theology (i.e., is there a god and do people truly have free will)
Ethics – study of moral principles of a person or group of people
Logic – study of why people do the things they do; examining results of ethics
How to Get a Philosophy Degree
Late in your junior year and early in your senior year of high school, you should begin looking for and applying to schools with philosophy programs that interest you. The sooner you get in applications, the sooner you can receive your admittance letters and begin planning for your future in philosophy.
The Department of Philosophy at Florida State University has excellent philosophy programs for both undergraduate and graduate students seeking a degree in the subject. Undergraduate students can focus their studies on everything from social and political philosophy to history of philosophy or the philosophy of science in order to prepare themselves for their desired careers in philosophy. Graduate students have smaller class sizes, as the graduate program for philosophy is quite smaller than that of the undergraduate. Smaller class sizes mean stronger relationships with professors. Closeness with professors often leads to a better educational experience in preparation for the working world. Graduate students in the philosophy department also have the opportunity to participate in weekly meetings with graduate students in the humanities and religion programs as well as faculty members from each in order to help decipher ancient texts of previous Greek philosophers.
The Philosophy Department at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to either major or minor in philosophy. When majoring in philosophy at the University of Tennessee, students can choose to focus their studies on a more specific area of philosophy including but not limited to philosophy of law and politics. Students are required to take two courses in the history of philosophy as well as various courses in epistemology, metaphysics, and more. Graduate students can earn masters and doctorate degrees in philosophy with concentrations in everything from legal philosophy to metaphysics and epistemology, as well.
Plymouth State University located in Plymouth, NH, offers a fantastic Department of History and Philosophy. Undergraduates can earn a Bachelor of Arts in History, a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, or a Bachelor of Science in Social Studies Education with opportunities to minor in history or philosophy. Graduate students can earn their upper level degrees in history or social studies education. The university boasts that students gain outstanding critical thinking skills and leadership abilities while partaking in the philosophy program and can qualify for excellent careers upon graduation.
Online degrees are becoming more popular these days, as well, what with schedules being packed with this and that. Online philosophy programs are no exception. If you’re interested in earning a degree in philosophy but your tight schedule prevents you from sitting in classrooms for three to four hours a day five days a week, consider turning to an online philosophy degree program.
Careers in Philosophy
If you’re still not sure whether you want to study philosophy in college, check out some of these career paths you can choose from once you earn a degree in philosophy.
Entry Level Careers in Philosophy
With a newly-acquired bachelors degree in philosophy, you may qualify for one or more of the positions described in this section.
JournalistJournalists with a bachelors degree in philosophy are equipped for critical and logical analysis of obtaining and checking factual information for articles presenting news to society. They are particularly skilled writers who have often gained experience from their time on their college newspaper or literary journal staff.
Journalists can earn around $32,000 or more annually, depending on their experience and education levels.
You’ve heard the term, but do you know what it means? “Lobbyist” is a more specific name for a public relations specialist who spends his or her time communicating with legislators in order to sway their votes in favor of the organization for which the lobbyist works. Lobbyists can work for a variety of public relations firms and organizations that focus on improving their communities. Lobbyists possess persuasive written and oral communication skills, and a bachelors degree in philosophy or communications is particularly impressive on applicants’ resumes. They also often have a year or two of experience working in public relations, as well.
Lobbyists can earn around $35,000 or more annually based on education and experience levels.
Advanced Careers in Philosophy
After earning a masters or doctoral degree in philosophy or a related field, or if you’ve gained a few years of experience in a career you landed with your bachelors degree in philosophy, you may qualify for one or more of the positions here.
Astrobiologists philosophize about and research evidence of life outside of Earth. They often observe life cycles of various types of bacteria in testing laboratories in order to determine if the bacteria can survive in abnormal environments potentially outside the planet’s atmosphere. Astrobiologists may become such by earning a bachelors degree in philosophy and going on to pursue a masters or doctoral degree in a specific science. Many philosophy programs require students to take science-related courses, and some students even choose to double-major in philosophy and science.
Astrobiologists can earn a starting salary of anywhere between $45,000 and $67,000 annually, based on knowledge and experience levels.
A bachelors degree in philosophy is excellent preparation for law school. If your ideal career goal is to become a lawyer, then majoring in philosophy will be incredibly beneficial to you before entering law school. Lawyers spend much of their time defending clients, criminals or victims depending on the type of lawyer, inside and outside the court of law. They work with clients in order to determine exact details upon what happened and what results clients expect from a court hearing. They also work with law enforcement to access evidence to support or disprove claims made in the courtroom. Lawyers possess outstanding communication and persuasive skills and are highly educated in various areas of the law.
Lawyers can earn anywhere from $54,000 to over $110,000 annually, depending on the number of cases they take on a year as well as their education and experience levels.
Companies that Hire People with Philosophy Degrees
Once you determine what career path to travel in the world of philosophy and you finally earn that degree, it’s time to go job hunting. There are more than just teaching jobs for people with degrees in philosophy, and the list of companies below is a prime example of that fact.
Ascensus – headquarters in Dresher, PA; largest U.S. independent college savings and retirement services provider; hires positions for public relations specialists, client service specialists, account managers, etc.
Autism Society of North Carolina – locations throughout NC; hires positions for employment supports coordinators, community services coordinators, etc.
Encore Capital Group, Inc. – founded in 1953 with headquarters in San Diego, CA; hires positions for directors of state government affairs, legal specialists, etc.
Kinder Morgan – headquarters in Houston, TX; American energy company; hires positions for public affairs managers, operations specialists, etc.
American Civil Liberties Union – headquarters in New York, NY; hires positions for marriage campaign strategists, digital media associates, lobbyists, lobbyist assistants, etc.
Philosophy is a very in-depth and slightly controversial field of study. If you are interested in being a philosophy major in college, then it is important that you research various schools’ philosophy programs in order to find a few that are most appealing to you. It’s also crucial that you create a game plan to land you a job within your field. This article is merely a stepping stone on your journey to find a career and a future that is the best fit for you.