Why Major in Philosophy?

By: Michael

I’ve talked before about why you should consider an accounting major, but today I am going to be taking you to the other side of the collegiate fence and attempt to express the benefits and joys of obtaining a degree in philosophy. As many of you who have read in my bio know, I have a joint-degree with a major in Philosophy in addition to my Accounting major but for reasons unknown, have waited until now to talk about it. There is a lot of negative connotation in many students’ minds about majoring in philosophy with the most common concerns being that there is no explicit career path outside of academia and even then the pay is abysmal. The good news is, everything you may have heard is horribly inaccurate and you are now getting a second chance at a first impression of the philosophy field!


Why did I choose Philosophy as a major?

When I began my undergraduate degree at Saint Cloud State as a pre-business student, I had no idea what philosophy was beyond Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato, which I only covered at the very surface when I was in high school. I had no idea that there was an entire devotional study with seemingly endless theories about every topic imaginable and more. Part of my general education requirements included an intro course in social sciences and I chose to do a course on Ethics in Society. What I discovered in that class changed the trajectory of my college career. Although many universities like UMD do not provide a pre-law program, philosophy apparently is the next best option considering that graduates from those programs tend to score the highest on the LSAT. I was considering law school at the time until I became more involved in Accounting and chose the path of a CPA instead. I chose to complete my philosophy degree because of the opportunities for law school, the surprising amount of cross-over between the department and the business field, and because it was interesting.

Here are a list of skills that you will have developed by the time you complete a degree in philosophy as well as brief examples of how they are beneficial:

The ability to analyze and evaluate arguments

Analyzing and evaluating arguments is an important skill that can be used in any number of professions in which interpersonal communication is a must. Analyzing and evaluating are crucial to the decision making process, especially when that decision affects others, or relies on concerns expressed by others. Being able to interpret different perspectives can help to establish a best possible outcome.

Clarity of thought

Philosophers learn early on that in order to present information on complex subjects, you need to be able to follow logical formats and be able to separate and distinguish your thoughts and ideas. This is important for critical thinking, an often sought after skill in the work force.

Advanced communication skills

In philosophy courses, you are constantly expected to be engaged in group discussion and debate because it is based on socially touchy subjects such as religion and politics, theories are just that and tend to be uncontrollably biased from individual to individual, and cognizance to logic is a must. To describe what I mean, there is a joke that describes the two laws of philosophy:

First Law: “For every philosopher, there is an equal and opposite philosopher”

Second Law: “They are both wrong”

This is important because when practicing these communication skills, you have to constantly acknowledge differences in people’s opinions and beliefs and you learn to respectfully manage conversations and handle them. Managers often have to communicate difficult decisions that others might disagree with and being able to communicate reasoning behind your decisions is a very valuable skill to have.

Breadth of vision

Philosophy students tend to be more open to new ideas and differing viewpoints on life, society, and knowledge. There is never and end-of-the-line in philosophy and you learn early on that trying to find a definitive answer will only lead you down the rabbit-hole. Knowing this, you accept that others have different views and you thirst to learn more and more about the world.

How to integrate your Philosophy degree

My most important tip to you for if you are interested in majoring in philosophy but aren’t interested in working in academia is to combine the major with that of another field you are interested in and plan to work in. For me, I chose Accounting but others have chosen all sorts of other combinations: Some common second majors that I have seen are:

  • Economics
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Psychology
  • Pre-Med
  • Pre-Law
  • Criminology
  • Theology
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
  • Astronomy

Want to know what all of those fields have in common? Well I will end this post on an interesting and fun fact: Every single one of those majors I listed have been covered by at least some number of philosophical ideas, debates, and theories. In Economics, you might come across Melhus’ philosophical theory of overpopulation and its effect on microeconomic resource distribution, or Hypocrites’ oath on ethical and dutiful medical practices, Descartes’ studies in analytic geometry, or William Wordsworth’s pioneering poem, The Prelude, which helped spark the Romanticist literary era in England, eventually resurfacing in American works by authors such as Walt Whitman. There is also Hobbes’ social contract theory and the justification of an authoritative government, Locke’s theory of socialism which played an integral role in the development of our constitution, and Darwin’s theory on evolution and natural selection, the list is endless. To elaborate, of the authors and theories listed above, I have studied every single one of them and more while working on my degree and knowing that, how can it be said that philosophy cannot supplement any field you choose to study?

Of Possible Interest:

Read Michael’s other posts

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