Why Major in Philosophy?

The best reason to study philosophy is that you find the questions fascinating and important.  But studying philosophy also equips students with crucial skills, including:

  • Critical thinking
  • Rational argumentation
  • Creative problem solving
  • Consideration of many different perspectives on a single issue
  • Clear written and oral communication on complex topics

As a result, philosophy majors are well-prepared for a variety of graduate programs and careers, including law, medicine, public policy, business, education, and of course, philosophy.

Philosophy and law school: 

Philosophy is an excellent major for those interested in pursuing a career in law. The skills you develop while studying philosophy – such as the ability to think and write clearly and to analyze and present arguments – are highly valued in the legal profession. Philosophy majors typically do very well on the LSAT and have one of the highest rates of acceptance at law schools. Recent Maryland alumni have been admitted to law programs at school such as Harvard, Cornell, Berkeley, and the Universities of Southern California, Virginia, and Maryland. For more information on philosophy and law school, see:

  • An article about how philosophy majors do well on the LSATs here
  • A Prelaw article about how philosophy majors do best when it comes to getting into law school here

Philosophy and medical school: 

Philosophy is also an excellent major for those interested in medical school. Medical schools often look favorably upon candidates with a liberal arts degree, especially from philosophy departments. The requirements of the philosophy major are quite flexible (for example, up to nine credits from a department other than philosophy can be counted towards the major upon department approval), so it is possible to major in philosophy while completing the pre-med requirements. For more information on the benefits of studying philosophy for a career in medicine, see:

  • A Washington Post article by a Harvard medical school professor on the benefits of studying philosophy for a career in medicine here.

Philosophy and graduate school:

Since studying philosophy teaches the skills required for any field that requires rigorous thought, majoring in philosophy provides excellent preparation for graduate study in any field. Recent Maryland alumni have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in fields such as Philosophy, English, Education, and Public Policy. For more information on how studying philosophy helps with admission to graduate school, see:

  • Articles on how philosophy majors do well on the GREs here and here.

Philosophy in the workplace:

In general, majoring in philosophy provides terrific preparation for the work-place, as a recent spate of articles shows:

  • A Washington Post article in which philosophy majors (including a recent UMd alumnus) explain how philosophy contributed to their success here
  • A New York Times article by Rick Rubin (former Secretary of the Treasury) on how philosophy prepared him for a degree in finance and government here
  • Salon article written by a journalist who argues that the most useful classes for her career were in philosophy here
  • A Forbes article about how high-tech companies are eager to hire philosophy majors here
  • A CNBC article explaining why tech billionaire Mark Cuban claims that studying philosophy may be worth more than computer science here
  • A Huffington Post article discussing why philosophy is good for business here
  • A Guardian article on why businesses are hiring philosophers here
  • An Entrepreneur article on why philosophy majors make great entrepreneurs here

Philosophy and earning potential: 

There is a wide-spread belief that philosophy majors do not have great earning potential, but recent articles suggest otherwsie: 

  • A Forbes article on how humanities degrees, and especially philosophy, provide a great return on investment here
  • An Atlantic article on the earning power of philosophy majors here
  • A chart demonstrating that philosophy majors make more money than any other humanities major here
  • A Wall Street Journal list, "Degrees that Pay You Back," showing that philosophy majors have the greatest increase in yearly earnings from starting median salary to mid-career salary here