Why Study Philosophy?
There are a range of reasons to study philosophy, all of them compelling. First and foremost, the topics explored by philosophers are inherently interesting. We have documented elsewhere in this website the wide array of subjects that philosophers explore. From the very beginning, they have asked the hard questions: What is knowledge? How should we live? Is there a god? Are we free? Philosophy is a discipline that encourages participants to think, to question, and to wonder. On these grounds alone, philosophy is life-enhancing.
But studying philosophy also offers surprising practical payoffs. Philosophy possesses a distinctive methodology in addition to a traditional subject matter. An emphasis on analysis, argumentation, evaluation, and proof can be found in every philosophy class. The habits of mind that philosophy encourages -- logical precision, awareness of the assumptions undergirding any discussion, an attitude of both openmindedness and responsible criticism toward new and unusual ideas - are portable; they carry over to many other endeavors. Thus undergraduate philosophy majors score better on standardized tests (the LSAT, GMAT, and GRE) than many of their classmates, and employers in many fields now actively seek out and welcome philosophy graduates. Philosophy students entering the job market can confidently claim skills applicable to a wide range of non-academic tasks.
Below are links to a variety of websites that set out and amplify the points just made. Please explore them at your leisure.
Summing it All Up: 36 Reasons to Major in Philosophy (Could you come up with this many?)
From the University of Detroit Philosophy Club
The Times of London, "Philosophy as the Quintessentially Modern Discipline" (Aug. 15, 1998)
This brief article makes the important point that philosophy teaches not what to think but how to think:
US News and World Report article "Learn Philosophy"
From 50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009
New York Times article "In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined"
Why so many students are opting to major in philosophy (April 6, 2008)
Report showing philosophy majors scored 2nd best overall on the 2007-2008 LSAT
(after physics/math majors (#1); the philosophers were tied with econ majors!)
Vocational Uses of Philosophy
Web-page "What Can You Do with a Philosophy Degree?" from the Philosophy Department at Illinois State University
Guardian article "I think, therefore I earn"
Why philosophy students are suddenly so popular with employers (Nov. 20, 2007)
New York Times article "Philosophers find the Degree Pays off in Life and in Work"
(Dec. 26, 1997)
Best Undergraduate College Degrees by Salary
Shows that of 50 different university majors, philosophy ranks 16th in mid-career median salary; 7 of the majors ranking above philosophy are varieties of engineering.
How Philosophy Pays Off
A website that offers a detailed breakdown of the marketable skills inculcated in philosophy class
The Teaching of Philosophy
From the APA (American Philosophical Association) series "Statements on the Profession"
This short document indicates both the content and purposes of an education in philosophy and the ideal way such an education should be delivered.
Non-Academic Careers for Philosophers