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Students and parents sometimes hear things like “Philosophy bakes no bread” — meaning (presumably) that it’s not a practical major. One pithy aphorism deserves another: “Man does not live on bread alone!” That might be interpreted as meaning that Philosophy should be seen as a good “second major” as long as your first can land you into a job. And indeed, we do find that many of our students are double majors. The skills and knowledge one learns in philosophy can enhance any other field of study. In recent years, philosophy majors have also pursued majors in biology, classics, economics, environmental studies, mathematics, political science, psychology, among many others. The Philosophy major’s flexibility — both in terms of course scheduling and its customizability — means that it “plays well with others”. 

But it’s also worth noting that the rap that philosophy isn’t a practical major isn’t deserved. While it’s true that Philosophy isn’t a “vocational” major in the way that Accounting or Mechanical Engineering might be, philosophy majors are trained to be exceptional creative and critical thinkers able to tackle new problems and communicate clearly about them. These are transferable and highly sought after skills. As Lydia Frank (senior editorial director at recently pointed out: 

“We hear again and again that employers value creative problem solving and the ability to deal with ambiguity in their new hires, and I can’t think of another major that would better prepare you with those skills than the study of philosophy. It’s not terribly surprising to see those graduates doing well in the labor market. We’ve seen quite a few executives—CEOs, VPs of Strategy—who studied philosophy as their undergrad program.” (The Atlantic, 2015)

Even particular content knowledge obtained through the study of Philosophy is increasingly sought after. The data that PayScale has been collecting suggests that philosophy majors earn more (both early- and mid-career) than all other humanities majors. There’s no one career that philosophy majors are funneled into — our students have gone on to careers in law, medicine, journalism, education, finance, public health, the non-profit sector, and so on. Anywhere that clear thinking, communication, and problem solving is prized, philosophers tend to do well. But don’t just take our word for it (as someone interested in philosophy, we suspect you wouldn’t!): check out some of the news articles and resources below on this theme.

Further Resources

News Stories about Philosophy’s Career Value