How Much Can You Make in a Philosophy Career?
Unlike degrees like teaching or medicine, a philosophy degree does not necessarily lead to one specific type of job. Rather, philosophy coursework teaches students how to think critically and ask important questions. Graduates can then apply these useful skills to different occupations.
Many philosophy majors continue on to earn advanced degrees, taking their bachelor's as the first step in their higher education plans. Still, other philosophy majors use their expertise to go straight into the workforce. The chart below outlines jobs for philosophy majors, median annual salaries, and expected job growth.
Philosophy remains a staple within academia, so majors often become faculty members at colleges and universities. Professors instruct courses by leading seminars, teaching lectures, and facilitating online classes. They also engage in research and then present their findings at conferences or publish the same in scholarly journals. A bachelor's degree alone, however, does not prepare students for this role; learners must earn a master's degree and Ph.D. as well.
Median Annual Salary: $78,470
Job Growth (2018-2028): 11%
- High School Teacher
Students who want to teach — but who do not desire to earn graduate degrees after their bachelor's — can become high school teachers. Philosophy graduates might teach social studies courses, although private schools may offer philosophy and religious courses as well. Future teachers hoping to work in public schools should consider a double major in education in order to earn their teaching certification. Private schools often do not require state teaching credentials.
Median Annual Salary: $60,320
Job Growth (2018-2028): 4%
- Arbitrator, Mediator, and Conciliator
All of these professionals work in a similar capacity in the legal system, facilitating dialogue between two opposing parties. They work to help people or companies settle negotiations outside of court, meeting with parties separately and together. These professionals do not need a specific degree to find employment, although philosophy majors interested in the legal system may succeed in this line of work.
Median Annual Salary: $62,270
Job Growth (2018-2028): 8%
Legislators work as elected officials who pass laws that represent their constituents. Legislators can work at the local, state, and federal government level. They must organize campaigns in order to become elected, making speeches and meeting voters. Once elected, they conduct research on legislative issues, debate with their peers, meet with interested parties, and propose laws.
Median Annual Salary: $47,620
Job Growth (2018-2028): 5%
Many philosophy students become lawyers, as the profession values several skills learned across the degree. For instance, lawyers must form coherent arguments and debate their opponents in court. They also use their critical thinking skills to interpret laws. Philosophy majors who wish to become lawyers need to attend law school for three years after graduating with their bachelor's.
Median Annual Salary: $120,910
Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%
People with the same occupation, same amount of work experience, and same educational achievement can earn two entirely different salaries. Much of this has to do with geographical location. Certain parts of the country may have a greater demand for a certain type of job. Plus, job opportunities in places with higher costs of living — like large cities — generally offer greater salary potential. The chart below illustrates how salaries and job growth projections for philosophy designers vary in each state.
What Courses Can Be Taken for an Online Philosophy Degree?
A degree in philosophy covers abstract concepts of metaphysics, specific theories from famous philosophers, and the practical applications of philosophy on current political and societal debates. Sometimes schools allow students to concentrate in a certain area, taking courses focusing on religion or jurisprudence, for instance. The chart below offers a sampling of common courses. Keep in mind that each school's curriculum requires different core courses and offers varying electives.
Ethical discussions touch on just about everything: abortion, the morality of war, and capital punishment, for instance. In this course, learners discuss these topics along with ethical concepts like right versus wrong.
The metaphysics field involves abstract principles, such as truth, free will, space, time, and perception. This course explores these topics, investigating deep questions about human existence.
The foundation of modern Western philosophy comes from the ancient Greeks. This course explores the philosophies of these thinkers, including the allegory of Plato's cave and the theory of absolute forms.
Often colleges offer courses focusing on singular philosophers like German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In this course, students learn about Nietzsche's writings on nihilism and the will to power.
Political philosophy digs into the question of what it means to create a just society, usually drawing upon the writings of John Stuart Mill. Students learn about concepts like liberty, democracy, and socialism. They discuss which freedoms society should protect.
How to Choose the Best Online Philosophy Program
You should consider several factors when searching for the right philosophy bachelor's degree online, such as tuition costs, accreditation, course requirements, graduation rates, and faculty credentials. You can research many of these factors online, and you can even reach out to current students and recent graduates to ask them about their experiences. The FAQs below can further guide you in choosing considerations for your degree.
How do I make sure I get a good quality education?
First, look for colleges and universities with regional or national accreditation. Accreditation agencies evaluate higher education schools and programs to make sure students receive a valuable education. Graduate schools and employers often only accept applications from candidates with regionally accredited degrees. In addition, look at professors' credentials and their levels of education. If a large percentage of faculty members hold doctoral degrees and regularly publish their research, you can rest assured that the school has hired experts.
Is a philosophy degree practical in finding a job in the real world?
Like many other liberal arts majors, philosophy students often hear skeptics question the practicality and marketability of their degree. But, philosophy majors gain many transferable skills they can use in the real world. Their debate and analysis skills can prepare them for jobs in politics or public service, and their ability to ask relevant questions can help them become journalists. Many philosophy majors decide to earn a graduate degree too, such as a law degree or a Ph.D. in philosophy. These pathways equip them to work in courtrooms as attorneys or at universities as professors.
What is the best way to choose my philosophy courses?
You must take certain courses required by your college's curriculum plan, but you also get to choose many electives. If you know what career path you want to take, enroll in elective courses that prepare you for your future. For instance, someone hoping to work as a public servant should take political philosophy electives. If you feel less certain about your career choice, you might research course descriptions online and find classes that interest you.
Should I choose a concentration or a double major?
Sometimes a concentration or double major can help students land a specific type of job after they graduate. If you want to become a high school teacher, for example, consider a double major in education and philosophy. Even if you have not set your sights on a profession, choosing a concentration can help you focus your coursework on your interests. However, concentrations and double majors usually come with a more rigid curriculum and fewer elective choices.
How do online classes work?
Every online philosophy school operates differently. Some courses run synchronously, meaning that students need to log on at specific times for lectures or class discussions. Other instructors prefer asynchronous instruction, allowing distance learners to study at their own pace while still meeting some deadlines. Online assignments may include watching pre-recorded lectures, reading articles or books, writing essays, and participating in a virtual class forum.
Can I expect any in-person components to online programs?
Pursuing a bachelor's degree in philosophy online may come with some in-person components. Students may need to travel to campus for orientation, or the curriculum plan might require distance learners to complete an internship. Sometimes, philosophy majors may need to visit the library while working on a capstone project or thesis. However, most schools allow philosophy students to complete coursework entirely through distance learning.
How long does it take to graduate with an online bachelor's degree in philosophy?
Like most bachelor's degrees, a bachelor's in philosophy traditionally takes four years to complete. But degree completion times depend on several factors. On the one hand, students who enroll part time may need extra terms to finish their coursework. On the other hand, students in accelerated online programs may finish more quickly by taking courses year-round.
Scholarships and Financial Aid for Philosophy Programs
Scholarships help you secure funding for your education, and unlike loans, you do not need to pay them back. Not many national scholarships are available specifically for philosophy students, so search for liberal arts and humanities scholarships in addition to philosophy scholarships.
Schools may offer departmental scholarships for philosophy majors, so check with your prospective college's financial aid department to learn about available funding. The chart below can help you get started on your research in this area.
- Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged Essay Scholarship
To enter this scholarship contest, students need to write an essay based on a prompt from the Ayn Rand Institute. The prompts ask philosophical and political questions about Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. The first-place winner of this scholarship contest can win $25,000, although applicants can also win anything from $100-$2,500 as well. Undergraduates, graduate students, and high school seniors may apply.See Scholarship
- Beinecke Scholarship
Philosophy majors who want to continue their education should apply for this scholarship. Eligible candidates include college juniors preparing for graduate school. Applicants should study a subject in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Winners receive $4,000 before entering graduate school and $30,000 while pursuing a higher degree. They must fully utilize the funding within five years of receiving it.See Scholarship
- Betty Rendel Scholarship
The National Federation of Republican Women sponsor this scholarship, awarding three $1,000 awards to undergraduate women. Candidates must study political science, government, economics, or a related field, so students pursuing political philosophy can apply. Applicants should have completed two years of college and possess American citizenship. They should submit their most recent transcripts, three recommendation letters, and an essay explaining why they should receive the award.See Scholarship
- Davidson Institute Fellows Scholarship
The Davidson Institute awards scholarships of $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000. Students can apply if they are 18 years old or younger and they utilize the money for their college education. They must also complete a significant project in science, technology, literature, philosophy, or another specified subject. Applicants might fulfill this requirement by developing an innovative solution for a major societal problem or by submitting a powerful artistic performance, for example.See Scholarship
- Enid Hall Griswold Memorial Scholarship
College juniors and seniors can apply for this scholarship, sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The prize offers $5,000 for students pursuing a degree in political science, history, government, or economics; philosophy students focusing on political philosophy can apply. The scholarship competition does not list a minimum GPA needed to apply, but applicants need a competitive GPA regardless. Although the DAR sponsors this scholarship, both men and women may apply.See Scholarship