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Philosophy Major

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Philosophy

811 Master's Degrees Annually
425 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#121 in Popularity (Master's)
$87,140 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Philosophy Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many philosophy graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 811
Doctor’s Degree 425
Graduate Certificate 40

What Philosophy Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to philosophy and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Philosophy Majors

Philosophy majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Skills for Philosophy Majors

When studying philosophy, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Philosophy Majors

A major in philosophy will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Philosophy Major?

People with a philosophy degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Mathematical Science Professors 9.4% $73,230
Mathematicians 29.0% $101,900
Natural Sciences Managers 9.9% $123,860
Philosophy and Religion Professors 12.3% $71,890

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Philosophy?

811 Master's Degrees Annually
28% Percent Women
21% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major tends to be male dominated. About 72% of recent graduates are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of philosophy majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Philosophy Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 29
Black or African American 20
Hispanic or Latino 83
White 480
International Students 107
Other Races/Ethnicities 92

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Philosophy. About 13.2% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • Canada
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany

How Much Do Philosophy Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

The median early-career salary of philosophy students with a master’s degree is $41,900 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $41,900 (25th percentile) and $41,900 (75th percentile).

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We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to philosophy so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

Philosophy majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $82,420 to $104,870 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Philosophy Major  ( 82420 to 104870 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with philosophy may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to philosophy have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 16.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 1.8%
Master’s Degree 29.2%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.1%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 1.6%
Doctoral Degree 42.6%
Post-Doctoral Training 8.0%

Online Philosophy Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 932 schools offered some type of philosophy program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 24 1
Certificate (1-2 years) 4 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 5 0
Associate’s Degree 99 6
Bachelor’s Degree 16 4
Post-Baccalaureate 24 1
Master’s Degree 181 6
Post-Master’s 6 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 110 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Philosophy Worth It?

The median salary for a philosophy grad is $87,140 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 118% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $944,800 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to philosophy.

Major Number of Grads
Religious Studies 1,099
Other Philosophy & Religious Studies 97
General Philosophy & Religious Studies 38

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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