You are here

What can I do with a minor in philosophy?

Useful Skills

Studying philosophy will help you develop a range of important life skills. These include:

  • Developing your ability to reason and think in a clear and disciplined manner
  • Persuade others of the correctness of your positions
  • Make informed value judgments about difficult courses of action
  • Learn to detect mistakes in the reasoning of others and yourself
  • Enhance your ability to communicate clearly
  • Learn to write about sometimes complex and subtle positions in a clear manner
  • Learn to process and understand sometimes complex and technical passages of text

To put the matter succinctly, one reason to minor in philosophy is to get ahead!

Fame & Fortune

A surprisingly diverse range of people have studied philosophy:

  • Harrison Ford, (Actor)
  • Bill Clinton, (President)
  • Rev. Martin Luther King, (Civil Right Leader)
  • Carly Fiorina, (Presidential candidate and former CEO of HP )
  • T.S. Elliot, (Poet and Playwright)
  • Stephen Colbert, (Comedian and TV Host)
  • Phillip Glass, (Composer)
  • Michael McCaskey, (President/Chairman of the Chicago Bears)
  • Max Palevsky, (Co-Founder of Intel and Venture Capitalist)
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize)
  • Ethan Coen, (Filmmaker)
  • David Souter, (Supreme Court Justice)
  • George Soros, (Financier and Philanthropist)
  • Sheila Blair (former Chair of the FDIC)
  • Larry Sanger (co-founder of Wikipedia)
  • Pearl Buck (Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author)

The American Philosophical Association maintains a more extensive list of famous people who have studied philosophy. If you decide to pursue a minor in philosophy you will be in good and diverse company.

Word On The Net Is ...

Interest in philosophy has exploded among those seeking a competitive edge in the job market as business leaders have come to realize the value of philosophical skills:

Contrary to stereotype, philosophers do well in earnings, especially by mid-career:

You may have the impression that philosophers have little concern for practical matters. Sometimes this is true. But think about what that means: we do this well in the job market without even trying. Imagine what you could do with a background in philosophy if you actually cared about money.

On the lighter side, you can listen John Cleese's ads for philosophy.

Thinking About an MBA? JD? PhD?

The GMAT is the standardized test used by universities to assess applicants to graduate programs in business. Philosophy majors, overall, do better on the GMAT than business majors. Philosophers outperform majors in finance, management, accounting, marketing, international business, etc.

The LSAT is the standardized test used to assess applicants to law school. Philosophy majors, on average, perform better on the LSAT than any other Liberal Arts major, including those in criminal justice and political science. In fact, according to The National Jurist (2014), a higher percentage of philosophy majors are admitted to law school than any other major. According to the American Bar Association's statement on preparing for law school, "Preparation for legal education should include substantial experience at close reading and critical analysis of complex textural material, for much of what law students and attorneys do involves careful reading and sophisticated comprehension of judicial opinions, statutes, documents, and other written materials. As with the other skills discussed in this Statement, the requisite critical reading abilities may be acquired in a wide range of experiences, including the close reading of complex material in literature, political or economic theory, philosophy or history. The particular nature of the materials examined is not crucial; what is important is that law school not be the first time that a student has been rigorously engaged in the enterprise of carefully reading and understanding, and critically analyzing, complex written material of substantial length." These kinds of skills are the lifeblood of philosophy.

The GRE is the standardized test used by universities to assess applicants to graduate school in most disciplines. Philosophy majors on average do better than virtually all other majors on the verbal reasoning and analytical writing portions of the GRE.

If you're thinking about graduate school, philosophy should be a part of your undergraduate plans.