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The Practical Value of Studying Philosophy

Posted in: Why Study Philosophy?

Transferable Skills

By studying philosophy, students develop cognitive transferable skills that pay off in a variety of professions—transferable skills such as Logical Reasoning • Analysis • Abstract Conceptualization • Problem-Solving • Creative Thinking • Clear and Persuasive Writing • Mental Dexterity • An Ability to Assess Different Perspectives and Frameworks • Information Management.

Earning Potential

The national median salary of Philosophy graduates is higher than nearly every other major in the social sciences, humanities, and higher than many other majors—higher than Psychology, Criminology, Communication, Special Education, Early Childhood Education, Business Management, Political Science, History, English, and so on (data source:


Which professions do philosophy graduates pursue? • Technology • Business • Law • Publishing • Government • Advertising • Journalism • Teaching • Sales • Human Resources • Public Relations • Activism • Public Policy, and so on.

Read about the practical value of studying philosophy

Forbes (2017) – “A Case For Majoring In Philosophy

“Every year, college students choose their majors with an eye toward the return on investment. Among the usual lucrative suspects like finance and engineering, one liberal arts field stands out: philosophy. It turns out that philosophy majors earn significantly more than most majors, especially over the long term.”

“The surprisingly robust ROI [return on investment] for philosophy majors can be traced to its intellectual rigor. Philosophers are taught to seek out the pressure points in arguments and to reason for themselves. They dive into highly technical conversations, construct their own positions and arguments, and analyze relevant problems from multiple perspectives.”

“Beyond finances, the study of philosophy can also help students learn for themselves how they define the good life and how to go about living it.”

U.S. News & World Report (2020) – “What You Can Do With a Philosophy Degree

“Philosophy students learn how to question conventional thinking, which is a marketable skill.”

“A Wall Street Journal analysis of the long-term earning potential of people with various college majors revealed that philosophy majors tend to get raises and promotions more quickly than individuals with other majors, and a result of this rapid career progression is that philosophy majors’ mid-career earnings are usually double the size of their starting salaries.”

• CNBC (2018) – “Mark Cuban says studying philosophy may soon be worth more than computer science—here’s why

“’I’m going to make a prediction’, Cuban told AOL in 2017. ‘In 10 years, a liberal arts degree in philosophy will be worth more than a traditional programming degree’…He views previously lucrative jobs in industries like accounting and computer programming as subject to the powers of automation. To remain competitive, Cuban advises ditching degrees that teach specific skills or professions and opting for degrees that teach you to think in a big picture way, like philosophy.”

Times Higher Education (2019) – “What Can You Do with a Philosophy Degree?

“Philosophy graduates have highly transferable skills that are valuable to employers.”

“Graduates secure work in a variety of disciplines after their degree, such as teaching, PR or politics. Communications, publishing, HR and advertising can be attractive options for philosophy graduates, as well as law, banking, the civil service, business and science. Others go on to further study, research, academia and/or lecturing in philosophy or a related field.”

• Entrepreneur Magazine (2017) – “5 Reasons Why Philosophy Majors Make Great Entrepreneurs

“When accomplished entrepreneurs like Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel and Carly Fiorina credit their philosophy backgrounds for their success, you have to wonder if they’re on to something.”

• New York Times (2018) – “A Wall Street Giant Makes a $75 Million Bet on Academic Philosophy

“Philosophy, he [Bill Miller] added, ‘has made a huge difference both to my life outside business, in terms of adding a great degree of richness and knowledge, and to the actual decisions I’ve made in investing’.”

“Mr. Miller, 67, is not the only old-guard Wall Street figure with a background in philosophy. George Soros was heavily influenced by the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper. Carl Icahn was a philosophy major at Princeton . . . (On the watchdog side of the street, Sheila Bair, the former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, was also a philosophy major.)”

• Harvard Business Review (2014) – “How Philosophy Makes You a Better Leader

“A CEO client . . . found that contemplating the teachings of an ancient philosopher (Socrates) and a 20th century philosopher (Habermas) empowered him to implement an enhanced process of dialogue, consensus building, and ‘communicative rationality’ with his leadership team.”

National Bureau Of Economic Research (2017) – “The Costs Of And Net Returns To College Major

“Health and Engineering majors, where earnings returns are large on a per graduate basis, have per-dollar returns similar to those observed in education, math, philosophy, and language degrees. .  .”

Graduate Study

Some philosophy majors go on to graduate studies in philosophy in order to pursue an academic career. The philosophy major is also exceptional training for many other post-graduate paths, such as law school. In fact, statistics indicate that philosophy majors perform very well on standardized tests for post-graduate and professional study.

  • The GRE (“the SAT for graduate school”) – Philosophy majors come out on top.

“When students are compared by major on how far above average they do on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), a standardized test used in many disciplines to assess applicants to graduate programs, philosophy majors come out on top, according to a new look at test score data over the past few years.” (Daily Nous)