Bachelor’s in Philosophy Program Guide
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A bachelor's degree in philosophy is a four-year program that focuses on questions about religion, law, science, politics, and morality. Philosophers ask tough questions, like "Does God exist?" and "What is the meaning of a good life?"
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), annual tuition and fees for four-year schools cost an average of $16,647 for the 2019-20 school year. That comes to an average of $66,588 for a four-year degree. This amount does not include room and board.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2019, people with philosophy and religion degrees earned a median wage of $55,000, and 57% held advanced degrees. Payscale reports the average annual salary for those with a bachelor's degree as $66,000 and the average for those with a master's degree as $78,000. But salaries for philosophy and religion degree-holders depend on job title, location, and employer.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Philosophy?
Although the median salary for philosophy and religion degree-holders is lower than the average for all bachelor's degrees, $55,000 exceeds the U.S. median salary of $41,950 for all occupations, as per the BLS. People who love philosophy may enjoy pursuing a bachelor's degree in philosophy.
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in philosophy work in many fields with various job growth projections. They may become software developers, teachers, or business managers. In addition, some philosophy majors go on to earn advanced degrees in education, law, business, or medicine.
A bachelor's degree in philosophy requires about 120 credits and takes about four years to complete. Learners who want to finish faster can take more courses each term or go to school year-round.
A philosophy degree encourages students to think hard about where they fit into the world. It helps them develop strong reasoning, analytical, and communication skills, which students can apply in any line of work. The degree also gives students a strong foundation for pursuing a master's or doctorate in another field.
What Will I Learn in a Philosophy Bachelor's Program?
Philosophy students learn to evaluate the arguments and reasoning for areas such as knowledge, morality, and religion. They study deep questions such as "Can we really know anything?" and "Is it ever OK to lie?" Students learn how to use analytical methods to evaluate values, factual claims, and arguments.
Typical courses include topics in philosophy, philosophy of the mind, and the history of modern philosophy. Learners also study contemporary analytic philosophy. Actual required courses vary by school and concentration.
Bachelor's in philosophy program students graduate with the ability to reason well, apply the concepts of logical theory, and explain the philosophical positions taken by various historical figures. They can point out the major issues in different philosophy areas and summarize the primary arguments for each position.
Most schools that offer a bachelor's degree in philosophy offer a bachelor of arts degree. However, schools may also offer a bachelor of philosophy degree that focuses more on philosophy and less on the other humanities.
The general philosophy concentration exposes students to coursework from both theoretical and practical philosophy. It also covers the history of both modern and ancient Greek philosophy. Students learn about logic, ethics, and political philosophy.
Law and Justice
A concentration in law and justice focuses on ethics and law. Students take courses such as philosophy of law, professional ethics, and healthcare ethics. They get a strong foundation in the philosophies that guide law and justice.
This concentration requires an equal number of credits in philosophy and the humanities or political science. The curriculum matches philosophy courses with the humanities. It concentrates on the history and practice of practical philosophy.
Philosophy and Science
The philosophy and science concentration requires equal units in philosophy and natural science, social science, or science, technology, and society. The curriculum balances the sciences and philosophy.
Political and Moral Philosophy
The political and moral philosophy concentration focuses on the philosophy of questioning what is normal. It covers law, politics, morality, and ethics. Students take contemporary value theory, history of philosophy, and theoretical philosophy courses.
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What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Philosophy?
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in philosophy work various jobs, including software developer, secondary school teacher, and entertainment or recreation manager. They can also find work as an elementary school teacher or a business manager. To work as a teacher, students must earn their teaching certificate in the state in which they want to teach after completing their bachelor's degree.
Bachelor's in philosophy graduates may also pursue an advanced degree. Options include a master's in education, a master's in business administration, a juris doctor degree, or a doctor of medicine degree.
Popular Career Paths
- Web Developer
- Elementary, Middle, or High School Teacher
- Business Managers
- Business Administration
- Marketing Professional
Popular Continuing Education Paths
- Master's in Business Administration
- Master's in Legal Studies
- Master's in Educational Leadership
- Juris Doctor
- Doctor of Medicine
How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Philosophy?
According to the BLS, people with philosophy and religion degrees earned a median salary of $55,000 in 2019. However, graduates can pursue many jobs with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. Median annual salaries depend on the position. For example, some philosophy majors work as high school teachers. These teachers earned a median of $62,870 per year in 2020.
Other common job titles among philosophy graduates include web developers. These professionals earned a median salary of $77,200 per year in 2020, according to the BLS. Graduates can also become business managers. Median annual wages varied from $56,590 for food service managers to $151,150 for computer and information systems managers in 2020.
How Do I Get Into a Bachelor's in Philosophy Program?
To get into a bachelor's in philosophy program, applicants must submit an undergraduate application to their chosen colleges and universities and pay any application fees. They can often use a program such as Common App to submit all of their applications at once.
After applying, candidates most likely provide official transcripts from their high school and any colleges or universities they've attended. GED certificate-holders may need to submit a copy of their certificate or official test scores.
Many schools require test scores from college entrance exams such as the ACT or SAT. Prospective learners may also need to write a college application essay or ask their former teachers or work supervisors for letters of recommendation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Philosophy Programs
What is philosophy?
The word philosophy means "love of wisdom." Philosophy involves applying wisdom to life's questions to attempt to determine their answers. Philosophers ask, answer, and make arguments for their answers to the basic questions of life.
Philosophers also study ethics, attempting to determine what defines "good" and what differentiates right from wrong. They use philosophical tools such as logic and reasoning to study questions about morality.
Is a bachelor's degree in philosophy worth it?
One way to determine whether a degree is worth the cost is to consider the cost and use your current and projected salaries to determine how long it would take to recoup your investment in the program.
For example, let's say your four-year program costs $65,000 in tuition and fees, $40,000 in room and board, and $100,000 in lost wages. That's a total cost of $205,000. You can then find the difference between your current salary and your projected post-graduate salary. Then, you can divide the program's cost by your difference in annual salary to learn how many years it may take to earn back your investment.
What are the benefits of studying philosophy?
There are many benefits to studying philosophy. First of all, you improve your ability to think logically and critically. You also gain better reasoning skills and improve your ability to analyze and solve problems. In addition, you improve your communication and writing skills.
By studying questions, you learn to differentiate good questions from bad questions. You also learn how to break down complex questions into simpler ones. Asking questions helps eliminate prejudice and improve thinking skills. Philosophy students learn to see the spiritual and intellectual connections between themselves and other people.
How much does it cost to get a bachelor's in philosophy?
According to NCES data, tuition, fees, and room and board at a four-year institution cost $28,775 on average in 2019-20. That amounts to $115,100 for a four-year degree. But the actual amount varies by school. In general, public schools charge less than private schools, and in-state tuition costs less than out-of-state tuition.
However, there are exceptions, and it pays to shop around. Some schools offer in-state rates to out-of-state students who attend classes online. Check how much out-of-state schools charge before dismissing them as options.
Is philosophy a good career?
Many philosophy graduates apply the communication and thinking skills they learned in their program to their careers. That said, many degree-holders pursue jobs in fields other than philosophy. They work as teachers, business managers, or web developers. Some graduates pursue law school to become lawyers.
Graduates may need to learn additional skills or gain teaching certification to qualify for a job. They should think about what type of job they want before deciding if a bachelor's degree in philosophy is right for them.