At its core, philosophy is the study of knowledge, existence, and the human condition. It's a discipline that interrogates the nature of reality and the ideas we use to represent it. As a student earning an online bachelor's degree in philosophy, you will learn to break down and synthesize complex ideas in order to form coherent arguments. While it may seem like philosophers are confined to the stuffy halls of academia, the skills you learn as a philosophy student are applicable to almost any career path. From courtrooms to corporate board rooms, analytically minded professionals are able to solve complex problems by applying rigorous methods of argument and persuasion. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, philosophy majors earn the second most out of all fields in the liberal arts and humanities, making it a career path that is both personally and professionally rewarding.

What are the best philosophy programs of 2020? Here are our top 5:

Rank School Location
1 University of Illinois Springfield Springfield, IL
2 Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ
3 The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC
4 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
5 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS

2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Philosophy Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Illinois Springfield

Springfield, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 51%

UIS oversees an online bachelor's in philosophy program that emphasizes analytical skills, the history of philosophy, and different subfields of the discipline. In the program's final semester, all students complete a senior seminar. Degree-seekers can specialize in the area of values or core analytic philosophy.

At UIS, over 90% of undergraduate alumni find a job or start a master's program within one year of earning a degree. Students can learn more about careers and graduate programs on the university's career development website.

Admission requirements include an academic writing sample and a statement of purpose. UIS recommends but does not require 1-3 recommendation letters. Incoming students with an excellent high school GPA and strong standardized test scores may qualify for an automatic full-tuition scholarship.

2

Arizona State University

Scottsdale, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

ASU's online bachelor's degree in philosophy includes required coursework in philosophy of the mind, metaphysics, and the history of ancient philosophy. The program concludes with a capstone project in which students research one of five philosophy areas, choosing from options like rationalism and empiricism.

ASU's career services office provides students with virtual advising sessions, access to Handshake software, and an alumni mentor network. Graduates are prepared to pursue leadership roles in many fields, including law and politics.

Applicants should rank in the top 25% of their high school class, hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, or meet minimum SAT/ACT score requirements. Degree-seekers who do not live in Arizona pay 20% more on tuition. Over 80% of learners at ASU receive some form of financial aid.

3

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

Prospective degree-seekers who want to take asynchronous courses can apply to UNCG's bachelor's in philosophy program. During the program, students develop in-demand skills related to critical thinking and ethics. Additionally, each professor in this program holds a terminal degree. Potential career fields for graduates include law, business, and education.

UNCG provides its students with resources like resume tools, internship opportunities, and networking advice. Students planning to attend graduate school can also access study guides for the GMAT, GRE, and other tests.

First-year applicants must submit high school transcripts and standardized test scores. UNCG provides a significant tuition discount to North Carolina residents. Incoming first-year students can apply for a Blue and Gold Scholarship.

4

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

UArizona's online bachelor's degree in philosophy features courses that cover the philosophy of happiness, medical ethics, and the relationship between minds and computers. The program also features a mandatory specialization in ethics. Alumni can begin careers in law, criminal justice, and medicine.

The university's student engagement and career development advisors support students by promoting jobs on the career center's website and hosting employer information sessions. They also run the Virtual LifeLab — a central hub where learners can improve their interview skills.

Arizona residents with a minimum 3.0 high school GPA receive guaranteed admission, although UArizona offers conditional admission to some applicants who do not meet this requirement. Incoming students applying for merit-based scholarships must submit ACT or SAT scores.

5

Fort Hays State University

Hays, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

FHSU's bachelor's in philosophy program features a 30-credit major curriculum in which degree-seekers select four philosophy electives. Required philosophy courses include general logic, ethics, and the philosophy of knowledge. All students write a senior thesis in their final year.

From 2015-2019, FHSU achieved a 95-96% alumni success rate, which the university defined as the percentage of graduates who found employment or entered a master's program. The university provides learners with access to Handshake software and a four-year career plan.

FHSU maintains more rigorous admission requirements for out-of-state applicants. The university also accepts GED scores and uses a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA cutoff for transfer credit. Both in-state and out-of-state students can qualify for the Tiger Pride Scholarship.

What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's in Philosophy?

A bachelor's degree in philosophy is highly individualized. Students can study a broad range of philosophical, religious, and ethical perspectives from ancient Greek sophistry to Chinese Confucianism. Below is a list detailing the diverse courses possible with this degree. Bear in mind that each school's curriculum may vary.

  • Introduction to Logic: This course distinguishes good reasoning from bad reasoning through analysis of an argument's logic and evidence. By breaking down complex ideas into their constituent parts, logic students are able to reach conclusions about the validity of various arguments.
  • Philosophy of Religion: In this class, students investigate the existence of God, spiritual experiences, and the concepts of good and evil. Class material covers Eastern and Western spiritual traditions and explores their underlying moral assumptions in both historic and contemporary contexts.
  • Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: Students in this course explore the history of both religious and philosophical thought throughout the ancient and medieval world. You will learn how ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle impacted the development of later thinkers such as Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.
  • Existentialism: In this course, students read and discuss the seminal texts of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre in order to ask philosophical questions concerning the nature of existence. Students will gain a clear understanding of the evolution of contemporary philosophy and the traditions that led to it.
  • Science and Philosophy: As an examination of the history of science, this course explains scientific paradigms such as Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection and its impact upon modern society and philosophy. It also investigates the nature of science itself, the scientific method, and the evolution of modern science out of ancient philosophical methods.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Philosophy Degrees

When researching where to earn your online bachelor's degree in philosophy, finding an accredited school is key. Because schools undergo a rigorous review process, accreditation guarantees the value of your education. There are two types of accreditation you should look for when applying to colleges: regional and national. While national accreditation is generally reserved for vocational and technical programs, regional accreditation applies to a broader range of institutions and sets a higher benchmark for academic quality.

Along with the U.S. Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversees regional accreditation bodies in the United States and provides a database of recognized schools and programs. There are also forms of accreditation that are specific to certain disciplines, such as medicine or education. While philosophy has no dedicated accreditation body, you should check with the school you're considering to verify that it is nationally or regionally accredited. This will ensure that your degree is recognized by potential employers and universities, and will also qualify you to receive federal financial aid.

Career Opportunities for Bachelor's in Philosophy Graduates

An online philosophy degree equips you with analytical skills, ethical reasoning, speaking and presentation skills, and writing competency. Such expertise naturally suits careers in business, government, law, and social work. The following list is just a brief overview of the many jobs open to a bachelor's in philosophy program graduate.

Paralegal and Legal Assistant

Paralegals and legal assistants support lawyers by investigating ongoing cases, gathering supporting evidence, writing reports and drafting correspondence, and taking notes during trials and litigation. Paralegals can specialize in particular areas of law, and often work in groups to collaboratively build legal cases.

Median Annual Salary: $45,973

Entry Level: $37,000
Mid-Level: $47,000
Late Career: $55,000

Social and Community Service Manager

Managers of social and community services work to improve the lives of local community members by strengthening social programs and advocating for the local community at the state and national levels. Groups in need of advocacy include children, the homeless, the elderly, students, and military veterans.

Median Annual Salary: $47,993

Entry Level: $41,000
Mid-Level: $51,000
Late Career: $60,000

Minister and Clergyman

These religious professionals support the faith-based needs of a community. While many philosophy majors can go on to become ministers or clergymen, additional education may be required to be eligible for ordination. For example, a master's in divinity is a standard prerequisite for many Christian denominations in the United States.

Median Annual Salary: $49,000

Entry Level: $38,000
Mid-Level: $49,000
Late Career: $58,000

Reporter, Correspondent, and Broadcast News Analyst

These news professionals spread knowledge about current events by researching cutting-edge stories, interviewing key characters and analysts, and interpreting information to best explain serious issues for the general public. Positions exist in television, radio, and increasingly on online platforms such as blogs, vlogs, and internet channels.

Median Annual Salary: $51,052

Entry Level: $33,000
Mid-Level: $44,000
Late Career: $50,000

Technical Writer

Technical writers work across multiple fields, including journalism, business, and the technology industry. They write how-to guides, answer frequently asked questions, review products or issues, and publish journal articles. Technical writers must be clear, concise, and capable of breaking down complex issues for consumers.

Median Annual Salary: $57,549

Entry Level: $49,000
Mid-Level: $63,000
Late Career: $79,000

Bachelor's in Philosophy Salary

Students who graduate with an online bachelor's degree in philosophy can enter a variety of fields that require analytical and problem-solving skills. Though specific salaries vary depending on location and level of experience, the five career possibilities listed below all carry entry-level salaries between $33,000 and $49,000 per year.

Median Salary by Experience Level

Job Title Overall Median Salary Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Paralegal and Legal Assistant $45,973 $37,000 $47,000 $55,000
Social and Community Service Manager $47,993 $41,000 $51,000 $60,000
Minister and Clergyman $49,000 $38,000 $49,000 $58,000
Reporter, Correspondent, and Broadcast News Analyst $51,052 $33,000 $44,000 $50,000
Technical Writer $57,549 $49,000 $63,000 $79,000

Source: Payscale

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Philosophy Program

No matter what online philosophy degree program you end up choosing, you need to figure out how to finance your education. The first step in this process is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will determine your eligibility for grants and scholarships, federal student loans, work-study awards, and some private loans. Always prioritize grants, scholarships, and work-study awards over loans. However, if you need to take out loans, be sure to accept subsidized loans first since they will not accrue interest so long as you are enrolled as a part- or full-time student.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.