What is a Philosophy Major and is it Right for Me?

Do you like questioning the world around you? Do you like spending hours and hours using logic to reason your way through a problem? If so, majoring in philosophy may be for you.

What is a Philosophy Major?

Contrary to popular belief, majoring in philosophy isn’t about simply sitting on a rock and pondering life’s greatest questions. You will be tackling many broad and abstract questions and using logic and ethics to sort through them but finding a solution isn’t necessarily the endgame. Philosophy majors spend a great deal of their time reading, writing and talking about their ideas, typically in smaller class settings.

What classes do philosophy majors actually take? It depends on your college’s program, but some basic classes involve logic, ethics, metaphysics, political theory, sociology and anthropology.

Is it right for me?

Before you declare yourself a philosophy major, here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I a strong reader and writer? Do I enjoy reading complicated texts and communicating my thoughts and opinions?
  • Am I willing to work on a complex problem until I think of potential solutions, or do I get frustrated easily?
  • Do I handle criticism and feedback from peers and professionals well?
  • Do I like small classroom settings where I’m required to talk several times during each class, engaging in intense discussion throughout?

What can I do with a philosophy degree?

Majoring in philosophy can actually open doors to many other careers. Very few philosophy majors become “philosophers,” but other career paths include:

The overarching theme, however, is that a philosophy major sets people up to tackle big problems and troubleshoot solutions.

What do people who majored in philosophy earn?

While your career trajectory could differ greatly, a recent study found that philosophy majors earn an average of $82,000 when they’re 10-20 years out of college.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Types of Skills Are Best for a Philosophy Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as When to Start Applying for a Summer Internship.

What Types of Skills Are Best for a Philosophy Major?

Philosophy majors do a whole lot more besides sitting in a room and thinking big thoughts. It requires the ability to be a strong reader, clear and concise writer and so much more. What sorts of skills have the best philosophy majors mastered? Here are the top three skills you’ll need to succeed in this major.

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Being good at “logic” is about knowing how to look at a problem and reason through it. Philosophy majors spend lots of time looking at big issues and slowing working their way through the problem to find a solution.

Even if the questions they’re tackling are broad and abstract, the best philosophy majors are those who are dedicated to solving the biggest problems the world has encountered. Even if you won’t actually get to work on those issues during your time in college, understanding how to sort through huge problems is a must.

Reading and writing skills

The philosophy major will challenge your reading abilities, especially because many of the texts you’ll be tackling will be older, very complicated and/or translated from a different language. Thus, the most successful philosophy majors are those who can read quickly and well while taking impeccable notes.

Additionally, philosophy majors must be able to communicate their thoughts in longer papers as well as shorter reading responses. To speak about complex arguments and issues, you’ll have to be able to articulate your arguments clearly and effectively.

Communication and public speaking skills

Philosophy classes tend to be small in nature, so to be a successful major, you’ll have to be comfortable with giving your thoughts out loud to a group of peers and professors constantly. You’ll have to be confident in your ideas while also being willing to hear from others. And because you’ll be speaking often, you’ll have to make sure you’re prepared before you head into class.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is a Philosophy Major and is it Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Ways to Impress Your New Boss.

Career Opportunities for Philosophy Majors

From learning about ancient philosophies to studying various types of texts, being a philosophy major gives you an inside look into some of the issues societies have been grappling with since the beginning of time. But if you’re a philosophy major, you may be wondering about the best way to apply your knowledge and your skills in the real world. For example, what career paths can you embark on with a philosophy major and how can you put your skills to use in those roles?

Here are some of the most common career paths for philosophy majors.


Since philosophy majors spend so much time focusing on big-picture questions and grappling with ethics and ideas, a career in the legal field can be a wonderful fit for them. From working to enact legislative change to advocating on behalf of clients, philosophy majors make wonderful lawyers, paralegals and legislative aides.


Another great career path for philosophy majors is education. With their strong communication skills and knowledge of history and culture, philosophy majors can excel as teachers at both the secondary (middle school and high school) and postsecondary levels (college and beyond).


For those philosophy majors who thrive in a research-focused environment, a career in the research field can also be a great fit. From pursuing a doctorate in philosophy to conducting research projects for a government organization or nonprofit, philosophy majors can excel in a research-oriented profession.


Although philosophy may seem far removed from the world of business, there are a lot of overlaps between the skills philosophy majors use in their classes and those that apply to a business setting. These include critical-thinking skills which are great for identifying operational problems and communication skills which are crucial for running a business.


Like the more general field of business, consulting is a natural fit for philosophy majors since it relies heavily on the ability to assess business challenges and to offer creative solutions. Best of all, consulting allows philosophy majors the opportunity to apply their understanding of big-picture issues in a practical and effective way.

One of the best things about being a philosophy major is that it can help you build a broad range of skills while also giving you insights into how societies function and what they need in order to thrive. These are lessons that can easily be applied to fields like business, consulting and education. The best way to find out which type of career is right for you is to take on an internship in a field that interests you. This will give you the hands-on experience you need to find the perfect job.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is a Philosophy Major and is it Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as When to Start Applying for a Summer Internship.

Types of Internships for Philosophy Majors

A philosophy major is a great opportunity to learn about some of the complex issues we face as individuals and as a society. It’s also a wonderful chance to develop a strong set of core skills including communication skills and the ability to think critically. And because this combination of big-picture ideas and skills translates well into multiple careers, philosophy majors can be found in a variety of different industries including education, research and law. How do you decide which field is right for you? An internship is a great way to explore your options while gaining some professional experience.

Some of the most common internships for philosophy majors are:

Education intern

If you’re thinking of a career in teaching, an educational internship can be a wonderful way to get exposure to life in the classroom. Whether you’re interning at an elementary school or a high school, you’ll learn how to prepare and present information to students, grade papers and structure a lesson plan.

Research intern

Since philosophy majors are trained to think critically and explore new ideas, a research internship can be the perfect way to develop these skills and to discover new areas of interest both within the field of philosophy and beyond it. You can intern at a research organization or apply for a research assistant position at a university department.

Legal intern

Another common career path for philosophy majors is law and being a legal intern will help you learn more about the field while also sharpening your reasoning skills and objectivity. From directly assisting an attorney with their work to researching cases, drafting memos and writing legislation, this type of internship will give you an insight into the perks and responsibilities of working in the legal field.

Policy intern

A policy internship involves conducting legislative research, developing fact sheets, tracking federal legislation, attending congressional briefings and representing your organization in conferences. If you decide to become a policy intern, you’ll keep up with reforms, write and edit reports and support staff with research and analyses of specific issues. Depending on the organization your work for, you could be working towards educational reform, environmental safety or a humanitarian cause. The work you’ll do will strengthen your understanding of the impact and procedures behind policy reform and change.

Junior analyst

Want to branch out into consulting or finance? Working as a junior analyst is a great way to see if these fields are a good fit for you. As a junior business analyst or financial analyst, you’ll identify client needs, assess and evaluate possible solutions and prepare reports on how they can be implemented. You’ll also stay up to date with the latest business and economic trends, which will help you make informed decisions and build up your knowledge base.

Nonprofit intern

For those philosophy majors who are interested in entering the nonprofit sector, interning with a nonprofit could be a great way to get started. In this type of internship, you’ll become familiar with a smaller, sometimes more cohesive environment, take on administrative as well as more specific responsibilities and learn more about causes that are close to your heart. You’ll also be able to use your writing and presentation skills to write reports and grant applications and as well as to come up with presentations for conferences and events.

From learning how to present information to a class of students to understanding how to assess and solve operational problems related to a specific type of business, an internship is a wonderful way philosophy majors to explore their options and figure out the career path that fits them best.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is a Philosophy Major and is it Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What Motivates You?