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Reasons to Study Philosophy

The Thinker by August Rodin. Photo by Mustang Joe

By Peter Amato, PhD, teaching professor and director of programs in philosophy.

Many people think the most practical route to a successful and satisfying career necessarily leads through a business or STEM-related field. However, studies have shown that many employers value “broad capacities” and skills like creativity and critical thinking over narrow, technical skills. Here are my top 10 reasons why you should study philosophy — one of the best-kept secrets of undergraduate education:

1. Prepare for success in a wide variety of careers.

Philosophical study develops writing, reading, reasoning, re-thinking, adapting, learning, organizing and dialogue skills. In a fast-changing business and technological environment, these are abilities of great practical value.

2. Outscore other majors on standardized exams.

Assessments of analytical, logical reasoning and critical thinking skills are prominently featured in standardized exams like the GRE, GMAT, MCAT and LSAT. Philosophy majors tend to fare exceptionally well on these exams.

3. Gain higher earning potential.

Despite starting off behind better-earning majors at the beginning of their careers, philosophy majors on average out-earn seemingly more practical majors like business administration by mid-career.

4. Be a valuable discussion partner.

Philosophy assists us in understanding what our own ideas are based on, and how they stand in relation to those of others when exploring complex issues.

5. Prepare for a career in law.

Philosophy develops relevant skills like making and criticizing arguments, careful reading of complex texts, and clear, precise writing.

6. Bring perspective to your career.

The really good doctors, engineers and scientists think deeply about their work and its effects on other people and the world. Philosophy classes offer the space to think, write and discuss one’s experiences broadly — not just the “how to?” but also the “why?” and the “why not?”

7. Understand ethical principles and their applications.

Philosophy provides concepts that apply to family, social and work situations — helping us recognize and respond to ethical issues in the real world.

    Sarah Margulis, Drexel University Philosophy Alumni     
Sarah Margulis, BA Philosophy ’16 . Photo by Pete Amato, PhD.

8. Be a more informed citizen.

To be an engaged citizen today requires an unprecedented degree of media and information savvy. Philosophy provides the tools to counter the distorting effects of advertising and propaganda on political and social discourses.

9. Discover your own definition of success.

Philosophy classes present students with the challenge of confronting themselves, their values and their world — what it means to succeed, and why.

10. Don’t be a “yes person.”

Philosophical study encourages critical thinking — an essential aspect of creativity and innovation in the workplace. This takes practice (and sometimes courage).

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