How do I Become a Philosophy Teacher?

wiseGEEK Writer

The path to become a philosophy teacher tends involves a great deal of study in this area. There are not that many K-12 public schools that teach more than a few philosophy classes, but there are sometimes private schools in these grades that welcome either philosophy or religion experts to teach things like ethics or to give formal religious education. Philosophy and religion might be joined, but the person who would strictly work as a philosophy teacher is best off finding universities that offer a philosophy major.

A philosophy teacher is responsible for grading papers and tests.
A philosophy teacher is responsible for grading papers and tests.

For those who do want to become a philosophy teacher at the K-12 level, and this usually means the high school or prep school level, the best bet would be to acquire an undergraduate degree in the study of philosophy. Most public schools require a teacher to have a credential in order to get work, and credential studies usually take a couple of years of study after getting the undergraduate degree. Private schools may or may not require a teaching credential, but many of them do. To maximize employability in private schools, it’s advised people fulfill credentialing requirements in their region.

Some high schools offer philosophy courses as an elective for students.
Some high schools offer philosophy courses as an elective for students.

A person who would like to find work as a philosophy teacher at a junior college needs to get additional education. Instead of a seeking a credential after obtaining an undergraduate degree, the would-be teacher will need to attend graduate school and earn at least a master’s degree in philosophy. This is not always enough. Some community and junior colleges get so many applicants for jobs that they usually won’t consider applicants for anything more than adjunct work, unless these potential employees possess a doctorate. It really depends on area and demand for jobs in this profession.

For this reason, the person who wants to become a philosophy teacher at any college level may be best served by attempting a PhD or doctorate in philosophy before seeking employment. This can help raise level of attractiveness when it comes to applying for work. The extra studies additionally add expertise and give people opportunities to publish and get known in their field. Moreover, most four-year universities will not consider job candidates who don’t have a doctoral degree.

Within these specific ways to become a philosophy teacher, there is still plenty of room for specializing and learning the things that are of most interest. Some people favor teaching topics like critical thinking, and others are interested in the issues of ethics, logic, or metaphysics. Others have a historical interest in philosophy and enjoy studying the way human philosophy has evolved over time. Teaching work in this area could cross over into humanities teaching work, as does dual studies of philosophy and religion. No matter the main interest, people will have plenty of options for defining a course of study that is unique and fascinating, especially with the advanced studies required to get teaching positions.

Obtaining a doctorate in philosophy may be helpful for an individual seeking to become a philosophy teacher.
Obtaining a doctorate in philosophy may be helpful for an individual seeking to become a philosophy teacher.

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Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - Philosophy lecturers do tend to be interesting people. We had one who never seemed to be able to wear a T-shirt that was less than three decades old and another who I often spotted out dancing in very expensive clothes. Another one was always trying to "rebel against the establishment" and did things like calling one of his classes on philosophy and sexuality Phil-269.

He was awesome though. For our lecture on time travel in my metaphysics class he let us bring in donuts and beer and watch 12 Monkeys, because he said it was one of the few fictional representations of time travel that didn't create multiple issues with paradox.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you want to be a philosophy lecturer, you are going to have big shoes to fill.


@croydon - If you want to teach pure philosophy, though, you really do have to be teaching at university level. And there is plenty of competition for those spots, because there is basically no other job available to people who care about philosophy. You can become a teacher of philosophy, or you can go into a completely different field and that's about it.

Which can be very cool for students, because in my experience we always ended up with amazing philosophy lecturers, each of whom had published multiple books and could argue their way out of any kind of difficulty.


It is still possible to teach philosophy in high school, particularly if you are in a school where students are encouraged to think for themselves. You can teach it alongside almost any other subject, really, as it lends itself to discussions of literature, science, and even mathematics. I did a whole paper on logic at university that was based around mathematics and was also required for students intending to go into computer programming.

At one of the schools I taught at a little while ago, they even had a little extra-curricular philosophy club where the students got together in order to debate and discuss different questions. It was pretty awesome and very good for them.

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