What Does a Philosophy Major Study?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2019
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The course of study for a philosophy major will vary from program to program, but most institutions offer similar tracks for students to gain valuable critical thinking, reasoning, and writing skills. Most students who choose a philosophy major as their course of study often think of the degree program as preparation for future careers in other fields, though many students feel the philosophy degree is more of a preparation for entry into any career field as well as good preparation for life in general. The philosophy student is likely to study philosophical texts and common questions related to the field.

Philosophy as a study can be traced back centuries, and the fundamental questions a philosophy major will tackle will be the same questions that have been debated as long as humans have been capable of thinking. As a college degree, the philosophy major will not prepare a student for a specific career in most cases, though a few students will very likely move onto earning higher philosophy degrees to prepare them for teaching. Instead, philosophy students will develop important skills that will be valuable to any employer, as well as the student himself.


Many students who choose a philosophy major will choose to go on to law school because they have been prepared for this field by the philosophy degree. A philosophy student must be able to read carefully, formulate compelling arguments, write succinctly, and reason through difficult concepts. All of these skills will make the philosophy major a great candidate for law school and the practice of law beyond because these skills are vital to success in the field of law. Analysis and synthesis of information is stressed during a philosophy student's course of study, which can make the student a valuable job candidate in other fields as well, particularly government work, social work, business, and even finance.

It is likely that a philosophy student will spend a fair amount of time reading the works of prominent philosophers, including Plato, Nietzsche, Aristotle, Erasmus, and Machiavelli, in addition to more modern philosophers who write about different schools of thought. The student will also likely spend a fair amount of time developing arguments concerning difficult topics, such as the existence of God, the value of art, the nature of the human being, the meaning of existence, the reasoning behind morality, the idea of religion throughout history, and so on.


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