If college students listened to their parents when it was time to choose a major, there probably wouldn't be a lot of philosophy majors. It's not a degree with a lot of obvious practical applications, so your parents could be excused for thinking it's a bad choice. In truth, the mental skills you learn as a philosophy major can be highly marketable in a variety of potential careers.
If you plan to be a lawyer, philosophy might be one of your best undergraduate options. Philosophy majors learn to extract meaningful information from densely written materials, analyze what they've learned and argue their point effectively. Those skills are all supremely useful in the practice of law.
A philosophy degree is also excellent preparation for a career in business. The skills mentioned above, plus the ability to communicate and persuade in person or in print, can take you a long way. Modern businesses drown in data, and managers skilled in extracting and using pertinent information are valuable. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, for example, was a philosophy major.
Philosophy addresses the broad questions of life and meaning, aside from furnishing students with an impressively sharp set of critical and analytical skills. It provides a useful intellectual foundation if you're planning to go on to a divinity degree and a career in the clergy. You'll be in good company. The late Pope John Paul II was a philosophy major.
Programming and Information Technology
Working with computers might seem like a stretch for philosophy students, but there's a stronger connection than you might think. Programming and information technology are all about the orderly, logical, structured flow of information and the ability to analyze it. Those play to a philosophy major's core strengths.
You can put your communication and critical-thinking skills to impressive use in social and community services, as well. Nonprofits, as well as government and non-government agencies, all need skilled communicators for research, counseling and grant writing. Philosophy majors possess the mental clarity needed to manage such organizations.
Medicine and science can create whole new areas of practice and research almost overnight, and that can lead to serious ethical issues. These industries need thoughtful people to help determine when a radical new treatment is justified, or when the risks of a new technology outweigh its benefits. With a background in critical and ethical thinking, a philosophy major is ideally suited to the task.
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