Of What Use is Philosophy? Find Out with a Philosophy Degree

An online philosophy degree program is a great option for students interested in improving skills in problem solving, logical thinking and debating. Students learn to think through complex problems and rationalize solutions based on morality and effectiveness. Upon graduation, students with an online philosophy degree can look forward to exciting careers in business, academia, public relations, healthcare, journalism and more.

Philosophy Degree Information

Philosophy is at the heart of academia, and is one of the earliest majors offered by long-standing colleges and universities. Students can participate in two-year Associate of Arts programs in philosophy, four-year bachelor's programs in philosophy, master of philosophy degrees that usually take around two years to complete or doctoral programs in philosophy that may take three to five years or longer.

Study Options

A Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy is available at all liberal arts colleges and major universities. This degree can also be earned through a distance learning program online, in some cases in less than the four years that it would take to earn the degree at a brick-and-mortar learning institution. Students who complete the four-year B.A. in philosophy (or in some cases, a Bachelor of Philosophy, or B.Phil.) can proceed to a Master of Arts in Philosophy, a Master of Philosophy, a master's degree in another discipline or a doctoral degree in philosophy or another discipline.

Advanced Philosophy Degrees

Students who choose to pursue a philosophy degree beyond the undergraduate level will usually be focused on teaching philosophy, writing philosophy or doing philosophical research. Master's students in philosophy will almost inevitably go on to pursue the doctoral degree if they wish to continue their philosophical studies.

Masters Degrees

Those who opt for the Master of Arts or Master of Philosophy degree will continue their studies with a more in-depth examination of questions of ontology, epistemology, ethics and metaphysics. These two-year programs are usually a springboard for doctoral level studies in philosophy.

Doctoral Programs

Students who embark on a path to earn the Doctor of Philosophy degree will be expected to produce a dissertation of innovative work in the field of philosophy. Ph.D. candidates will focus on a specific discipline of philosophy and attempt to bring an original idea to that discipline or shed new light on a prior idea. These efforts typically take between three or five years and completing the dissertation may take even longer. Students successfully completing the degree requirements will be qualified to teach philosophy at the university level and will be expected to continue to produce insightful philosophical texts and treatises throughout their career.

Choosing A Degree

Philosophy is literally ìthe love of wisdom,î and students who are constantly questioning the world around them will do well in philosophy. An undergraduate philosophy degree can be the precursor to a career in many fields, including law, medicine, sociology and psychology, so students who are not quite sure where to focus their inquisitive energies may want to pursue an undergraduate degree in philosophy.

Career Opportunities

Those who reach the doctoral level in philosophy will be qualified to teach as a college or university professor and will have the credentials to publish philosophical works in philosophical journals and independently. Philosophy majors can also go on to become medical doctors, lawyers, therapists, political scientists or one of any number of occupations based in logic, intellectual discourse, or inquisitive analysis.

Earning Potential

The median salary for an associate professor of philosophy is about $59,000 a year, while top philosophy professors can make in excess of $90,000 per year. Philosophy majors in other professions can enjoy a wide range of incomes.

Getting Your Degree Online

If you are a continuing education student interested in philosophy, an online degree may be your best choice. Online philosophy degrees can be completed in four years or less without ever leaving your home. All coursework and assignments can be done remotely, from your home computer, and you can even attend lectures online. If your degree comes from an accredited online university, it can carry just as much weight as an education from a brick-and-mortar institution and should be sufficient to qualify you for further education or some entry-level positions that do not require specialized training.

Getting Your Degree Offline

A philosophy degree from a top college or university can be your ticket to a wide variety of careers. Attending a brick-and-mortar institution will give you the opportunity to explore a range of classes and meet professors and students who may share your interests or introduce you to new ones. A Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from a brick-and-mortar institution usually takes about four years to complete, and students will enjoy courses in not only philosophy, but also other areas for a well-rounded education that can inform their future learning and career choices, be they in philosophy or a related discipline. Students attending graduate school at a brick and mortar institution will have the opportunity for intensive, one-on-one study with mentors who will help them develop their original thesis or dissertation in their chosen philosophical discipline.

Philosophy Degree FAQs

What Can I Do with a Philosophy Degree?

Students interested purely in earning a living as a philosopher will likely enter the academic realm as a teacher or professor. Some philosophers also make a living as writers. However, the majority of philosophy graduates go on to work in the corporate sector. Skills learned in an online philosophy degree program are conducive to careers in business management, public service, law and diplomacy.

What Topics of Study Are Covered in an Online Philosophy Degree Program?

Most undergraduate degree programs start with the introduction to ancient philosophy. Far eastern philosophy, German philosophy and other major philosophical movements are also covered.

Other topics of study include metaphysics, ethics, existentialism and epistemology. Graduate degree programs allow students to specialize in a field such as modern social philosophy, medical ethics and political philosophy.

What Skills Are Beneficial When Pursuing a Philosophy Degree Online?

A love for learning and an inquisitive nature are typical characteristics of a philosophy major. Critical thinking, persuasiveness and oral skills are also beneficial to the prospective philosopher. A true interest in human compassion, world events and pragmatism also may be helpful.

What Is the Average Salary for Graduates of an Online Philosophy Degree Program?

The broad range of career paths makes pinning down an average salary for philosophy graduates tough. However, associate professors earn a median annual salary of $59,000, with the potential to make more than $90,000 per year. Graduates entering the corporate world will likely begin with salaries around $35,000 annually. Upper level management positions can earn anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 per year.

Online Philosophy Degree Programs

Philosophy degrees are available at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. levels. Undergraduate degree programs offer an overview of philosophy and provide a foundation for upper level coursework.

Following completion, some students choose to go on to earn a master's degree in a related field, such as public administration. Others choose to continue education with a master's degree and Ph.D. in Philosophy.

Philosophy Student Guide

Philosophy is literally the love of wisdom, and philosophers ask questions about everything from the origins of the universe to meanings of words. Philosophy is the underpinning of many of the social and even hard sciences, and without philosophical principles, many important scientific advances might never have been made.

Philosophy Books

A broad-based philosophy education will require intensive reading and study of many great philosophers. Students will almost invariably need to read the Dialogues of Plato as well as Aristotle's work, be it Nichomachean Ethics, Poetics or Politics. Other books will depend on the program you are in, and students may even be required to read the books of the philosophers in residence at their college or university. These books will be available at the library or bookstore of the school you attend or online. Students should expect to read books on ethics, ontology, history of philosophy and metaphysics.

Philosophy Articles And Databases

If you are looking for articles on philosophy, you should start by consulting the databases and journals available through your school's philosophy program. If that is not sufficient, the Library of Congress has a massive database of philosophy-related articles to examine, from the American Religion Data Archive to E-Journals in Philosophy and Religion to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Online Philosophy Journals

A course of study in philosophy requires a great deal of research, which usually means reading about a lot of different philosophers in journals. An ideal source of philosophy journals online can be found at EpistemeLinks (Epistemelinks.com/Main/MainJour.aspx). Here you will find a link to hundreds of both print and online journals including Ancient Philosophy, Facta Philosophica and Humanitas.

Other Philosophy Research Tools

Students may find useful information pertaining to philosophy at the American Philosophical Society website (AmPhilSoc.org). This site provides information about philosophy prizes, fellowships and a link to the American Philosophical Society Library.

Related Sections

Find the school that is right for you