To Be or Not to Be? Is It Worth To Major in Philosophy

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding personal interests and job prospects are pivotal in selecting the right degree.
  • The utility of a degree in philosophy is highly debated.
  • Balancing personal interests and job prospects might involve compromise.
  • Learning is not always confined to the university setting.

Ryan Fields, a prospective student, is stuck at the crossroads of choosing a university degree, wondering “How accurate is CollegeVine?” and “Can it help me to make such a significant decision?”. Like many, Fields is grappling with a tough question: Is a Philosophy degree worth it for someone who primarily wants to learn to reason properly, think clearly, and form coherent arguments? A subject he is interested in, yet the university he prefers doesn’t offer it. This dilemma reveals a broader issue, the tension between pursuing personal interests and preparing for the job market.

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Personal Interest vs. Practicality

Fields wants to study at the university that suits his location, preferences, and ambitions. However, this university does not offer Philosophy. Robert, an experienced academic advisor, points out the importance of considering future employment when selecting a degree. He suggests that Philosophy could pair well with Political Science, a proposed secondary major for Fields.

“It’s not only about what you want to study, but also what you want to do in the future,” Robert said. He notes that he has known lawyers who majored in Philosophy, which significantly benefited them.

However, Sandra, a business consultant, believes that if Fields is considering entrepreneurial routes or venturing into venture capital, an Economics or Business degree would be more advantageous. Sandra advises, “You can always minor in Philosophy. Communication Studies also wouldn’t be bad to help you develop people-networking skills.”

Skills vs. Diploma

In the age of free access to knowledge, Alex, an entrepreneur, advises Fields to select a major based on desired jobs, not just the skills he wants to acquire. “Degrees are very expensive because they are the only way you can get a job. You can gain knowledge freely, but if you want to be a philosophy teacher, the only way to do it is by getting the diploma.”

Alternatives to Philosophy

Interestingly, Jeremy, a mathematics graduate, shares how getting a math degree developed his reasoning and writing skills. This is primarily due to the demands of writing clear mathematical proofs. The versatility of a mathematics degree also appealed to Jeremy.

Dr. Lisa, a cognitive psychologist, argues that reasoning skills are not always transferrable across disciplines. This perspective might be encouraging for Fields, as it suggests there are multiple paths to develop the skills he seeks, not just Philosophy.

Benefits Drawbacks
Develops critical thinking and reasoning skills.May be seen as less practical or applicable to specific careers.
Enhances abilities in problem-solving and argumentation.Potentially fewer job opportunities directly related to the major compared to other fields.
Provides a strong foundation for further study in law, business, writing, and other fields.Can be difficult to explain the relevance of philosophical training to potential employers.
Fosters skills in clear writing and effective communication.Certain areas of philosophy can be highly abstract and challenging.
Encourages a deep understanding of human thought, ethics, and societal structures.May require additional education (such as a graduate degree) for certain career paths.
Can be personally enriching and fulfilling.May be less financially lucrative compared to other majors (e.g., engineering, computer science).
Some of the most evident pros and cons of Philosophy as a major

Saving on Cost

If Fields is merely interested in learning philosophy without a career goal tied to it, Professor Mark, a community college lecturer, suggests an alternative: “I’d recommend you study it in Community College as an associate if you don’t plan on doing something that requires it for work. Smaller class sizes mean you can have more intimate discussions with a professor.”


Choosing a university degree is often a tough decision, requiring a delicate balance between personal interest and practical considerations. For Fields, and others like him, the key may be found in compromise, exploring alternative paths to their interests, and understanding that the quest for knowledge can extend beyond the university’s boundaries.

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