… if I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that’s how integrated it is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today.
— John Kerry, United States Secretary of State, August 7, 2013
Philosophical issues touch on every aspect of life — including issues about what sort of creatures we are and could become, what we can know of ourselves and others, how we should treat one another, whether we are capable of forming a better society and what that would look like, and the significance of our mortality… A philosophy education introduces students to captivating ideas and perennial questions while imparting crucial skills of analysis, argumentation, clarity, and precision. In its capacity both to stimulate and to discipline the imagination, training in philosophy empowers students to enter any career, while enriching their entire lives by opening up new avenues of thought and fresh possibilities for living.
— Seana Shiffrin, Department Chair, Dept. of Philosophy, UCLA
Philosophy changes lives. Over the years, hundreds of students have told me that taking one of my courses has changed the direction of their life, leading them to live in accordance with values that they would not have had, or perhaps would not have articulated if they had not taken the course. Some of them have then pursued different careers, or changed what they eat, or what they spend money on (or donate money to). What subjects other than philosophy can do that?
Peter Singer, Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University and the University of Melbourne
So… what good is a degree in Philosophy and Religion?
We’re glad you asked!
The following are some great places to look for reassuring answers to some of your deepest questions about the value of a Philosophy and Religion degree.
Note that while many of the answers are about degrees in philosophy, the same skills one develops in philosophy courses make the answers equally applicable to a degree in Philosophy and Religion.
- Students develop highly sought-after skills, get to think about important questions, and achieve high test scores on tests required for law school, business school, and grad school.
- Many movers and shakers in contemporary America were its students.
- It’s what future business leaders need.
- Philosophy majors are the highest-paid graduates, relative to other humanities majors.
- Business executives care less about the majors of their hires, and more about the exact sort of skills that the study of Philosophy and Religion helps to develop.
- Its majors are “changing the world of business.”
- “I think, therefore I earn.“
- Philosophy develops the well-rounded set of aptitudes needed to thrive in various aspects of life.
- Three testimonials about philosophy’s practical value
- Here’s what some well-known philosophers have to say about the value of philosophy.
- Why having a philosopher in the office is good for business
- Why businesses are hiring philosophers
- A famous investor: “Had I not studied philosophy I would be a completely different, and probably worse person than I am.”
- A U.S. Treasury Secretary: “Philosophy Prepared Me for a Career in Finance and Government.”
- “Businesses looking for perceptive thinkers are looking for philosophy majors.”
- Philosophy provides protection against a robot taking over your job.
- Some of the careers you can have with a philosophy degree.
- An analysis by economists confirms the value of a liberal arts degree.
- John-Hopkins University’s President speaks eloquently about the practical relevance of a humanities degree (including one in philosophy or religious studies) in today’s world.
- A degree in philosophy or religious studies is a cause of, not just correlated with, higher standardized test scores.
Here are some great graphs and charts illustrating the value of a PHRE education.
For those looking for advice about non-academic opportunities with a PHRE degree, check out the American Philosophical Association’s “Beyond Academia” webpage.