Philosophy stands out as a prevalent, advantageous, and extensive field. Former NBA coach Phil Jackson, the filmmaker Wes Craven, pop singer Lana del Rey, and Peter Thiel, venture capitalist and co-founder of Paypal, all hold philosophy degrees.
Studying philosophy encourages critical thinking and logical reasoning, often leading intrepid degree seekers to ask and wrestle with big, vexing questions that require a creative and innovative approach. This degree remains ideal for learners who wish to work in the field or in a related industry. Earning a philosophy degree online allows students and working professionals to complete their course of study at a manageable and convenient pace.
Overview of Philosophy Degrees
Philosophy is the broad study of wisdom and knowledge. Philosophers deal with life's most fundamental problems and pressing questions, including the nature of truth and meaning, the use of reason in intellectual inquiry, and the historical evolution of critical ideas, such as happiness, justice, morality, and individual freedom. A bachelor's degree in philosophy allows learners to obtain and practice a core set of critical skills necessary for a career in philosophy and related fields that rely upon the same set of aptitudes.
This degree is ideal for analytical thinkers and creative problem-solvers enlivened by the world of ideas and abstract concepts. The career outlook for those holding an online degree in philosophy remains promising in large part because of the valued and transferable set of skills learned in classes. According to the Washington Post, the number of learners graduating with a bachelor's degree in philosophy has increased by 100% since 1987, leading some noted entrepreneurs to suggest that the value of the degree on the labor market stands to increase in the coming years.
While specific requirements vary by program, the typical application process for an online bachelor's degree in philosophy is fairly straightforward. This process involves an online application with general identifying information and supplementary materials and qualifying documentation. Learners must submit 1-3 recommendation letters from individuals (teachers, supervisors, or mentors) who can speak to the applicant's competencies and their potential for academic success. Additionally, the applicant must provide a brief essay or statement of purpose that outlines their reasons for applying, their program fit, and their future career goals.
Some programs may also require a writing sample. Degree seekers must supply an official copy of academic transcripts. Most schools require one official copy of these transcripts, though some programs may require more. Students can contact their previous schools to obtain official transcripts, which may require a small fee. Transfer students must also provide evidence of credits earned at an outside institution, typically in the form of official transcripts. Finally, prospective students must submit a $50-$100 application fee, which they can potentially waive by demonstrating financial need.
What Will I Learn?
Learners seeking an online philosophy degree acquire working knowledge of a variety of core concepts and problems by studying their origin, history, and evolution in classical texts and their possible application in contemporary social and political contexts. These ideas include metaphysics and theories of knowledge, ethical and moral judgment, empiricism and naturalism, philosophy of language, and general logical reasoning. Students subject these principles to rigorous critique and rational examination to gain insights that might enhance the human experience and contribute to a more just society.
Most schools require 120-125 total credits for an online bachelor's degree in philosophy. These credits are distributed across general education (50-55 credits), area of study (35-40 credits), and free elective (25-30 credits) clusters. Specific course titles and curriculum offerings vary by program and concentration; however, the class listings below represent a typical online philosophy degree.
Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
This course covers philosophy's foundational origins in antiquity, emphasizing its early Greek elaborations. Learners study some of the earliest philosophers, including Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and their predecessors. This course is often a prerequisite for upper-level classes because it provides an introductory overview to basic vocabulary and concepts.
Logic and Critical Thinking
This course introduces learners to the basics of rational inquiry. Degree seekers learn to engage in sound, cogent reasoning and evaluate philosophical arguments in light of common logical fallacies. Students practice crafting premises and constructing proofs in accordance with the principles of formal, modal, and symbolic logic.
Moral and Political Philosophy
This course material focuses on classic systems of ethical philosophy, including deontological, virtue, and teleological models, as well as the conventional political theories to which they relate. Learners examine each model, evaluate their potential merits, and identify instances or events in history where they are at work.
Introduction to Modern Philosophy
Beginning with Rene Descartes and Thomas Hobbes and working up through the Enlightenment and its aftermath, this course provides degree seekers with a high-level introduction to modern philosophy. Learners examine the emergence of the Newtonian self, the notion of skepticism, and other core ideas, such as individual liberty, rationalism, and the modern nation-state.
Phenomenology and Existentialism
This course covers the subdisciplines of existentialism and phenomenology as they emerge in early to mid 20th century. Learners engage with the work of prominent European intellectuals such as Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Edmund Husserl, and Martin Heidegger. Degree seekers compare their texts, evaluate their thought systems, and place them in critical conversation with pivotal antecedents in the ancient and modern periods.
Philosophy of Language
This course outlines the philosophy of language as a discrete discipline separate and distinct from the linguistics and psychology fields. Degree seekers investigate the relationship between language and reality and examine key problems such as the nature of meaning and reference, intentionality, and the performance of speech acts.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy?
Earning an online degree in philosophy teaches learners a valuable set of core skills and practices. These aptitudes and competencies help professionals advance in the discipline. Pursuing a philosophy degree online positions learners as attractive job candidates both within the discipline and in the broader workforce.
Individuals who earn an online philosophy degree acquire unique, indispensable, and broad skills. The marketable and versatile characteristics of the discipline prepare degree seekers for thriving, successful careers in philosophy while also giving them the time and space to hone abilities often prized by organizations and job sectors outside the field. These skills and aptitudes include research expertise, critical and conceptual thinking, analytical problem-solving, abstract and logical reasoning, and accomplished proficiency with the written word.
Much of the intellectual work students undertake in a typical bachelor's degree in philosophy involves meticulous textual research to craft thoughtful, persuasive argumentative essays dealing with abstract concepts. This practice facilitates research skills, as well as critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and technical writing. These comprehensive, high-level abilities constitute the basic building blocks for a future career in philosophy and are skills that serve degree seekers' professional development outside the discipline.
Potential Careers and Salaries
An online degree in philosophy prepares learners for employment in a variety of careers and vocations. While some degree seekers may choose to pursue further graduate education in order to advance a career in teaching, many turn to other job sectors for fulfilling work. Professionals holding a bachelor's degree in philosophy often find employment in the healthcare or corporate industries as ethical consultants, in the legal and journalism sectors as researchers and writers, and in the technology industry as data analysts.
An online bachelor's degree in philosophy also prepares students and recent graduates for work in adjacent industries, such as psychology, sociology, and politics. Regardless of the career path, the broad skill set of this degree puts potential job candidates in an excellent position to enter a growing workforce.
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Psychologists study human behavior and interaction in all its cognitive, emotional, and social aspects. They often conduct research or experiments based on this study and use their findings to improve human development. They work in a variety of sectors, including healthcare, social work, and education.
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Postsecondary teachers conduct research and instruct students in their areas of expertise within rigorous academic settings. They publish their research findings in books and other scholarly publications and contribute to overall higher learning. Most postsecondary teachers work at the collegiate and graduate levels.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Philosophy?
An online bachelor's degree in philosophy prepares learners for a variety of entry-level careers in the field and other adjacent disciplines. However, degree seekers interested in mid-level positions, particularly in education, can explore further instruction or specialization beyond undergraduate studies to remain competitive in the job market. Learners who desire secure, steady work in academic settings typically pursue a graduate degree.
Nevertheless, a bachelor's degree in philosophy provides transferable skills that places learners in an excellent position to advance. Skills and aptitudes such as critical thinking, analytical problem-solving, abstract reasoning, and expository writing remain attractive to potential employers in many job sectors, especially high-level research and general data or information processing. Regardless of educational path or long-term career goals, an online philosophy degree provides learners with many employment options while also instilling a core set of mobile skills that many organizations consider valued assets.
Accreditation for Philosophy Bachelor's Programs
Accreditation remains an important factor when considering any prospective academic program, including philosophy. Accreditation serves as an independent, quality assurance process that ensures that higher education institutions meet acceptable standards of excellence in their programming, curricula, and general instruction. A degree proves only as good as the reputation that supports it, so students must consider schools with appropriate accreditation.
No agencies currently confer programmatic accreditation for philosophy programs. Learners should therefore look for schools with either national or regional accreditation. For example, the Higher Learning Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education bestow accreditation of this nature. These agencies receive their status as reputable accreditation bodies through formal recognition by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education.
Philosophy Professional Organizations
Professional organizations and academic guilds within the discipline provide current learners and recent graduates with opportunities for networking and collaboration. Organizations such as those listed below offer crucial resources and access to the most current information on field developments. Many of these organizations host events, including workshops and annual academic conferences, and provide ongoing support for working professionals in the form of publishing preparation and career advancement.
The American Philosophical Association
Founded in 1900, this association stands out as the country's premier academic philosophy guild. The organization promotes the ongoing exchange of ideas between philosophers and thinkers and encourages continued scholarly activity in the field. The association holds regular meetings and hosts many conferences and events. It provides several prominent field publications and aggregates a large database of professional development resources.
American Association of Philosophy Teachers
This organization aims to improve and advance philosophical education across the United States. It hosts a biennial workshop and conference devoted to this mission and facilitates a variety of education-related seminars throughout the year. The association awards an annual prize for excellence in teaching and supports local philosophy educators in the form of professional development and peer networking.
Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
First instituted in 1962, this organization promotes the study of existential thought, phenomenology, and continental philosophy. The society focuses on contemporary intellectual pursuits within these areas and supports its overall mission by facilitating an annual international conference and disseminating calls for papers. The group also aggregates job boards and career development resources specific to the subfields of phenomenology and existentialism.