Plato, Socrates and Aristotle may be the most famous names in philosophy, but the field is certainly not something to be left to the ancient Greeks. The modern study of philosophy can develop critical thinking skills and help students explore topics related to how humans interact with each other and the world around them.
Harvard University notes the skills gained by studying philosophy are highly marketable. Philosophy requires students to think logically and write clearly as they look beyond the obvious. Graduates can be employed in industries such as business and education or use their degree as a foundation for advanced studies in law, religion or other subjects.
A bachelor's degree in philosophy is a common level of education in the field although advanced degrees are available. Some schools offer online philosophy degrees as well. Scroll down to the see top schools for philosophy, what you can do with your career and how to pay for your education.
Best Colleges for Philosophy Degree Programs 2018-19
Perhaps since philosophy and religion seem to be complementary fields, many of the best colleges for philosophy degree programs are seminaries or Christian institutions. However, you'll also find quality programs at public schools. The following list was compiled using a methodology considering program prominence, accessibility and other factors.
The top school for philosophy degrees is not for everyone, but it provides an excellent program to those who qualify. The Sacred Heart Major Seminary is specifically for those seeking ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood or diaconate.
Once enrolled, students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. The curriculum focuses on Western philosophical traditions with a special emphasis on the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. A Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil) is also available and can be earned in two years. It is intended for those who already have a bachelor's degree.
Sacred Heart Major Seminary ranks first for its graduation rate and seventh for its program prominence. With a student-faculty ratio of 6-1, there is ample opportunity for personalized instruction.
Holy Apostles College and Seminary is another Catholic institution that excels in teaching philosophy. Its seminary instructs those pursuing ordination in the Roman Catholic Church, but other students are welcome to enroll in programs offered through the college.
While the school's campus is in Cromwell, Connecticut, Holy Apostles College and Seminary has a robust online learning program. Online degrees for philosophy are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The bachelor's degree in philosophy combines the study of philosophy, theology and the humanities. Meanwhile, the master's degree in philosophy offers five concentrations: Christian wisdom, ethics, general studies, history of philosophy and systematic philosophy.
Overall, Holy Apostles College and Seminary ranks fifth for the prominence of its program. It has the second-lowest tuition rate among the schools on this list.
Founded in 1888, the Pontifical College Josephinum has prepared nearly 2,000 men for the Roman Catholic priesthood. As a seminary, enrollment to the school is limited to those seeking ordination, but for those eligible, this is one of the best colleges for philosophy degree programs.
Students can major in philosophy while earning the school's Bachelor of Arts degree. There is also the option for a Bachelor of Philosophy. Finally, a Certificate of Completion in Philosophical and Theological Studies is also an option.
Pontifical College Josephinum is located in Columbus, Ohio. At 5-1, its student-faculty ratio is tied for the lowest among the schools on this list. It also has the fifth most prominent philosophy program among all the schools surveyed.
While the school shortens its name to Franciscan, many of those familiar with the institution simply say they are going to Steubenville. Founded in Ohio in 1946, the Franciscan University of Steubenville describes itself as "passionately Catholic" and "academically excellent."
Its academic offerings include both on-campus and online philosophy degrees. For distance learners, there is an online associate degree in philosophy. On-campus, students can earn either an associate, bachelor's or master's degree in philosophy. The field is also available as a minor. Those majoring in philosophy can apply for an accelerated master's program.
Franciscan University of Steubenville has the fourth best graduation rate among the best colleges for philosophy degree programs. It ranks 12th overall for its program prominence.
Not all the top colleges for philosophy are affiliated with a church. Fort Lewis College is a public institution in Durango, Colorado. The school encourages intellectual curiosity through dynamic programs that are based on a liberal arts approach to the curriculum.
The Philosophy Department at Fort Lewis College blends classes on the history of the field with contemporary theories and practice. Through their coursework, students explore four major areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and logic. Fort Lewis College offers both a major and a minor in philosophy.
The college ranks first among the schools on this list for its affordable tuition and fees. Fort Lewis College is also notable for offering a number of student support services including academic advising and career placement assistance.
Although originally founded as a seminary for those planning to enter the Roman Catholic priesthood, Divine Word College has since expanded to offer educational programs to both laypeople and those considering the religious life. The college has a particular focus on helping prepare people for missionary work.
On its Epworth, Iowa campus, Divine Word College offers a bachelor's degree in philosophy. The curriculum is based on the Roman Catholic tradition of faith and explores current issues through a Christian lens. Students can also choose from electives covering a variety of philosophical thinkers and traditions, such as Gandhi and Asian philosophy.
Divine Word College ties for first when it comes to its admissions rate. The college also has the fourth most prominent program among all the schools surveyed.
Grove City College is an independent Christian institution. Founded in 1876, it prides itself on operating without any federal financial assistance. Over the years, the college has graduated nearly 28,000 students from its Grove City, Pennsylvania campus.
The philosophy department at Grove City College explores the subject through a Christian perspective. Students at the college can choose either a bachelor's degree in philosophy or a minor in philosophy. There is also the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research or participate in internships.
Among the best colleges for philosophy degree programs, Grove City College has the second best graduation rate. The school is also notable for its students support services and small class sizes.
In Miami, the Saint John Vianney College Seminary is another option for men preparing for the Roman Catholic priesthood. With a focus on cultivating diversity, the school offers a bilingual learning environment for both English and Spanish speakers.
The bachelor's degree in philosophy at Saint John Vianney College Seminary is designed for those who have little or no college experience. The four year program takes students through topics such as ancient philosophy, social ethics and metaphysics.
Saint John Vianney College Seminary holds the distinction of having the most prominent philosophy program among all the schools surveyed. It is also tied for first for its admissions rate. Also notable is its student-faculty ratio of 10-1.
Another excellent public school option for philosophy students is SUNY Genesco. As part of the State University of New York system, Genesco has been teaching students since 1871. It is considered one of the premier public liberal arts colleges in the country.
The college's philosophy program is appropriate for anyone who wants the explore life issues or develop critical thinking skills that can then be used in positions within the government, business or social services organizations. A degree in philosophy from SUNY Genesco can also prepare students for law school or graduate work in the field.
Genesco has the third most affordable tuition and fees among the schools on this list. It also has the third best graduation rate of the best colleges for philosophy degree programs.
Valparaiso University rounds out the top schools for philosophy. As an independent Lutheran school, the university has been educating students on its Indiana campus since 1859. It offers more than 70 undergraduate majors, more than 40 graduate programs and is home to a law school as well.
The philosophy program at Valparaiso University covers both Western and non-Western approaches to the discipline. Students can earn a bachelor's degree in philosophy or pursue one of five minors. Available minors cover philosophy, ethics and moral philosophy, history of Western philosophy, philosophy of religion and history and philosophy of science.
While Valparaiso University doesn't offer any fully online degrees for philosophy, it is notable for having more than 150 courses available via distance learning.
Philosophy Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Unlike majors which lead to a few, specific careers, the study of philosophy develops skills such as critical thinking, communication and analysis that can be used in occupations across industries. Many students also use their philosophy degree at a starting point for graduate studies.
Career Outlook for Philosophy Majors
The career outlook for philosophy majors depends greatly on which occupation they choose to pursue after graduation. However, here's a look at the projected growth for some jobs likely to attract those studying the field.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Philosophy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary||$82,420||23,100||12.3%|
|History Teachers, Postsecondary||$83,990||20,510||10.3%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Philosophy
Students won't find many national financial aid programs specifically for the study of philosophy. However, they can apply for most awards designated for the study of the liberal arts or humanities. What's more, colleges and universities may have their own specific awards for students enrolled in philosophy programs, often at the graduate level.
Renewable if recipient maintains stipulated GPA.
November (first week)
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Why Study Philosophy, Harvard University, Accessed February 2018, https://philosophy.fas.harvard.edu/why-study-philosophy-0
- Academic Programs, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Accessed February 2018, https://www.shms.edu/content/academics
- Holy Apostles Degree Programs, Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Accessed February 2018, https://www.holyapostles.edu/degree-programs/
- College of Liberal Arts Formation Program, Pontifical College Josephimun, Accessed February 2018, http://www.pcj.edu/formation-programs/college-liberal-arts-formation-program/
- Philosophy, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Accessed February 2018, http://franciscan.smartcatalogiq.com/en/2017-2018/Undergraduate-Catalog/Academic-Programs/Philosophy
- Department of Philosophy, Fort Lewis College, Accessed February 2018, https://www.fortlewis.edu/philosophy/
- Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Divine Word College, Accessed February 2018, https://dwci.edu/Academics/Programs/B_A_Philosophy.aspx
- Philosophy, Grove City College, Accessed February 2018, http://www.gcc.edu/Home/Academics/Majors-Departments/Arts-Letters/Biblical-Religious-Studies-Philosophy/Philosophy
- Plan of Studies, St. John Vianney College Seminary, Accessed February 2018, http://www.sjvcs.edu/collegiate-track-of-study
- Philosophy, Genesco, Accessed February 2018, https://www.geneseo.edu/philosophy
- Philosophy, Valparaiso University, Accessed February 2018, https://www.valpo.edu/philosophy/
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accessed February 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh