Philosophy offers excellent training for a variety of careers by providing a unique combination of life-long skills: analytic and interpretive skills, critical reasoning skills, the enhanced capacity to detect problems and to solve them, excellence in oral and written presentation and defense of one’s ideas, skill at asking probing and central questions about the ideas of others (as well as about one’s own ideas), skill at effectively understanding, organizing, and evaluating complex systems of thought. (The July 2015 Forbes article about Slack CEO, Stewart Butterfield, is a current example.)
Considering these skills, it is not surprising that philosophy majors score in the very top percentiles on the GRE, LSAT, and GMAT standardized exams. For example, in a recent GRE study, philosophy majors were ranked among the very top majors in their mean scores on the verbal, analytic, and quantitative components of the exam; in a recent LSAT study, philosophy majors had a higher mean score than even pre-law majors; and for recent GMAT tests, the mean score for philosophy majors exceeded that of any type of business major. Virtually no other major does this well on such a wide cross-section of standardized exams.
These results reflect the fact that the unique combination of skills acquired in philosophy, along with the breadth of subject matter reflected on, provide the philosophy major with an extremely adaptive and resilient mind-set. Philosophy provides superior preparation for a variety of vocational and professional endeavors, and perhaps more importantly, for being a professional.
The Career and Professional Success (CaPS) office in the College of Liberal Arts (102C McConnell Hall) helps students establish career goals, explore employment opportunities, and brush-up on interviewing and resume-writing skills. Resources available include vocational interest testing, a computer career decision making package (FOCUS), a job locator program to help students locate part-time and summer jobs, and a network of alumni and parent career advisors. CaPS also coordinates a senior recruiting program (where employers come on campus and interview students that have submitted resumes) and a Career Fair (where dozens of employers are available to meet with students and answer questions). A list of job-related web sites is available from CaPS.