Value of a Philosophy Degree: Graduate School Preparation

Grad School Preparation

Philosophy majors performed SUBSTANTIALLY better than average on EACH of the graduate admissions tests surveyed. Not one other group of majors shows this consistent pattern – not even economics or the physical sciences, whose majors did exceptionally well in some areas but only marginally better than average on the verbal portion of the GRE. Biology majors performed better than average on all tests, but the margins were consistently smaller than those of philosophy majors.

SOURCE:  US Department of Education studies

GRE  (Graduate Record Exam)

“I credit my success to my ability to logically think through problems and my writing skills, both items I attribute to my philosophy classes.”

Kim Feazle, Philosophy Major and Financial Analyst, Hill & Knowlton

Philosophy majors rank FIRST among ALL MAJORS on the verbal section of the GRE.  In fact, with an average score of 589, philosophy far outdistances the major degree (English) with the second highest average (559).

Philosophy majors rank FIRST among ALL MAJORS on the analytical section of the GRE.  This should be no surprise, given the emphasis on critical thinking and analytical reasoning.

Philosophy majors rank FIRST among humanities majors and ninth among all majors on the quantitative (mathematical) section of the GRE.  With an average score of 636, only students in majors such as engineering, mathematics, physics and economics did better on this portion of the exam.

Required for graduate study in a number of areas, the GRE consists of verbal and mathematical reasoning, much like the SAT or ACT exams taken by high schoolers, but it also contains questions on logical/analytical reasoning.

Want a major that will prepare you very broadly for whatever kind of challenge you might face later in life? All things considered, averaging the rank order in each of the areas of the GRE, Philosophy does better than any other major of the 50 listed. Tell that to your Mom and Dad, when they ask what good a philosophy major is!

LSAT  (Law School Admissions Test)

“When I went to law school, I was told by all my professors that they were going to teach me how to ‘think like a lawyer.’  I soon found out that I already knew how to do that; I had learned to do so as a philosophy major.”

John S. Paul, Philosophy Major and Attorney (Bryan, TX)

Philosophy majors rank FIRST among all majors in law school acceptance rate: 82.4%.

Philosophy majors rank FIRST among all majors in LSAT score:

Major LSAT score Compared to Average
Philosophy 157.0 +4.7pts
Economics 156.2 +3.9pts
History 154.5 +2.2pts
English 153.5 +1.2pts
Psychology 151.7 -0.6pts
Political Science 151.5 -0.8pts
Accounting 151.5 -0.8pts
Sociology 149.4 -2.9pts
Communications 149.4 -2.9pts
Business Administration 148.2 -4.1pts
Criminal Justice 145.4 -6.9pts

“While no single curricular path is the ideal preparation for law school, you should choose courses that sharpen analytical reasoning and writing skills. Law schools prefer students who can think, read, and write well, and who have some understanding of what shapes human experience.”

– From the Law School Admission Council’s Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools

GMAT  (Graduate Management Admissions Test)

“The quality that Philosophy graduates possess and that is lacking in non-graduates is the ability to examine a selected subject, identify key components and their relationships to each other, and assess the consequences of a component change. It is this analytical ability of philosophers that gives them the edge over their contemporaries in the modern environment.”

Tommy Attaway, Jr., Philosophy Major and Project Management Specialist, Switzerland

Consider the GMAT, which is used for admission to MBA programs and, ultimately, to the highest levels of management.

Undergraduate business students, who you’d think would be especially well prepared for this test, do badly on it, scoring below the average for all test takers.  The best results are by math students, followed by PHILOSOPHY students and then engineers third.