What Jobs Can You Get with a Philosophy Degree

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Philosophy degrees can help you develop the skills required for a variety of career options. Learn about the skills you may acquire along with various job opportunities that are typically available after graduating with your philosophy degree.

[Featured Image] A smiling young lawyer who is a philosophy graduate is listening to a discussion with her colleagues during a meeting in an office.

Philosophy is one of the classic disciplines in the history of human knowledge production. A degree in philosophy allows you to gain a wide variety of knowledge in various disciplines, such as law, education, health, finance, and ethics. Philosophy is the study of arguments that leverage critical thinking and research to make a logical case. Philosophy allows you to understand complex topics with independent thought using rhetoric and logic.

This article takes a closer look at the types of philosophy degrees you can earn, philosophy degree careers, philosophy degree salary, skills you can acquire, and steps on how to get a philosophy job.

Types of philosophy degrees

Degrees in philosophy follow a common higher education structure and are found in three main types:

  • Bachelor’s degree in philosophy

  • Master’s degree in philosophy

  • Doctoral degree in philosophy

Let’s look closer at the skills you typically acquire in each degree and the unique opportunities each path can offer. 

Bachelor’s degree in philosophy

A bachelor’s degree in philosophy is designed to provide you with the discipline's basic tenets and skills in critical thinking, writing, and rhetoric. The degree program can help you develop basic argumentative skills to pursue a career requiring a bachelor’s degree or advancing to a master’s or doctoral degree. You might choose to study law further, attend a seminary, or obtain a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Master’s degree in philosophy

A master’s degree in philosophy builds on the principles learned in undergraduate studies. The master’s program introduces more complex ideas and theories by exploring fundamental questions and studying topics like metaphysics and ethics. You typically need to complete a thesis to earn your degree. Those who complete a master’s degree often pursue a doctoral degree in philosophy. 

Doctoral degree in philosophy

A doctoral degree in philosophy is a terminal degree signifying the highest degree available within the discipline. A doctoral degree is the culmination of your independent research that ends with the defense of your dissertation. Completing a doctoral degree typically gives you the qualifications to teach philosophy at the university level. 

What jobs can you get with a philosophy degree? 

A philosophy degree can help you prepare for various jobs in many disciplines. Below is a list of five careers you might choose with a philosophy degree:

  • Professor of Philosophy

  • Clinical ethicist

  • Lawyer

  • Policy analyst

  • Marketing manager

Let’s take a look at the job description, outlook, and average annual salary of each career.

1. Professor of Philosophy 

Average annual salary (Glassdoor): $108,837 per year [1]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 8 percent [2]

Requirements: Typically, a doctoral degree in philosophy is required, but some community colleges may accept a master’s degree in philosophy.  

Professors develop syllabi for classes they teach, instruct students, work with students on their performance in class and publish original research. Becoming a full professor with tenure is a rewarding journey. You usually start as an assistant professor, associate professor, and then professor before being granted tenure based on your research, teaching, and scholarly contributions. 

2. Clinical ethicist

Average annual salary (Glassdoor): $105,479 per year [3]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 7 percent [4]

Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in a field like philosophy, a doctoral degree in bioethics, or a law degree in health law is usually required.

A clinical ethicist advises health care professionals and families in hospital settings when medical ethics issues arise. In this position, you work with health care professionals to maintain and set ethical protocol policies, review medical decisions, and discuss health care problems that raise ethical or moral questions. You also interact with families to communicate complex medical issues and be calm when medical decisions need to be made or questions of patient autonomy arise. 

3. Lawyer 

Average annual salary: $118,066 per year [5]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 8 percent [6]

Requirements: Typical requirements include a law degree, a license from the state you want to practice in, and the passage of a state bar exam.

As a lawyer, you will likely have a range of duties, including providing legal counsel to your clients through evidence and case findings. You may also research various laws and interpret court case findings. You may find work with various clients, from civil suits and governments to corporate and collective bargaining agreements.

Majoring in philosophy typically helps you develop reasoning skills and make arguments that make your acceptance into law school more likely. The study of philosophy connects to lawyers' skills, such as analyzing texts carefully, thinking critically, and challenging a perspective. After studying philosophy, you can apply and enroll in law school to pursue your Juris Doctorate (JD) or Doctor of Jurisprudence. Typical requirements for law school include an undergraduate degree, an admissions test such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume. The entire process usually takes around seven years. 

4. Policy analyst

Average annual salary (Glassdoor): $95,638 per year [7]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 7 percent [8]

Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is typically required, a master’s degree is usually required, and a doctoral degree may be required.

Policy analysts investigate current public policy and its effects on society. You would be responsible for analyzing research and statistics to develop reports and make arguments about whether a policy is having its intended effect on society. You would likely work to communicate your findings to government officials and the public. 

This job requires skills in critical thinking, investigation of an argument’s efficacy, research, and writing skills, making it well-suited for the skills philosophy majors possess. Since much of philosophy deals with the history of knowledge production, you learn about political philosophy throughout time as a philosophy major, helping you develop a range of knowledge to analyze policy. 

5. Marketing manager 

Average annual salary (Glassdoor): $82,768 per year [9]

Job outlook (projected growth 2022 to 2032): 6 percent [10]

Requirements: Typical requirements include a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and potentially a master’s degree, depending on the employer.

Marketing managers create campaign strategies, direct the aesthetic of a marketing campaign, and communicate ideas to clients. In this career, you will investigate and perform market research to find new audiences or places to advertise. Your day-to-day focus will likely be on planning campaigns, managing staff, and communicating with clients. 

As a philosophy major, you will likely have a broad knowledge of aesthetics, culture, and human thought over time, which can translate to valuable skills in creating marketing for brands and businesses. 

Skills for philosophy majors 

Philosophy is a diverse discipline that explores various fields; however, five common fields include aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, and politics.

  • Aesthetics: The study of art and what makes it beautiful

  • Epistemology: The study of knowledge and how it’s produced

  • Ethics: The study of morality and moral implications of decisions

  • Metaphysics: The study of reality, spirituality, and religion

  • Politics: The study of governments and public bodies

With the study of diverse subjects, philosophy majors use a variety of skills to analyze, critique, organize, and communicate with others. Here is a list of essential skills you will typically develop as a philosophy major:

  • Critical thinking

  • Problem-solving

  • Writing

  • Speaking

  • Communication

  • Independent thinking

  • Peer work

  • Flexibility 

  • Research

The skills that you study as a philosophy major can help you become more employable in many fields. Throughout your degree, you should be able to hone the skills needed to think critically about many problems in a complex yet informative way that lets you solve problems effectively. 

How to apply for a philosophy job

Once you receive your degree in philosophy, you can apply for a philosophy job. Here are a couple of steps on how to apply for a philosophy job:

  • Build your resume or CV

  • Search for jobs

  • Apply and practice for the interview

Let’s take a closer look at each step. 

Build your resume.

Building your resume is a great first step to setting yourself up for success in the job market. First, compile your basic contact information. Next, write a brief summary about your time studying philosophy, the skills you have acquired, and how those skills relate to the job you’re searching for. After that, list your work experience, education and degree, achievements, and overall skills.

For doctoral students looking for a position as a professor, the process generally requires a dossier. A dossier includes a cover letter, curriculum vitae (CV), letters of recommendation from mentors and advisers, your teaching statement, syllabi taught, and teaching evaluations. The American Philosophical Association (APA) has compiled a useful list for doctoral graduates. 

Search for jobs.

Searching for jobs can be an exciting next chapter for you. Here is a brief overview of steps to take when searching for jobs:

  • Leverage your network of peers, teachers, and advisors as many jobs fill via referral. 

  • Search for jobs that interest you through job search platforms. 

  • Attend job fairs, which consolidate many companies into one place. Research the companies attending and bring resumes with you. 

  • Use your college career center to help you find jobs that meet your skills and passions, find and create networking opportunities, and craft your resume to make it readable for hiring managers and applicant tracking systems.

If you're seeking a job in academia, PhilJobs has an extensive list of open professor positions across the US.

Apply and prepare for the interview. 

Once you’ve applied to jobs and landed an interview, it’s time to prepare for the interview. A few basic ways to prepare for an interview are to:

  • Research the company.

  • Have a deep understanding of the job description.

  • Analyze your qualifications and how they fit the job description.

  • Rehearse various interview questions with a friend or career coach. 

The interviewing process for teaching jobs is typically longer. Expect at least a first round of interviews electronically and a second round on or near the teaching position’s campus.

Getting started with Coursera

Are you looking to gain the skills necessary to land your next job in philosophy? Try the Interviewing and Resume Writing in English Specialization from The University of Maryland on Coursera. If you have a philosophy degree and want to gain in-demand digital marketing skills, consider the Google Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate, also on Coursera. 

Article sources


Glassdoor. “How Much Does a Professor of Philosophy Make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-professor-of-philosophy-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,26.htm?clickSource=searchBtn.” Accessed March 18, 2024.

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