Best Philosophy Programs in the US: Philosophy is one of the most underappreciated majors in a liberal arts college. It is an engaging and broad field of study, and its graduates can expect rewarding careers.
With a median salary of $82,000, philosophy is the humanities bachelor’s degree that earns the most from the beginning to the end of one’s career, according to a recent survey of over 1.5 million college graduates.
The critical thinking, research, academic writing, and debating skills that philosophy programs stress are highly sought after by businesses in a variety of industries.
Best Philosophy Programs in the US
The 10 best philosophy programs in the US are listed below. This list’s approach was developed as a “averaged” & aggregated rating.
Learn more about the top ten philosophy programs in the nation by reading on!
Over 65 books have been written by the faculty network at Duke University’s philosophy department, including Emotion and Virtue, Neuroscience and Philosophy, and Clean Hands? Philosophical Lessons from Scrupulosity. The department’s undergraduate enrollment in philosophy is around 100.
A profound understanding of subjects like deductive logic, metaphysics, and ethics is required of undergraduate students by the school’s learning objectives, which are part of its 11 philosophy and affiliate degrees.
All philosophy majors will write a number of analytical essays, and if their GPA qualifies, they are urged to submit a senior honors thesis.
For philosophy majors, there are numerous summer study options available in fascinating places like Switzerland and Greece.
There are many programs and centers at Duke University that are solely concerned with philosophy, including the interdisciplinary “think tank” Kenan Institute of Ethics, which works to advance moral deliberation in the field of policymaking.
The philosophy department at Notre Dame is the biggest in the country. The university is committed to fusing religion and reason because it is a Catholic institution.
Every semester, more than 150 students enroll in philosophy classes, and the department frequently appears on rankings of the top 20 philosophy departments in the English-speaking world.
Before choosing a specific area of study, all philosophy majors take three core courses. Undergraduate courses usually take the form of small, seminar-style discussions with no more than 15 people. Honors majors are required to finish a one-year senior thesis under the guidance of a faculty advisor.
The only program of its kind in the country, one of Notre Dame’s newest multidisciplinary majors in philosophy, physics, and mathematics is perfect for students who want to combine STEM studies with ethical considerations.
Philosophy graduates from Notre Dame have good employment chances. Within six months of graduation, 97% of graduates maintained full-time jobs, enrolled in graduate-level courses, enlisted in the US military, or created start-up businesses.
8. Yale University, (New Haven, CT)
The Academic Philosophy Statistics and Analysis has placed Yale’s philosophy department top among 143 peer departments.
The three divisions of the school’s philosophy program are the history of philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology, and ethics and value theory.
Typically, 12 credits in addition to electives in subjects like linguistics, political science, and the classics are needed for philosophy majors.
Students majoring in philosophy might sign up for a seminar to fulfill a senior requirement; in this case, they produce a final paper while working together in small tutorial groups to get feedback and improve their writing.
Students may anticipate a rigorous revision process at Yale because the university places a strong emphasis on critical thinking and academic writing in its curricula.
The department frequently plans special activities for undergraduate students, like the Colloquium Series.
Every three to four weeks, visiting philosophers from major universities like Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Rutgers, and others talk on the Yale campus about a variety of philosophical subjects.
7. University of California Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
UCLA takes pride in maintaining a reputation as one of the top-ranked doctoral philosophy programs in the United States. UCLA is one of two institutions from the west coast represented on our list.
Among other concentrations, it has special strengths in the philosophy of law, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mathematics.
Declared philosophy majors finish 13 courses in history, semantics, ethics, and metaphysics after taking four requirements.
Undergraduates are eligible for a number of awards, including the Kalish Prize, given to one or more of the department’s top undergraduate students, and the Gloria Rock Award, given to members of underrepresented groups planning to pursue a graduate degree in philosophy.
Students can participate in the undergraduate philosophy club, which meets every Tuesday night to hold talks, publish articles in the journal Meditations, participate in club-to-club disputes, and more outside of the classroom.
Attending the Being in the World series, which features weekly interviews with two alumni, is beneficial for those who are interested in finding out what careers are available for philosophy majors.
Past visitors have backgrounds in education, software engineering, urban studies, and user experience design.
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6. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
The philosophy program at Stanford pays particular emphasis to interdisciplinary topics in conjunction with the departments of literature, science, gender, and sexuality studies, to mention a few.
Students majoring in philosophy can select between the subfields of philosophy and literature or philosophy and history and philosophy of science. A separate dual major in philosophy and religious studies is available.
The philosophy department at Stanford stands apart from its rivals thanks to a number of related academic programs. The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society conducts interdisciplinary research on moral issues in relation to real-world social issues.
Recent lectures on subjects including “AI and Human Values,” “Living in Utopia,” and “How an Epidemic Becomes a Story: Storytelling and Social Crisis in the Platform Age” were attended by undergraduate philosophy students.
The weekly conversations on the Philosophy Talk podcast push listeners to question their presumptions in a lighthearted, welcoming setting.
At the institutions on this list, many alumni land teaching positions. Some of them might even visit Stanford again to appear on podcasts.
5. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
There are four concentrations available to undergraduates, the majority of which have 16 prerequisite courses.
A course like Bioethics, which asks students to think about procreative obligations, selling sperm and eggs, euthanasia, and life-saving cures, would be appropriate for philosophy and science majors.
A student majoring in political and moral philosophy might enroll in a course called The Social Contract where they will study the writings of renowned philosophers like Hobbes, Mill, and Rawls.
Also, they examine other contract theories, objections, and alternatives, like as utilitarianism. Graduates of Penn’s philosophy school go on to have prosperous careers in a variety of professions, including teaching, law, medicine, computer science, and journalism.
By initiatives like the Initiative for Philosophy for the Young, in which students collaborate with K–12 public school teachers to include philosophical concepts into their daily lesson plans, Penn distinguishes itself from comparable universities. The Prison Project provides inmates in the neighborhood with free philosophy and math classes.
Finally, the Galápagos Education and Research Alliance (GERA) promotes conservation in order to defend the Galápagos from climate change.
4. University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The University of Chicago’s philosophy department, one of the oldest in the nation, appointed John Dewey as its first chair.
In the more than a century since his appointment, a number of distinguished academics have served as faculty members, including Hannah Arendt, Bertrand Russell, and Leo Strauss.
Another school on our list, UChicago, emphasizes interdisciplinary study of philosophy.
Courses in psychology, foreign languages, cinema and media studies, and other subjects are recommended for undergraduates.
The German idealism, ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, and Aristotelian virtue ethics are areas of expertise for the philosophy department’s faculty, who are also cognizant of their strengths.
Although the school does not provide courses in Eastern philosophy, it does accept visiting guest speakers who have expertise in Buddhism, Islamic philosophy, or South Asian languages.
Each year, 150–200 University of Chicago students declare philosophy as their major. More than 50% of graduates land jobs in the commercial sector, 20% work as consultants, and many work for charity organizations.
Scholarships like the Seidel Scholars Grant help philosophy majors finish an independent project relating to their field of study so they can apply their knowledge to successful professions after graduation.
3. Columbia University (New York, NY)
Christopher A. B. Peacocke, who has held teaching posts at prestigious colleges like Oxford, Berkeley, NYU, UCLA, and Stanford, is the chair of the philosophy department at Columbia University.
Students who want to obtain 30 credits in subjects including ancient, medieval, and modern philosophy are supported by Peacocke and other prominent academics.
Additionally, undergraduates can choose to major in both economics and philosophy, navigating issues of decision-making, social justice, and group decision-making.
Each student must finish a senior thesis during their last academic year. Under the supervision of a faculty mentor, they select an interesting topic and do extensive research before writing a 30–40 page argumentative paper.
Passionate philosophy majors are drawn to a variety of extracurricular options, such as the Meade Anderson Undergraduate Philosophy Forum.
These open conversations on a range of philosophical subjects are open to all students.
The Gadfly, Columbia’s philosophy publication, also features work from other undergraduates. Its issues contain research papers, interviews, and other articles on subjects like violence, the “philosophical bro” phenomena, and the vocabulary of American political power.
2. Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
The justification of punishment, the interpretation of the wording in the US Constitution, and the ethical issues raised by the climate change catastrophe might all be topics of debate in a Harvard philosophy class, if one were to peek inside.
One benefit of the department is that there are just a few prerequisites, so students can take the courses in any order they think is best for their goals.
Many college students take part in independently funded, self-directed research projects. Undergraduates who are interested in attending Cambridge University in the UK are often awarded 8–12 eight-week summer scholarships by the Harvard–Cambridge Scholarship Committee.
The History of Philosophy Workshop, which meets sporadically throughout the year to debate topics like “Locke on Complex Concepts and Ethics of Belief” and “Leibniz’ Theory of Space and the Newton Affair,” is one of the interesting events that take place at Harvard.
The Embedded EthiCS initiative challenges students to think about whether or not particular technologies should be developed by integrating ethical modules into Harvard computer science courses.
Princeton philosophy majors benefit from small class sizes and engaging conversations on a variety of themes, with 20–30 students in each senior cohort.
Undergraduates join independent work groups in their junior year of study, where they meet once a week to discuss class readings and write a 5,000 word final paper (minimum).
Juniors pick their own topics, get input from their peers, and present their findings verbally.
An undergraduate student’s senior year is spent spending a lot of time writing a 10,000–15,000 word senior thesis on a subject of their choice.
They get ready for both an oral exam on their thesis topic and a cumulative departmental exam at the same time. Prizes for best theses that range from $500 to several thousand dollars are available to students.
The Friday Talks colloquium series is attended by philosophy majors in addition to their curriculum requirements.
Guest speakers are invited from prestigious philosophy departments at universities like Georgetown, UC Berkeley, and the University of Toronto. They are selected by the student and faculty cohort from the previous year.
The philosophy program at Princeton has recently produced alumni who are excelling in stimulating careers as lawyers, human rights officials, professors, researchers, and journalists.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are philosophy majors paid?
Depending on the industry one chooses, the typical compensation for occupations requiring a philosophy degree varies. Depending on their area of expertise, philosophers might earn a variety of salaries. Some jobs in philosophy may pay around $50,000, while others may approach $100,000.
Is philosophy a good major to pursue?
Indeed, for many occupations, a bachelor's degree in philosophy is worthwhile. Professionals with degrees in philosophy frequently possess the ability to use solid reasoning, create intricate, objective arguments, and quickly assimilate, assess, and synthesize new material.
Is it worthwhile to pursue a Doctorate in philosophy?
If you are ready to put in the effort, earning a PhD in philosophy can be a fulfilling and practical step in your career, regardless of your desire to influence academia or work as a scholar at a think tank. It might be difficult to get into graduate programs.
Who is the Father of Philosophy?
One of the most mysterious people in ancient history, Socrates is widely regarded as the father of Western philosophy.
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