Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, April 06, 2021

The economy’s in full recession mode. So it’s a good thing that more U.S. college students are opting for that classic non-practical major: philosophy.

Rutgers, which has long had a top-ranked philosophy department, is one of a number of universities where the number of undergraduate philosophy majors is ballooning; there are 100 in this year’s graduating class, up from 50 in 2002, even as overall enrollment on the main campus has declined by 4 percent.

At the City University of New York, where enrollment is up 18 percent over the past six years, there are 322 philosophy majors, a 51 percent increase since 2002…

Nationwide, there are more colleges offering undergraduate philosophy programs today than a decade ago (817, up from 765), according to the College Board. Some schools with established programs like Texas A&M, Notre Dame, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, now have twice as many philosophy majors as they did in the 1990s.

Not that philosophy majors are considered exclusively ivory-tower denizens these days. The critical thinking that this course of study instills is framed as a nimble business skill. Still, when grads go on interviews at leaning-and-meaning firms, having an ethereal major as the starting skill set doesn’t enhance a rookie’s chances.

Hey, I suppose the Phi majors could always fall back on that Sanskrit minor…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/06/2021 10:54:26 PM
Category: Society
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  1. Believe it or not, most philosophy majors I knew from college are reasonably well for themselves. They seem to gravitate towards the same sort of entry-level traineeish positions that business majors do and then specialize on-the-job. I think that the thinking right now among at least some employers is that people that have the chops (or simply the intellectual leaning) to graduate in philosophy can learn to do whatever is required of them. That may change as people start majoring in it.

    Caveat: Most philosophy majors I knew from college I knew from Honors College at my generally unremarkable alma mater, which is likely not a representative example. Even so, Honors College Lit/Art/etc majors did not fare so well unless they had some hard skill to fall back on.

    Comment by trumwill — 04/09/2021 @ 05:50:47 PM

  2. Oh, I believe that philosophy majors can and do hold their own in the job market, per the qualifier I included above. I was just tapping into the traditional stereotype of philosophy being the most impractical of majors — I know that was the running joke when I was in school.

    And, being a political science major myself, I realize I have little license to throw stones. :)

    Comment by CT — 04/09/2021 @ 07:24:40 PM

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