Why Study Philosophy?

To declare a major or minor in philosophy, or to add philosophy as a second major/minor, visit the Advisement Office at CAS 120 or call them at 213-740-2534.

Philosophy Pays

Philosophy prepares you for the kind of rigorous thinking and critical analysis used in a wide variety of fields. You might be surprised at how well the average mid-career salaries of philosophy majors compare to those of other popular majors.

MajorMedian Mid-Career Salary
Economics   $98,600
Computer Science   $95,500
Finance   $88,300
Information Systems   $82,300
Philosophy   $81,200
Political Science   $78,200
Business Management   $72,100
Communications   $70,000
Nursing   $67,000
Biology   $64,800
Psychology   $60,400
Criminal Justice   $56,300
Nutrition   $55,300
Music   $55,000
Education   $52,000
Data collected from the Wall Street Journal.

Philosophy is Interesting

A better reason to study philosophy is that you'll love it. Philosophy asks some of the biggest questions that have ever been asked. A few of the central questions include the following.

  • Ethics. What is the nature of the good, and how should we act?
  • Metaphysics. What is the nature of reality? Does God exist, or free will, or a mind-independent world?
  • Epistemology. What is knowledge, and what distinguishes it from mere belief or opinion?
  • Language. How is it that language expresses meaning? How is it that language comes to refer to the world?
  • Politics and Law. How should society be organized? What is the nature and aim of law?
  • Science. What is science, and what makes it successful? What concepts and methods make science work?

Versions of some of these questions have been investigated for thousands of years. Yet there is an unmistakable sense of progress on these questions, especially in the 20th century, and the investigation continues today.

Philosophy is Great Preparation

Law School

Top Average LSAT Scores by Major
  • Physics/Math (160.0)
  • Philosophy/Theology (157.4)
  • Economics (157.4)
  • International Relations (156.5)
  • Engineering (156.2)

The most common entry exam for law school in the United States is the LSAT. Philosophy majors tend to do better on the LSAT than nearly all other majors, according to a recent study.

A philosophy major has long been recognized to provide a solid background in some of the most important skills required for law school, including analytic and problem-solving skills, critical reading ability, and clear research and writing skills.

The USC School of Philosophy is a particularly strong choice for prospective law school students, in offering a special interdisciplinary Major in Philosophy, Politics & Law. This program is unique of its kind in the country, and is designed (i) to foster an understanding and appreciation of some of the major milestones in the history of Western thought, (ii) to introduce students to leading approaches to ethical, legal, and political problems, and (iii) to acquaint them with one or more broad area of philosophical thought that bears on these issues.

Graduate School

Most graduate programs require prospective students to take the GRE entry exam. Philosophy majors consistently score higher than all other majors on the verbal and analytic writing portions of the GRE, and tend to score extremely high on the quantitative portion as well.


Image: Katrina Sifferd, On the Benefits of a Philosophy Major

Business School

Students who wish to pursue an MBA must first take the GMAT entry exam. Want a strong score? Philosophy is among the 5 best majors for GMAT scores, consistently scoring higher than any business major. If you're thinking about a business major, you may wish to consider philosophy as well. You would be in good company: Sheila Bair, Eva Chen, Sir Ronald Cohen, Carly Fiorina, Gerald Levin, and George Soros are just a few of the prominent business people who hold degrees in philosophy. (For more, see here.)

"Thales" tile painting in the Hoose Library of Philosophy
  • School of Philosophy
  • 3709 Trousdale Parkway
  • Mudd Hall of Philosophy, MHP 113