What does the data say about philosophy in the workplace?

Philosophy leads to real-world success

Australian data from QILT (Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching) generated from their suite of government endorsed surveys, show that students who study philosophy are successful in the workplace when measured against various key indicators. The graphs below provide real evidence of the benefits that students actually receive, which oppose common stereotypes. 

Skills Development

To begin with, when asked how satisfied students were with the development of their skills as a result of their chosen major, philosophy students ranked exceptionally high. In our skills document we outline five core skills that philosophy students acquire, and demonstrate how these skills contribute to success in the workplace. 

Median Income

While stereotypes often claim that philosophy graduates end up in low-paying careers, the reality is quite different. When compared against 54 other majors, philosophy graduates came out slightly above average. They had the 24th highest median income for undergraduates 4 to 6 months after completion of their course. While philosophy scored above majors such as economics, finance, and psychology, the variance between most majors can be seen to be relatively insignificant. What the data shows is that students can study philosophy and will be able to get a good job, with an income comparable to graduates from other majors. 

Graduates who enter into further study

Graduates who enter into further full-time study are typically those earning advanced degrees. Advanced degrees help students to build stronger skill-sets, and generally lead to higher paying careers. Among the majors surveyed, philosophy undergraduates were the third most likely to enter into further full-time study, only behind those in medical sciences + technology and biological sciences. 

Philosophy takes people in a wide-range of fulfilling directions.

So, what careers can philosophy lead to? The data shows that philosophy undergraduates end up in all sorts of careers. And this makes sense — philosophy develops broad skills that are applicable in whichever pathway that you choose. For those that choose to enter into further study, career paths can be seen to narrow, with a greater number of graduates entering in teaching-related positions and other professional work. For further insight on career pathways, we suggest that you view our graduate profiles, which shine a spotlight on individual cases.

Those who gain an undergraduate philosophy degree enter the following occupations

Those who gain a postgraduate coursework philosophy degree enter the following occupations

Those who gain a postgraduate research philosophy degree enter the following occupations

International data.

Australian data is not alone in demonstrating the success of philosophy graduates. For instance, according to research in the United States of America (US), by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, lifetime median income of philosophy graduates was higher than any other humanities major — including the highest starting salary, and highest percent increase between starting and mid-career salary. Data from the US Educational Testing Service shows that philosophy graduates are also extremely successful in Graduate Record Examinations (often required for undertaking postgraduate study in the US). They score higher than any other major in Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing sections, and higher than any other humanities major in Quantitative reasoning, putting them at the highest ranking major overall in the GRE. The same is true for LSAT examinations (required for law school). They also rank among the top majors in GMAT examinations (required for business and management). Further data in the United Kingdom and elsewhere renders similarly supporting results.