Philosophy as Preparation for Graduate School

Philosophy is a highly interdisciplinary area of human inquiry. The study of philosophy as a second major or a minor along with the study of literature, art or a theoretical field (physics, psychology, history, economics, political science, etc.) is an excellent preparation for graduate work in those fields. Philosophy requires the same kind of careful, reflective thought one encounters in graduate school and in research, while deepening and broadening one's understanding of a subject area.

Students majoring in Philosophy and in Ethics and Religion tend to do very well on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The GRE is usually required for graduate school admission. A study showed that of students who took the GRE, those planning graduate study in philosophy scored higher on the verbal and analytic writing sections of the exam than all other students. On the quantitative section, philosophy majors outscored all others majoring in a humanities field and were outscored only by those majoring in fields that required considerable mathematics (e.g., mathematics and physics).

Students who intend to do graduate work in philosophy are strongly recommended to maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher, write a polished philosophy paper, and take the following courses:

  • An upper-division course in logic
  • Epistemology
  • Metaphysics
  • Ethical Theory
  • An upper-division course in the history of philosophy

Competition for admission to graduate school in philosophy is extremely high in the best departments. Majors should plan ahead and discuss their plans with their advisor.