Philosophy is a Great Major

"The most valuable class I took at Stanford was called "Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Political Philosophies of the Middle Ages." Each week, we had to distill one of the Great Works of medieval philosophy into two pages -- a two-page, single-spaced paper that rendered all the fat out of a body of ideas, boiling it down to the very essence of its meaning. The philosophies and ideologies themselves certainly left an impression on me. But the rigor of the distillation process -- that's where the real learning happened. It was an incredible, heady skill to master. Through the years, I've used it again and again."

Carly Fiorina
CEO, Hewlett-Packard
Philosophy BA, Stanford, 1976

  1. Philosophy is a challenging major. If you take it seriously, when you get through you will have a disciplined mind with exceptional analytical skills, a clear writing style, the ability to think things through, and the confidence that comes of knowing you can do these things well.
  2. The Philosophy BA is well respected on the job market. A Philosophy BA together with a Business or Computer Science minor is a very good idea. A Philosophy BA together with experience and a professional Master's degree is dynamite!
  3. Philosophy can open you up to yourself, show you alternative ways of seeing the world, and help you develop a solid foundation for personal and intellectual development over the course of your whole life.
  4. Philosophy is something you can come to love. Philosophy majors often say they love philosophy. Students do not drop the Philosophy major.

"Studying philosophy is like waking from a dream; you finally learn the questions to answers you thought you knew. It's more than a discipline, it's a foundation for thought and learning. It prepared and inspired me to pursue other disciplines as well, such as languages and literatures. I am able to apply myself to many areas with the confidence that I am not just knowledgeable in the field but that I am trained in thinking."

Katy Masuga
PhD Program, Comparative Literature
University of Colorado
Philosophy BA, CSUEB, 1996

"The study of philosophy exposes you to a profound intellectual tradition, broadening your perspective on life, deepening your understanding of the questions that are important in life, and -- if you are fortunate -- helping to answer some of those questions. The broad liberal arts education that philosophical study provides, combined with practical training and experience puts one in a very good position with respect to future employment."

Brett Cornell
Manager, Computer Systems Support Department
Lawrence Livermore Laboratory
Philosophy BA, CSUEB, 1986

Is morality relative? Is thinking a process in the brain? Do Christians, Muslims and Jews worship the same God? What are rights? Are colors and sounds in the world or in the mind? Is there a right to universal health care? What is wrong with lying? Is Creation Science really science? What does "true" mean? Do the numbers seven and five have to equal twelve? Why? How do I know the thoughts and feelings of other people? If everything is made to happen by a cause, can human choices really be free? Is affirmative action fair? Are there historical inevitabilities? Which self is really me? If God knows everything and can do everything, how can very bad things happen to very good people? Does science have a scientific method? What is superstition? Why should I care whether something is unethical? Does everything have to have a cause? What makes me the same person from one year to the next? Am I my body? Is a human fetus morally equal to a grownup? What makes one painting better than another? Is there such a thing as human nature? Are "victimless crime" laws unjust? Can a human life be meaningful? Can I know in advance what would make my life a good one? Is time-travel possible? Do women and men have natural social roles? Is it legitimate for one culture to judge the practices of another? Is democracy a good thing? Why? Is there such a thing as objective reality? Are human disputes settled by reason or by power relations? Must biology ascribe purposes to nature? Are women oppressed? Could there be a universe with more spatial dimensions than ours? What is love? Should God be proveable? Why?

Qs: "In hiring decisions, how does your company regard the BA in philosophy?"

Ans: "Interested. Please apply. I like philosophy. We look at the individual"

Mark Drevno
Personel Manager
Datafocus Corporation

Qs: "In hiring decisions, how does your company regard the BA in philosophy together with a minor in a suitable professional field."

Ans: "Very well!."

Daniel Ottaway
District Manager
The Sherwin Williams Company

"For learning how to read and think critically and creatively, philosophy is the best major. With serious study, philosophy can get you in touch with what it means to be a human being. From a practical perspective, as in my case, the philosophy major is a great launching pad from which to pursue a professional education. Learning how to think Ôphilosophically' has served me well in my career."

Henry Sutanto
Public Policy and Management MS, Carnegie-Mellon, 1999
Systems Analyst/Auditor
United States General Accounting Office
Philosophy BA, CSUEB, 1997

"Philosophy helped me grasp how past generations and different cultures have understood their lives. It integrated the variety of subjects I was studying into an education. It improved my ability to form and state my views. The ability to think critically, to problem-solve, to have vision and to interpret complex situations is a definite edge in the global multicultural business."

Paul Rowley
General Manager
Global Inflight Products
Philosophy BA, CSUEB, 1995

"The team of professors in the philosophy department teaches you how to become a critical reader and an independent thinker. They help you develop strong oral and written skills while taking the time to listen to your ideals and concerns."

Edward Miranda
California Single Subject Teaching Credential
Teacher: Alvarado Middle School
Philosophy BA, CSUEB, 1995

"Philosophy was a great major. The ability it gave me to express my thoughts and remain open minded in my dealings with others has been a real help, in my work in the computer field, and in my personal life as well."

Bob McWilliams
CTE/Project Manager
Initio Corporation
Philosophy BA, CSUEB, 1992

"Philosophy is an excellent preparation for law school and it is one of our favourite pre-law majors here at Boalt Hall. We believe it provides an excellent combination of analytical skill-training and writing skills."

Edward G. Tom
Director of Admissions
Boalt Hall Law School

"Philosophy is an excellent major to choose when considering law school. It is the general consensus that Philosophy is a rigorous academic major which tends to produce students who do well in law school."

Akira Shiroma
Director of Admissions
Hastings Law School

"Philosophy majors are given very serious consideration in our admission process because of the writing, critical thinking, and analytical skills used in that major. A Philosophy major provides students with the basic skills needed in law school."

Sharon Pinkney
Director of Admissions
Davis Law School

"We look at courses where the student is challenged and made to think. Philosophy is a very good major as far as Santa Clara University School of Law is concerned."

Jeanette J. Leach
Director, Admissions and Diversity Services
Santa Clara Law School

"The skills I developed as a result of majoring in philosophy widened my field of perception and trained my mind to examine situations on multiple levels. As a result of my experience with the philosophy program my problem-solving skills are keen, my mind is open, and I have the confidence of knowing I can address any issue that arises either professionally or personally. I thoroughly enjoyed the philosophy program, and if I had it to do over I would major in philosophy again."

Monica Pacheco
Legislative Aide, California State Senate, 1998-9
Special Projects Coordinator, Foundation, CSUEB
Philosophy BA, CSUEB, 1998

"We value a degree in Philosophy as much as a degree in Business or Computer Science. We recognize that liberal arts skills bring talents to the organization that are beneficial to our success."

Joan M. Halvey
Recruitment Coordinator
State Compensation Insurance Fund

"We regard philosophy the same as any other degree. Our experience shows that students with work experience do better than anyone with business classes and no work experience. We are interested in candidates who have learned 'how to learn.' We then train our systems 100%"

Dave David
District Manager
Insurance and Financial Services
Farmers Insurance Group

"Philosophy would be a fine major for recreation. Specific experience would also be needed."

Christina Hanson
Recreation Supervisor
Recreation and Parks Department, Alameda

"A candidate possessing a degree in philosophy would be seen as analytical and as an individual who could perhaps process decision making at a higher level."

Suzanne Doherty
Human Resource
Budget Car and Truck Rental

Philosophy can take you anywhere.
The Philosophy Major is great for law school.
The Philosophy Major is great for many vocational MA programs.
Corporations and agencies know about the philosophy major


  • disciplines your thinking
  • improves your writing
  • improves your reading concentration
  • teaches you to put ideas together
  • teaches you to take ideas apart
  • teaches you to hear the other side
  • teaches you to make yourself clear
  • increases your confidence
  • nourishes your spirit
  • shows you a great literature
  • shows you a world of fascinating questions
  • brings you to the life of the mind
  • makes you a deeper person
  • helps you grow, at any age

Philosophy is serious.
Philosophy is challenging.
Our serious students love philosophy.

"My years as a philosophy major at CSUEB were terrific. The interplay of ideas was stimulating and rewarding to me, and has continued to be so to this day. I still read philosophy. The philosophy major put me in touch with a wide range of inquiries and a literature that has occupied me ever since."

Dick Frieden
Financial Consultant
Philosophy BA, CSUEB, 1973