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Who Majors in Philosophy?

Philosophy is a first choice for students who want to develop an ability to think clearly and reason well, and who want to find answers to life's most important questions, such as:

  • Do people really have free will?
  • Can computers think?
  • What is an ethical life?
  • What moral obligations do I have to other people? To nonhuman animals? To the environment?
  • What does identity consist in? What makes a person the same person over time? How should we understand race, gender, and other aspects of identity?
  • Is it possible to know anything with absolute certainty?
  • Does the universe have a purpose? Does life?
  • Is there a God? Does it make a difference if there is or isn't a God?
  • What makes one's life a good life?

If you enjoy deeply engaging discussions about God, reality, ethics, politics and religion, then the philosophy major (or minor) is for you.

What Can I Do with a Philosophy Degree?

Philosophy is very useful as an undergrad degree. If you’re interested in going on to graduate school, law school, seminary, or business administration programs, the skills that you develop as a philosophy major can help you compete for admission to these programs.

Philosophy majors are top performers on both the LSAT and the GRE, and, according to the American Medical School Association, a very high proportion of philosophy majors are accepted to medical school.

In recent years, philosophy majors from Chico State have gone on to PhD programs at top institutions like Stanford and UCLA. Philosophy prepares you not only for further graduate work, but a variety of other fields.

A 2009 study of over 300 CEOs, presidents, and vice presidents revealed that the top two skills that business leaders seek in college graduates are "the ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing", and "critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills", two skills central to success as a philosophy major.

Salary-wise, philosophy majors are tied with mathematics majors for the highest percentage in salary increase from beginning to mid-career salary, with a mean salary of over $81,000 after 15 years on the job.

Chico State philosophy majors have taken jobs at Oracle and other Silicon Valley tech firms, and found careers in business consulting, law, teaching, higher education, counseling, financial advising, public service, humanitarian organizations, and the military.

Philosophy majors include important public figures like David Souter, Angela Davis, Pope John Paul II, and Thomas Jefferson; entertainers such as Stephen Colbert, Harrison Ford, Ricky Gervais, Alex Trebek, Susan Sarandon, and Steve Martin; writers like Ken Follett, Susan Sontag, Wallace Shawn, Kazuo Ishiguro, Umberto Eco, Iris Murdoch, and David Foster Wallace; filmmakers like Terrence Malick, Ethan Coen, and Wes Anderson; and business leaders such as Damon Horowitz, George Soros, Carly Fioina, and Carl Icahn.

Minor in Philosophy

Like the major, the minor can deepen understanding of human nature, human culture, and the diversity of human values, thereby providing an opportunity to address fundamental issues of human concern. The minor improves reasoning skills and the ability to apply complex concepts to real-world experience. Because the minor is relatively unstructured, it allows students a great deal of choice regarding classes taken, and works well with most majors.

Minor in Ethics

Ethical reasoning has application to current social questions and conflicts. Professional organizations recognize the importance of ethics in practice. Students who minor in ethics will gain an understanding of and acquire skill in moral reflection and practice in such areas as parenting, business, food production, technology, politics, and science.

Interested in Teaching?

Chico State philosophy graduates have become university professors, community college instructors, and public school teachers. To teach in a California public school you must successfully complete a professional education program leading to a teaching credential. For details, see a Credentials Advisor.


The philosophy department faculty includes specialists in the central areas of the discipline. Members of the faculty have published important articles, books, and widely used textbooks in philosophy. Current faculty members have earned PhDs from universities such as Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, Brown, Berkeley, Northwestern, and Michigan, and have won awards and fellowships including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Catalog Cycle:20