A 1997 New York Times article examined the issue of philosophy majors and their eventual careers; it concluded, "For all the jokes about them, philosophy majors appear to do remarkably well" ("Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life and in Work," Dec. 26, 1997). Philosophy majors often go on to graduate school in other fields such as seminary, law, medicine or humanities disciplines (indeed, the NY Times reports that philosophy majors are more likely than other majors to go on to graduate school of some sort). In addition to the intellectual history which is studied in philosophy, the methods of rational analysis and critical thinking are cultivated, and such skills are easily transferable to these other fields of inquiry. A study by the National Institute of Education of standardized graduate test scores over several decades has borne out the claim that philosophy majors are among the very best prepared students entering graduate and professional schools. Of all undergraduates only philosophy majors performed substantially above average on all the tests surveyed (LSAT, GMAT, verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE).
Increasingly, other fields like business and computer science are seeing the advantages of hiring philosophy majors (for example, see the NY Times Jan. 10, 1999 article, "To Beat the Market, Hire a Philosopher"). In his 1994 article "How to Get to the Top: Study Philosophy," Thomas Hurka cites a study of philosophy majors in the business world of Canada. He notes that when philosophy majors are hired into managerial jobs, it is usually at a lower rung on the corporate ladder because they lack specific technical skills in finance or engineering. Once hired, however, they advance more rapidly than their colleagues who possess business degrees only. Corporations report that the specific technical skills become less and less important in the mid- and upper-level positions; there the requirements for successful employees include the ability to formulate and solve problems, and to communicate - skills at which philosophy graduates excel.
In a similar vein, a 1995 article published in the Institute for Christian Leadership's internet journal Faculty Dialogue was entitled, "Training Leaders: Can Philosophy Help?" Here too the case is made that the study of philosophy promotes necessary skills of effective leaders in any field. These include the ability to read and write critically, to understand the subtleties of complex problems, to comprehend the strengths and weaknesses of various viewpoints and to persuade and motivate. In the study of philosophy, it is not hoped that these skills will be caught or absorbed in the process of doing other things-they are the stuff of which philosophy is made. Philosophy courses are designed to improve such skills in a systematic way. These skills are in great demand in all areas of employment open to college graduates.
And, of course, there is always the career of being a professional philosopher-teaching others to love wisdom too.