Obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy
One thing that is unusual to hear is, "I'm getting my bachelor's degree in philosophy." While a PhD in philosophy makes sense for those who want to teach philosophy on the university level, many people wonder, "What is the point of studying philosophy?" Additionally, they wonder what students do in philosophy classes and ask questions like, "What is philosophy even about?" All of these questions, or ones like them, are likely foremost on the mind of international students who wonder what the purpose and experience of a philosophy student in the U.S. is like.
Before trying to figure out how to apply to undergraduate degree in philosophy in the U.S., potential applicants should first determine if philosophy is a field they want to pursue. It is important to note that a bachelor's degree in philosophy, unlike a graduate degree in philosophy, isn't limited to teaching philosophy. While both undergraduate and graduate students in philosophy study critical thinking, logic, problem solving, and thinking outside of the box, the degrees themselves have different applications. Philosophy is the study of the most difficult questions humanity has been able to develop, and so students studying philosophy in almost any program will graduate from the program with highly developed problem solving skills that are applicable to almost any job. Because of that, students with bachelor's degrees in philosophy find themselves with a surprising number of careers available to them.
Because a graduate degree in philosophy is so focused and expensive, it generally shouldn't be pursued unless the student hopes to work in the field of philosophy, particularly. International students, though, will find that undergraduate degrees in philosophy are far less expensive and provide for a wide variety of career options including writing, journalism, law, politics, teaching, business, and diplomacy. International students will therefore find themselves desirable for numerous careers as philosophy graduates given their unique perspectives and highly developed critical thinking skills through their degree program.
A bachelor's degree in philosophy is not directed at any particular career field, though there are some programs that will offer tracks in a particular kind of philosophy. For example, a student may major in philosophy following a track in ethics, political philosophy, or logic. Students choose a track that best suits the career they want. A track in political philosophy would suit those students who want to pursue a career in politics. A track in ethics or logic may be useful for those students who wish to pursue a law degree. As a matter of fact, many law schools now prefer students with philosophy degrees than political science degrees because of the rigorous training in logic philosophy degrees require.
International students are likely to find bachelor's degrees in philosophy appealing for numerous reasons. First, pursuing philosophy on the undergraduate level is an excellent way to practice and improve both written and spoken English skills. Due to the fact that most philosophy courses are focused on writing papers and discussion in class, students find themselves accomplished communicators by the time of graduation. Philosophy also enables international students to utilize and exploit potential skills in other languages. Philosophy is a field that draws heavily from material originating in countries other than the U.S. So, if a student has skills with other languages, he or she may find those skills valuable as they can access original source material in German, French, Greek, or Chinese.
International students will also find U.S. philosophy programs appealing because of the welcoming environment to foreign students. Philosophy is about learning about the world and asking difficult questions. Philosophers dedicate their lives to learning as much as possible and are in a constant quest for answers. For that reason, philosophy professors are often happy to engage students with new and different perspectives. International students will find themselves very welcome because of the wealth of knowledge and different perspectives they bring to the philosophy program. A bachelor's degree in philosophy not only benefits international students, but the program as a whole.
Philosophy degree programs are looking for students who are willing to study hard and think deeply. Philosophy is the study of the deepest questions humanity has been able to think of. If a student pursues a bachelor's degree in philosophy, she or he should expect to do a great deal of thinking and to constantly question everything. Students are expected to do a great deal of writing and reading in philosophy classes. Through their reading, students are exposed to ideas which they will have to consider and evaluate. An essential component of evaluating those ideas is writing about them. Most philosophy courses, for this reason, require a significant amount of writing. An international student should expect to work hard, write a great deal, and seek tutoring through the university and philosophy department if necessary.
The study of philosophy is the study of questions like, "What is the nature of the universe?" "Does god exist?" "What is right action and how do we know?" and "What is the mind?" Philosophy, unlike almost every other degree field, requires that a student think hard about herself/himself, her/his place in the world, and her/his future. Although a bachelor's degree will not necessarily lead to a "philosophy job" right out of college, a bachelor's degree in philosophy will provide the student with some of the most important knowledge any person can gain. This knowledge is the knowledge of oneself and one's place in the universe. And with that knowledge a student can accomplish any goal.