What Can You Do With a Philosophy Degree?
We like to keep in touch with our graduates, some of whom have pursued their academic and career interests to distant parts of the globe. Their stories provide the best answers as to what one can do with a Philosophy Degree.
Some of our students continued their study of philosophy at the graduate level. Our graduates have earned PhDs at Queen's, Western, Waterloo, University of Wisconsin and the London School of Economics. Others have pursued graduate work in cognate disciplines such as English, History, Political Science, Women's and Gender Studies, Education and Cultural Studies.
Others returned to the lecture theatre as professors. One of our graduates is a philosophy professor at Concordia; another is a history professor at Lakehead. Still another - following completion of graduate degrees in physics and mathematics - teaches biostatistics in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, Seattle.
Several of our Philosophy students have pursued professional studies following graduation; they have gone on to law school, one is now a professor of law at Osgoode Hall. Two of our graduates have gone to medical school: one at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine; the other at the University of Ottawa. Still others have left the academic world for careers in business and in government, working in fields such as software development and human resources management.
While generations of philosophy students have found the study of philosophy is its own reward and the source of a lifetime of intellectual pleasure, an education in philosophy will serve you well no matter where your professional life may lead.
With its emphasis on development of reasoning skills, a background in philosophy is useful preparation in various professional fields, particularly law, journalism, computer programming, health care, business and education. Many philosophy students combine their philosophy studies with that of other disciplines. The Philosophy Department offers double majors with English, French, History, Indigenous Learning, Political Studies, and Psychology; and concurrent education Primary/Junior on Thunder Bay campus.
The value of philosophy as a foundation for professional life is evident in the results of standardized graduate admission tests like the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), where philosophy students often outperform their peers from other disciplines in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing (logic). Recently, philosophy students attained the highest GRE score amongst all disciplines in the verbal reasoning and analytical writing categories and the highest scores in quantitative reasoning of any students in a non-mathematical discipline.
The following selected articles offer insight into choosing an education in philosophy:
- New York Times "In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined."
- U.S. News and World Report "Learn Philosophy: The classic discipline can help with contemporary dilemmas and modern careers."
- The Globe and Mail "Arts graduates are best prepared for the unexpected."
- Yahoo Finance Blogspot Top/Best/Most "A philosophy degree earns more than an accounting degree."
The Law School Connection
This September, Michael Poirier (HBA Philosophy 2018, MBA 2019) will begin study at Harvard Law School. Illustrious alumni of Harvard Law include two US Presidents, including Barack Obama, twelve Attorneys General of the United States, thirty-eight US Senators, 34 members of the US House of Representatives, and 18 members of the US Supreme Court (including three current members). Of his time studying Philosophy at LU, he says:
"I may be biased, but I don't believe that there's any better undergraduate preparation for law school than a philosophy degree. The critical thinking, reading comprehension, and writing skills you'll develop provide a strong foundation for success in the law school admissions process and, from what I've been told from other lawyers and law students, in law school and a future legal career. For example, being able to detect the difference between a valid and invalid argument, read a dense text and understand what can and can't be inferred from it, construct a logically coherent argument, and generally pay attention to detail in your reading and writing are all invaluable skills that you'll develop in philosophy and that will serve you well in a legal environment as well as in your life outside of one."
We wish Michael all the best in his time at Harvard. However, Michael is just one of many LU students over the years who have chosen to study law following completion of a Philosophy undergraduate degree.
Rheanna Geisel (HBA Philosophy/Psychology 2019) is currently studying Law at Western University. Commenting on Philosophy as a foundation for studying law, she says:
“Studying philosophy at Lakehead helped prepare me for law school in more ways than one. Philosophy improved my critical thinking skills, analytical thinking skills and helped me understand the components of a logical argument. I have been able to distill the complex concepts and questions that law school has thrown my way. The close-knit philosophy program at Lakehead also allowed me to connect with my professors and colleagues on a personal level. Learning how to build lasting relationships has prepared me for a profession where the importance of networking cannot be understated.”
Jasmine Kruschel (HBA Philosophy 2017) practices law in Thunder Bay with Carrel & Partners:
“When it comes to law school, you can choose to get an undergraduate education in any subject. While this freedom of choice can be exciting, it can also lead to decision fatigue and be quite overwhelming. The best advice I can give in making this decision is to choose something that will set you up for success and prepare you for law school: philosophy.
As many can attest, philosophy pairs very well with law school. In my experience, the education I received in my philosophy courses prepared me wonderfully for the particular style of teaching, learning, and even more importantly, testing your knowledge, which are most prevalent in law school (and on the LSATs). Further, given the core beliefs and structures underlying legal system derived from some of the key philosophers taught at LU, a philosophy degree also prepares you for the broader concepts and ideas that you will be presented with in your first year.
Overall, if I had to do post-secondary education all over again, I can say with certainty that I would not change my undergraduate degree choice.”
Karen Drake completed her HBA in Philosophy at Lakehead before earning an MA in Philosophy at Queen’s and a J.D. at the University of Toronto. After teaching law at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at LU, Karen joined the faculty at Osgoode Hall Law School. Of her study of Philosophy as preparation for the law, she comments:
"The education I received from Lakehead's Philosophy Department was integral to my success in law school. In my Philosophy courses, I learned how to think critically and analytically, which are foundational skills for engaging in legal reasoning and formulating legal arguments. To this day, I still rely on the tools I acquired during my studies with Lakehead's Philosophy program to develop compelling legal arguments."
The following selected articles offer further insight about the benefits of philosophy as preparation for law school:
- American Philosophical Association "Philosophy Student Performance on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)."
- Huffpost "Why Philosophy Has Been Central to Legal Education for More Than a Century."