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Career options for students of Philosophy

Saturday , 13 February 2016

Studying philosophy could be tough and boring, but it is tenacious, nevertheless. Similarly, carving out a career in this stream, entails patience and perseverance

Philosophy ought to be profound. So must be the one, who picks it up as a career option. Great thinkers who have philosophised in this world, contributed immensely in the evolution of this concept, which originally was introduced by the great Greek thinker Pythagoras.

From the teacher-student troika of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle to Fredrick Nietzsche, and Rabindranath Tagore, philosophers around the globe have always influenced thinkers, leaders, scientists and statesmen. Thus, at times, impacting the very doctrine with which the world is governed.

Most commonly, defined as a subject that delves deep into general and fundamental issues related to existence, knowledge, reason, mind and language, philosophy covers a wide range of human matters that are sometime, beyond reasoning.

Not only, therefore, studying philosophy can get you a job yearned by many, it can also contribute in overall development and evolution of mankind. This is one reason why there are not many pursuers of philosophy, but the ones who do, are way ahead of their contemporaries in both, their professional and personal lives.

Often seen as a boring and unyielding career prospect, the ones who do choose to study philosophy are well versed with a deep understanding of all existing issues. Subjects in philosophy courses include politics, logic, ethics and religion. By studying a wide range of subjects, one gets to choose from the many linked fields associated with the subject. Also, a trained professional in philosophy develops the ability for reasoned arguments, effective communication through reading, speaking and writing.

Simply put, if you have a flair for intellectual debates & discourse and are ready for a more challenging prospect than other conventional courses, being a philosopher, though tough, is not a bad career option.


Some of the commonly known specialisations in philosophy are Anthropology, Epistemology, Religion, Politics, Mind, Mathematics, Logic, Ethics, Philology, Political Philosophy, Aesthetics, Philosophy of Mind and Metaphysics, just to name the important ones.


At the undergrad level, one can go for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Philosophy, both being three-year degree courses. A student can also opt for a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Arts (Honours) degree in Philosophy, after having successfully obtained a bachelor’s degree.

The duration of the master’s course, is generally for two years. For higher studies and deeper knowledge of the subject, one can pursue an M. Phil followed by Ph. D, in the same discipline.

Those who maybe working or may not have time to attend regular classes, can also go for a bachelor’s or a master’s programme in Philosophy, from open universities like IGNOU and Annamalai.


In order to be eligible for admission to a bachelor’s degree course, a student must clear higher secondary school certificate education from a recognised school. A specific stream at the school level is not a pre-requisite for this course, as one can pass 12th with any combination of subjects, to pursue a degree course in philosophy.

Job Prospects

Though, those qualified in philosophy should not expect any tailor made job opportunity, they can, mostly, think of progressing in the fields of writing, teaching and researching. However, with corporatisation of almost everything in this day and age of capitalist economies dominating the world, one can look for a job in sectors like HR, consultancy, student affairs, public service, journalism, research, diplomacy, insurance, public relations, policy analysis, world politics and social work.

Many students of philosophy go for civil services and other government jobs and qualify easily, because of their knowledge on a wide range of subjects and issues.

Moinuddin Ahmad, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia, who completed his Ph. D in West Asian Studies recently, after obtaining his master’s degree, is pursuing a course on comparative religion. He told TGI: “I may not have done a BA or an MA in philosophy. But that is the beauty of this subject. It is in everything, everything is in it. I benefited a lot from this course and plan to pursue philosophy, from a religionist perspective in future.”

Ahmad further added: “While dealing with philosophy in any way, one must not expect quick results, but life-changing ones.”

Top Colleges

Some of the top rated colleges to study philosophy are: Christ College, Bangalore; St. Xavier’s College and Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi; Madras Christian College, Chennai; Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi; University of Mumbai; St. Joseph College and Loyola College, Bangalore; and Fergusson College, Pune.


The Director of Studies in the Philosophy Department of continuing education at Oxford University, Marienna Talbot was once mentioned to have stated in an article: “I doubt that philosophy has ever been a suitable career, if money is what you are after.”

Still, those who have pursued philosophy or similar related streams have, quite often, made a decent life for themselves.

While there are no enviable salaries for those who study philosophy, the ones who are employed as journalists, writers, columnists and corporate advisers, earn not less than Rs 50,000- Rs 60,000 per month.