Looking for philosophy major statistics to make a major life decision? Use these enrolment numbers, salary data, and employment figures to inform yourself. They come from only the best sources, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Brookings Institute, and the Federal Reserve Bank.
Find your facts below!
Facts about philosophy major
Use this section to find philosophy major facts about enrolment, degrees conferred, as well as analysis by degree level and gender.
Here you can see bachelor’s degrees conferred in philosophy and religious studies as tracked by the National Center for Education Statistics (the NCES often groups them together for long-term tracking). These numbers are often used as proxies to measure the health of an educational program.
Philosophy degrees conferred annually in the United States have increased 45.8% between 1971 and 2020.
Here you can find the statistics on gender breakdown to compare male vs. female enrolment in philosophy programs (excluding religious studies). In 2019, 65% of philosophy degrees were conferred to men and 35% to women, accounting for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
In the chart below you can see the gender breakdown of each level of philosophy degree, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral.
- Bachelor’s degrees: 63.6% conferred to men, 36.4% conferred to women.
- Master’s degrees: 75.2% conferred to men, 24.8% conferred to women.
- Doctoral degrees: 67.2% conferred to men, 32.8% conferred to women.
There were 7,082 philosophy degrees conferred within the United States in 2019. This is the share of that number for each level of degree.
- Bachelor’s degrees: 84.1%
- Master’s degrees: 10%
- Doctoral degrees: 5.9%
One of the interesting facts about philosophy majors is that, while the share of conferred degrees to women drops from 36.4% at the bachelor’s level to 24.8% at the master’s level, it climbs back up to 32.8% at the doctoral level.
Philosophy major employment statistics
Here you’ll find the most common jobs held by philosophy majors, the industries where you’re most likely to find them, as well as their unemployment and underemployment rates as recent graduates.
Here are quick employment statistics for philosophy and religion majors:
- There are 473,500 philosophy and religion majors in the American workforce.
- 18% of those working majors are employed part-time.
- 66% work in jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree.
Below are the 10 most common jobs for philosophy and religion majors as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|Job||% of grads in job||Job growth, 2020 – 2030|
|Software quality assurance testers||2%||+22%|
|High school teachers||2%||+8%|
|Elementary school teachers||3%||+7%|
|Clerics, spiritual advisors||9%||+3%|
Data from the BLS indicates that philosophy majors have roughly a 2% chance of becoming a CEO, which is the same as English majors, history majors, and even computer science majors.
These are the most popular industries where philosophy and religion majors work:
- Management: 15%
- Education and libraries: 14%
- Community and social services: 13%
- Legal: 10%
- Business and finance: 7%
- Other areas: 41%
Unemployment statistics for philosophy majors seem harsh for recent graduates, but this is common among humanities graduates. You can see the unemployment rate in the bar chart below.
Immediately after graduation, philosophy majors have a:
- 4.3% unemployment rate
- 53.6% underemployment rate
You can see the underemployment rate compared with other traditional post-secondary programs below.
Salary stats for philosophy majors
Philosophy and religion majors do not make minimum wage forever. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that they make a median of $55,000 overall. That puts them in the middle of the median salary range for most humanities majors, as you can see from the bar graph below.
This is how philosophy majors’ median salary compares with other humanities programs in hard numbers:
- Archaeology and anthropology median salary: $66,000
- Political science median salary: $64,000
- History median salary: $60,000
- Philosophy and religious studies median salary: $55,000
- Law median salary: $53,000
- English median salary: $51,000
- Visual and performing arts median salary: $42,000
The Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project provides more granular salary data, recording the median salary for philosophy majors for every year after graduating. It shows that philosophy grads do earn well beyond $55,000 over the course of their lives, even reaching $78,000 at their peak earning power.
Here are the median figures for individual years, adjusted to 2018 dollars.
|Years after graduation||Median salary|
The statistics show that philosophy majors do find gainful employment and do earn reasonable salaries, both in general but particularly as they progress through their careers. Philosophy majors experience high unemployment rates and underemployment rates immediately after graduating, but the data shows that they fill positions tailored to their skills in education, libraries, and quality assurance.
Also check out these statistics pages to round out your research:
Sources: NCES 1, NCES 2, NCES 3, BLS, NYFRB, Hamilton Project
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