Is majoring in philosophy right for you? After graduating do you want to:
go to law school ?
go to medical school ?
go to business school ?
go to graduate school ?
stop going to school and get a job ?The data below are all collected over a specified time period and in some cases covering relatively few test takers. Drawing broad conclusions on the basis of what is provided below may not be warranted.
According to data from the Law School Admission Council (unpublished, 1999) there were 71,726 applicants to at least one of the American Bar Association (ABA) approved law schools nationwide for the application year of 1997-8. Their average Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score was 151.4 and 70.1% of them were admitted to at least one law school.
Below are the figures for the five majors with
the largest volume of applicants for that year.
|Major||# of Applicants||Average LSAT score||Rate of Admission|
Compare the numbers above with those of philosophy
Unfortunately the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the administrators of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), keeps data only on the performance of broad major areas (e.g. humanities) rather than specific majors (e.g. philosophy). Below are the results of the April 1999 MCAT performance of students in some of these broad major areas. Note that humanities majors scored only very slightly (0.1 points) below math and statistics majors on all but the writing sample section of the exam, but did significantly better on the writing sample section.
Be advised that humanities majors wishing to go
to medical school will have to prepare by taking pre-medical courses in addition
to what is generally required by their majors.
|Major Area||# of test takers||Verbal Reasoning||Physical Sciences||Biological Sciences||Total||Writing Sample
(percentile rank range)
|Math & Statistics||162||8.6||9.5||9.1||27.2||47.6-62.2|
|Specialized Health Sciences||1408||7.1||7.3||7.5||21.9||34.2-47.5|
The Graduate Management
(GMAC), the administrators of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT),
in their latest Five-Year Summary (1992-1997), provide the following data
for the 1996-97 year.
|Major||Number of Test-takers||Mean Score|
According to data from Educational Testing Service
(ETS), the administrators of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), philosophy majors
did better between October 1, 1994 and September 30, 1997 on the combined
GRE score than students with every other major except physics & astronomy
and the mathematical sciences. The following table indicates the average
scores for students in 27 majors. (Refer to the
and search for 'test percentage distribution' for the complete tables.)
|Physics & Astronomy||648||537||717||1902|
|Computer & Info Sciences||605||482||675||1762|
|Earth, Atmospheric and Marine Sci||595||504||605||1704|
|English Lang & Lit||584||555||526||1665|
|Banking and Finance||577||464||621||1662|
|Anthropology & Archaeology||584||534||536||1654|
|Foreign Lang & Lit||559||517||536||1612|
|Health & Medical Sci||541||448||520||1509|
|Business Admin & Mgmt||523||436||521||1480|
According to an informal survey reported in an article in the New York Times (Dec. 26, 1997, Business section, page D1) the philosophy majors from the class of 1977 at four schools (Princeton, University of Virginia, University of Nebraska and Texas A&M) had done "remarkablywell" twenty years after graduation. The article reports that incomes of $50,000 or $60,000 are common, "and a few earn more than $200,000."
In the same article, Jorge Secada, director of undergraduate studies in philosophy at University of Virginia, is quoted as saying: "we are doing better in finding employment for graduates than most majors in the arts and sciences areas. Apparently people in the real world think philosophy majors are well trained. They are trained to think, to analyze. They express themselves well. They write."