Degree programs specializing in Chinese philosophy are rare in the U.S. However, there are philosophy programs at the graduate level that feature concentrations in Chinese and other Eastern philosophies. Admission to these master's and Ph.D programs typically requires a bachelor's degree in philosophy or a related subject.
Undergraduate philosophy majors who want to pursue this specialty can also prepare for advanced studies by earning a Certificate in Asian Studies. This program allows some focus on the Chinese culture, language, history and philosophy. Programs generally allow students to focus on one Asian culture, such as China, and may require students to take up to two years of Chinese language studies. Language and cultural immersion through study abroad programs can facilitate the study of Chinese philosophy.
Certificate in Asian Studies
An Asian Studies certificate provides an additional academic credential and possible competitive advantage when earned alongside a bachelor's degree in philosophy.
Coursework often involves study in Eastern languages, social sciences, fine arts and humanities. Students can select from a wide range of interdisciplinary courses to create a concentrated program determined by student interest. Topics of study may include:
- Eastern art
- Ancient Chinese philosophy
- Beginning and intermediate Chinese language
- Asian cultural history
- Modern Chinese politics and sociology
Master's Degree in Philosophy
Two-year graduate programs in philosophy offer further exploration of Eastern and Western philosophical themes. A significant background or bachelor's degree in philosophy is a prerequisite. Students may choose an area of concentration, including Chinese philosophy. Philosophy programs award a Master of Arts in Philosophy generally after the completion of a thesis, though non-thesis options may be available.
Graduate study involves advanced philosophical theory and history courses, as well as philosophical applications of other disciplines. Students may also be required to take advanced foreign language courses. Advanced courses include:
- Philosophy of art
- Modern Chinese philosophy
- Classical Chinese language
Ph.D in Philosophy
Doctoral programs in philosophy offer independent research opportunities and prepare students to teach philosophy at the university level. Entrance into Ph.D. programs may occur after earning a B.A. or an M.A. Students take postgraduate philosophy courses during the first few years of doctoral study and eventually work toward writing and defending an academic dissertation. Completing a Ph.D. program may take five years.
Students engage in advanced philosophy courses and conduct independent research in a focus of their choice. Advanced level coursework includes:
- Comparative philosophy seminar
- Hermeneutics history
- Neo-Confucianism and Daoism
- Islamic, Indian and Buddhist philosophy
- Dissertation research
Popular Career Options
Although higher degrees mainly prepare for careers in academia, the critical thinking and reasoning skills learned through philosophy degree programs may benefit multiple professions, including law, business or medicine. For example, a Doctor of Philosophy qualifies graduates for teaching positions at the collegiate level. According to the BLS, those who hold a Ph.D. are likely to receive the best job prospects for postsecondary teaching (www.bls.gov). Chinese philosophy professors may contribute to scholarship in their field by publishing in academic journals, such as the Journal of Chinese Philosophy.
An educational background in East Asian Studies may prepare students for careers in:
- Cultural affairs
- Arts administration
- Foreign language teaching
- Foreign service
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the national median annual salary for postsecondary philosophy and religion teachers was $66,380, as of May 2015. Postsecondary philosophy and religion teachers held 23,820 jobs for the same period (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected jobs for these teachers to grow by 12%, faster than average for all occupations, from 2014-2024.
Students with an interest in Chinese philosophy may choose to complete an Asian Studies certificate program or enroll in a graduate degree in philosophy and specialize in Chinese thought. At the graduate level, these programs give a thorough education of the history and application of Chinese philosophy.