Chinese Philosophy Degree and Certificate Program Information

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.

Essential Information

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.

  • Program Levels in Philosophy: Certificates, Bachelor's degrees, Master's degrees, Ph.D. degrees
  • Prerequisites: A bachelor's degree in philosophy or a related subject is recommended.
  • Program Specializations: Students may choose to study the language, culture, and philosophies of one Asian culture, or China specifically.
  • Program Length: Depending on the program level, program length may range from two to five years.
  • Other Requirements: Some programs may require learning an Asian language to the intermediate level, study abroad experiences, a thesis, or a doctoral dissertation.

Certificate in Asian Studies

A certificate in Asian Studies typically involves multidisciplinary study in Asian languages, history, culture, literature, politics 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. 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
  • Metaphysics
  • Classical Chinese language
  • Taoism

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
  • Journalism
  • Foreign language teaching
  • Foreign service

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 19%, faster than average for all occupations, for postsecondary teachers in general from 2012-2022. The BLS reported the national median annual salary for postsecondary philosophy and religion teachers as of May 2014 was $63,630. Postsecondary philosophy and religion teachers held 23,210 jobs for the same period (www.bls.gov).

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