Bachelor's degree programs in philosophy are available in fully online and hybrid formats, but these online programs are relatively rare. For hybrid programs, some classroom-based attendance may be required. Such programs can help prepare graduates for a wide variety of careers; the exact requirements for these careers vary by job title, state, and employer. Applicants must have high school credits in the social sciences for some programs. Aspiring college professors will typically need a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Philosophy, and Ph.D. programs in philosophy are generally unavailable online.
Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy
An online bachelor's degree program in philosophy provides a comprehensive survey of its subject, from the history of philosophy to major threads in philosophical thinking to the relationship between philosophy and other areas of human endeavor. Students sharpen their skills in oral and written communication, analysis and interpretation, develop a conceptual framework about the forms and limits of knowledge and gain perspective on present day social and political conflicts. Applicants to a bachelor's degree program need a high school diploma or GED. Schools may give preference to those with completed high school-level coursework in English composition, social science and a foreign language.
Program Information and Requirements
Courses may be completed online or in a hybrid of online and traditional format in a distance learning bachelor's degree program in philosophy. A bachelor's degree is typically earned in four years. All course readings and assignments are accessed via a school's website, and all completed assignments are submitted the same way. Content is conveniently accessible 24 hours a day, but there are deadlines for completed work.
Students need a relatively recent personal computer, text editing software and Internet access to take classes online. Schools may use a course management system, such as Desire2Learn.
List of Common Philosophy Courses
Some philosophy programs may be oriented toward a particular concentration or specialization, such as ethics. General education courses are typically part of bachelor's degree programs.
This course introduces fundamental principles of reasoning and problem solving. Coursework also touches on symbolic logic and the relationship between logic and mathematics.
Students initiate a critical review of philosophical thinking on such concepts as consciousness, reality and knowledge in this course. Readings from philosophers in the western tradition, including Plato, Descartes and Kant, supplement and support the program of study.
Classical Western Philosophy
This course broadly examines philosophical thinking and themes from classical antiquity to the early Medieval era. Course readings consider the influence of culture and historical trends on the development of western philosophy.
Modern Western Philosophy
Philosophical thinking from the late Medieval era to the 19th century is the focus of this course. Critical reflection on the period's major thinkers and the cultural milieu that influenced them form a significant line of inquiry.
Students explore the writings of contemporary existentialist philosophers, such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus and Sartre. Existentialist thought on religion, literature and psychology are among the topics considered.
No specific career is directly associated with a bachelor's degree in philosophy, although it is sometimes a precursor to further studies in law, according to the American Bar Association (www.abanet.org). When seeking employment, graduates of an online program will likely have to rely on the basic critical thinking, communication, research and information management skills they developed in the course of earning their degree. Business management, publishing and education as well as law are areas in which these skills are useful.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), employment of lawyers will grow 6% from 2014-2024. Employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers was expected to grow 6% during that time. As of May 2015, the median annual salary for lawyers was $115,820. The same year, the median salaries of kindergarten and elementary school teachers were $51,640 and $54,890, respectively. It's important to note that teachers and lawyers typically need to be licensed.
Continuing Education Information
Bachelor's degree holders who want a career in their major subject will have better prospects as instructors at the postsecondary level or as academic researchers, both of which require earning a doctoral degree in philosophy. Ph.D. programs in philosophy are very rare online.
Those in online bachelor's degree programs in philosophy study various foundational eras and schools of thought in the discipline, including existentialism. Graduates can apply their education to various employment roles, including education and business, as well as a stepping stone toward additional education in law.