Is a PhD in Philosophy Worth It?

May 31, 2020

Individuals who pursue a doctorate in philosophy can gain the skills necessary to excel within academia and the business world. You'll find information related to five careers that you can pursue upon graduation along with information on program duration and cost.

Salary Potential for Philosophy PhD Program Graduates

There are many jobs that a person with a PhD in Philosophy can pursue, some of which pay much higher salaries than the national average of $53,490, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2019.

Having taken courses in areas such as mathematical philosophy, ethics, legal philosophy, political philosophy, and the human mind, recent graduates have a wide range of knowledge. They will be able to aid employers in understanding human thought and have the logical reasoning skills necessary to be successful in many areas of business. Below are five careers that PhD program graduates can pursue along with their average salary and job growth statistics.

Job Title Average Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Editors $71,910 -3%
Market Research Analysts $71,570 20%
Marketing Managers $149,200 8%
Political Scientists $120,260 5%
Postsecondary Philosophy Teachers $88,970 10%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

PhD in Philosophy Career Descriptions


Editors help review ideas and provide insight into how they can be improved. They work with writers and authors to aid in rewriting and editing their work by proofreading and providing feedback when necessary. Editors also check to make sure all information is properly sourced and ensure that all facts are verified for accuracy. They make suggestions regarding a piece's structure and produce content and ideas in line with what a particular publication wants. Additionally, they issue final approval of all work submitted and help to promote it in various ways. All of these tasks require the attention to detail and sound judgement that can be developed during a philosophy doctoral degree program.

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts look at sales trends and current marketing strategies to make economic forecasts and analyze these same forecasts to determine how effective or ineffective a current plan of action is. Students who obtain a PhD in Philosophy develop the extensive research and analytical skills necessary to create effective marketing plans. In addition, the time spent conducting their dissertation research on the way to a degree can give them a good understanding of how to manage time and conduct market research efficiently.

Marketing Managers

Marketing managers work with their staff, as well as managers in public relations and sales departments, to come up with marketing plans and determine the media through which they will execute these plans. They also aid in determining the pricing of products and the ways in which the consumer base will be targeted. The analytical and research skills students learn in a philosophy PhD program make them ideal for this position.

Political Scientists

Individuals who have secured a PhD in Philosophy have extensive course study in the field of political philosophy and as a result may be able to acquire jobs as political scientists. Individuals who choose to do this job spend their time writing their opinions and crafting reports related to political research that they have conducted. They generate forecasts of social and political trends and analyze the effects that government policies have on individuals. In addition, they develop political theories as well as observe current events to better understand how the societal landscape is changing.

Postsecondary Philosophy Teachers

Postsecondary philosophy teachers continue doing research and writing within the field, while also lecturing students in the classroom. They spend their time away from the classroom postulating questions related to things like the belief in a higher power and the nature of morality and bring these concepts into their lectures as part of discussion. Additionally, they bring new students into a college's graduate program and guide and assist them in many ways to ensure that they reach academic goals on time. Postsecondary teachers can also create university committees and engage with students and the public through them.

PhD in Philosophy Degree Program Information

Students wishing to secure a PhD in Philosophy might not have to worry about tuition cost, as the majority of graduate programs offer options to help cover it. For instance, students can get research assistantships or fellowships to cover tuition during the first two years and switch over to teaching assistantships for their final years within a graduate program.

The drawback is that these programs could take up to six or seven years of full-time study to complete. In the course of obtaining a PhD, students engage in around 45 credit hours of coursework. Typical graduate courses include aesthetics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of mathematics, and ethics. Students also research and write their dissertation, all while fulfilling their T.A. responsibilities.

While a PhD in Philosophy might not be for everyone, it can enhance a person's job opportunities. With opportunities in management and business, as well as political science, individuals with a PhD in philosophy could have no trouble finding a high-paying job outside of academia once they complete a program's extensive curriculum requirements.

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