Online philosophy courses are available at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. In most cases, online courses in philosophy are set within a curriculum that leads students toward a liberal arts degree. Along with philosophy degrees, some schools offer distance learning degrees in interdisciplinary studies, liberal studies or the humanities that allow students to take coursework in philosophy. Students interested in pursuing graduate-level courses or degrees must have a bachelor's degree to be eligible for admission.
Since history and vocabulary are substantial components of philosophy education, the online medium involves a great deal of reading and peer discussion. For more analytical philosophy courses, coursework may involve advanced mathematics. Philosophy courses may be available online in several areas, including the following:
- Introductory philosophy
- Ancient philosophy
- Causal and statistical reasoning
- General philosophical theories
- Philosophical research methods
In most philosophy courses, world-famous philosophers are addressed, such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Descartes, Sartre, Hegel and Kierkegaard. There are several recurring topics presented across various courses, such as:
- The self
- Prisons and punishment
Distance learners enrolled in undergraduate programs in this field may complete a capstone course near the end of their studies. Graduate students also complete some type of culminating experience, such as a major project, thesis or comprehensive exam.
Students in online programs or classes access their coursework in a virtual classroom provided by their schools. These allow distance learners to view lectures, assignments and other materials at a time convenient for them. Asynchronous or synchronous class discussions can be held depending on the available communication tools, which may include discussion boards, chat rooms or video conferencing. Philosophy programs can typically be completed completely online.
Many philosophy graduates, depending on which level degree they were awarded, become employed as philosophy educators. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2015, philosophy and religion professors in colleges and universities made an average of $75,140 annually (www.bls.gov). However, a philosophy education can also be valuable in several non-academic employment fields, such as business, finance, government, journalism, law and research.
Another distance learning option for students interested in philosophy is to take online classes through schools' continuing education departments. These courses are usually self-paced and do not result in any college credit.
Students generally take philosophy courses as part of a broader undergraduate or degree program. They may choose to enroll in a program specifically in philosophy or take courses as part of a related liberal arts program.