What do I do with a Philosophy and Religion major? That’s the elephant in the room, isn’t it? Sure, maybe studying philosophy and religion will make you a better, deeper thinker, but you need a job after college, too. This is a legitimate concern, and it can be answered.
The first point to make is that many jobs that require a college degree don’t require a specific major. These sorts of employers are looking for the thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills that study of the liberal arts generally imparts. There are few liberal arts majors that are as effective, and none that are more effective, than philosophy is at training the critical thinking, reading, and communication skills that make liberal arts majors employable. The business world, for instance, is generally on the lookout for clear and creative thinkers and communicators, not necessarily just for people with business degrees. For another instance, philosophy and religion majors are well situated to become mediators (who are employed by the legal system in divorce cases, custody battles, and other issues, and to help settle disputes between corporations).
The second point to make is that there are specific careers for which a philosophy and religion major is ideally suited. The study of philosophy is particularly good at preparing students for law school, and philosophy and religion majors regularly rank among the very best majors (along with physics and mathematics) for their law school entrance exam (LSAT) scores. The philosophy and religion major is also well suited for preparing students to go on to graduate programs religious ministry and counseling.
The third point to make is that the Philosophy and Religion major at Shawnee State University is purposefully designed to be easy to combine with another major which may be more directed at a specific vocation. This major is the smallest in the university, only requiring 33 units, and courses that the major requires also satisfy three general education requirements (the Social Sciences requirement and both the Western and Non-Western Cultural Perspectives requirements). That makes it very reasonable to major in Philosophy and Religion for its intrinsic interest and the many critical thinking, comprehension, and communication skills that it trains, while also pursuing another major that is more directed toward a specific sort of job. What is more, a philosophy and religion major can very strongly complement other courses of study in other ways – training in religion and ethics can greatly help a psychology major interested in counseling, for example, just as training in religion, ethics, and political philosophy can greatly help an international studies or political science major interested in public service. Almost any of the social science majors make for good majors to pair with Philosophy and Religion, and it is even possible to pair the major with a natural science major.
The final point to make is perhaps the most significant: while it is important that your college studies help you get a job, that is not the only or even the most important thing to be gained from studying at a university. If studying philosophy and religion can transform you – transform your mind and open up the great world of ideas to you – then it has given you something more precious than the mere ability to make a little more money.