If you have an interest in both philosophy and computer science, you might be wondering which would be a better major. This post will show you the advantages and disadvantages of each and help you decide which would be a better major for you.
At a glance:
|Job prospects||Average||Very good|
|Jobs people get|
with the degree
(some jobs require
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||It can be difficult to find|
a job with just a bachelor’s
degree in philosophy.
The major can become
more employable if
combined with a more
Can be a good pre-law
|A very employable|
degree with just a
bachelor’s degree. A
master’s degree can
help in obtaining more
The jobs typically pay
very well, have reasonable
hours and high satisfaction.
A good major if you are
interested in remote work.
Can give you access to
data science and
machine learning roles
if you choose the right
High predicted job growth.
Source for philosophy salary
There are a number of things to consider when choosing between the two degrees. Below, are details about each major, their differences and reasons to choose one or the other.
Details about a Philosophy degree
Below are some of the key details involved in a philosophy degree.
According to Payscale, the average pay of someone who has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy is $70,000. However, it is important to be aware that the average will be being increased by people who also went on to get more advanced degrees.
According to the BLS, the median salary of someone with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy was $54,000 in 2018. The average salary across all majors was $59,000 so this suggests that philosophy majors earn less than most other majors.
According to the BLS, typical jobs people with a philosophy degree get includes:
- School administrators
- Service managers
- Chief executives
You’ll see that many of the jobs, on the list, require an advanced degree. As a result, with just a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, you will likely have a hard time when seeking a job. The reason for this is likely to be that the major will not feature many technical classes that are directly employable.
This means that philosophy can be a good major if you plan on getting an advanced degree, especially in law. It also means that, if you major in philosophy, without planning on getting an advanced degree, it will be important for you to take more technical electives, that are directly employable, otherwise you might have a hard time when seeking a job.
Also, according to this data, the philosophy unemployment rate is 6.2% and the underemployment rate is 50.9%. Whereas, the unemployment rate, across all majors is, 3.9% and the underemployment rate is 42.9%.
Philosophy is a major that will require a lot of dense reading where you will be reading dense texts about philosophy. You will also be writing a lot since you will have to summarize arguments made by authors and provide your response. As a result, you can expect philosophy to be a major that will require a lot of study time. When compared to humanities majors, you can expect philosophy to be more difficult. When compared with most STEM majors, you can expect philosophy to be slightly easier depending on your own strengths.
Classes in a philosophy major can include:
Introduction to philosophy
You can see an example degree sequence here.
Things to consider
Philosophy can be a good degree if you are planning on going to graduate school. Philosophy majors typically perform very well on exams such as the LSAT and the GRE. As a result, if you are planning on going to law school, philosophy can be a good option.
Another thing to consider is that there will be lots of dense reading and writing. This means that it is important that you have good reading and writing skills. If you do not, you will likely have a very hard time in the major.
Philosophy is a useful degree in life, in that it will help you understand people’s arguments and to think logically, but it lacks technical aspects. People will often argue that critical thinking skills will help in getting a job. However, technical skills are also important and a philosophy major lacks in technical skills unless you take more applied classes in your electives. This is why an undergraduate degree in philosophy alone can be difficult to find a job with.
With that being said, philosophy can be a very good minor when combined with something more employable at the undergraduate level such as computer science.
If you do major in philosophy, it is important to minor in something more employable such as computer science. This is so that you will have some technical skills that you can use to help you when seeking a job.
Details about a computer science major
Below are some details about a major in computer science.
According to Payscale, the average salary of a person with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is $85,235. This makes computer science one of the best paying degrees available right now. With that being said, some of these salaries may be slightly inflated since a lot of computer science jobs are in very high cost of living areas such as San Francisco.
Many of the alternative degrees to computer science, such as statistics or applied math, will also have high average salaries. However, not only is computer science one of the best-paying degrees, but it also puts you in a good position with just a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, many of the alternatives require a master’s degree to be competitive when seeking a job.
Also, many people that get alternative degrees to CS actually end up finding themselves in CS type roles. For example, it is not uncommon for applied mathematics or statistics majors to find themselves working in programming roles after graduating. This is why computer science can also be a very good minor.
Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for
There are many different types of jobs that a computer science degree will open you up to. These can include:
- Software engineer
- Database administrator
- Data scientist
- Machine learning engineer
- App developer
- Web developer
- Computer systems administrator
Most CS majors will end up taking jobs as a software engineer which is one of the highest-rated jobs available. When interviewing for these roles, you will be tested mainly on algorithms and data structures that you’ll learn about during your time in the major. Make sure to be very comfortable with algorithms and data structures when interviewing.
Data science is another career that is becoming popular among CS majors. If you want to get a job in data science, it would help to take classes in data analysis and machine learning, to learn Python programming, and to complete data science projects. A CS degree combined with classes relevant to data science should put you in a good position to get data science and software engineering jobs.
It would also help to try to get internships during the summer since that will also help you a lot in getting into big tech companies that have very high salaries.
How difficult it is as a major
Computer science can have some difficult classes. Most CS degrees will require you to take calculus 1,2, and 3; linear algebra; and discrete mathematics as well as a number of computer science classes that can be difficult. When compared with philosophy, you can expect computer science to be slightly harder depending on how good you are at math versus writing and reading.
Types of classes you will study
Some classes that you can expect to take include:
You can also expect to take some mathematics classes including:
If your university does not require that you take those math classes, I would strongly recommend that you take them as electives. This is because they are key classes for machine learning and, if you want to go to grad school, they will be important classes to have on your transcript.
Some classes that you might have the choice of taking could also include
Important things to be aware of when taking the degree
Before you start taking the degree, it would be very important to consider what you think you would like to do with the degree. By doing so you will be able to optimize your classes to be suited towards what you want to do after graduation.
If your goal is to get into data science or machine learning type roles, it would be important to make sure to take machine learning classes, to do machine learning projects, to take classes in data analysis and to take some statistics classes. It would also be important to make sure to take calculus and linear algebra as a freshman or sophomore if they are not required in your major.
Whereas, if your goal is to get a job as a software engineer, it would be more important to take classes that focus on algorithms and systems architecture type classes.
If you think that you want to go to grad school, it would be important to take up research opportunities and to take classes related to what you think you would like to research as a grad student. It would also be important to look at what classes graduate schools want to see when accepting CS master’s applicants.
More details about the computer science major
Reasons to choose computer science
As mentioned above, computer science is a major that can qualify you for jobs that pay well and have strong predicted job growth, with just a bachelor’s degree. Since there are also a lot of potential jobs that can also be done remotely, it is also likely that you will be able to find a job in an area you want. However, to be competitive, it will still be important to complete software engineering projects and to try to get internships.
Also, computer science can be interesting at the graduate level where you could be researching in areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Reasons to choose philosophy
While computer science does have better job prospects than philosophy, at the bachelor’s level, there are still some reasons why you might want to choose philosophy.
If you are sure that you want to get into law school, then philosophy can be a good major since philosophy majors tend to do the best on the entrance exams.
If you want to go to graduate school for philosophy, then a philosophy undergraduate degree can also be appropriate.
However, in both cases, it is important to remember that you might change your mind half-way through the major. As a result, it would be worthwhile to minor in something more technical, such as computer science, so that you have something to fall back on if you do change your mind.