If you are deciding between majoring in economics or philosophy, you might want to know more about what each major has to offer. This post will show you the key facts about each major and help you to decide which would be a better degree for you.
At a glance:
|Types of jobs|
you can qualify for
|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
|Can be difficult to|
get a job with just
Many of the more
jobs require at least
a master’s degree.
Becomes a lot more
you combine it with
data analysis skills.
Source for economics salary and jobs
There are a number of things to consider when choosing between the two majors. 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. When compared with an economics major, you can expect philosophy to be similar in difficulty.
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 degree in economics
Below are some of the key details of the economics major.
According to Payscale, the average salary of a person with a bachelor’s degree in economics is $71,173.
Types of jobs you can get
With a bachelor’s degree in economics you can expect to qualify for jobs such as:
Since economics makes use of a lot of statistics, you can qualify for many different types of “analyst” roles. Many of these roles will require the knowledge of programming in programming languages such as R and Python. While doing an economics degree, it would help a lot to make sure to learn R and Python and to be able to show projects that show that you are able to make use of those languages in a useful way.
The difficulty of an economics degree will depend a lot on the specific program. Some economics programs will be very math heavy and focused on statistics and its use in economics. Whereas, other programs will not even require calculus and will be more focused on broad economic theory.
If you do decide on an economics major, it would help a lot to consider what you want to get out of it and the jobs you are interested in so that you can choose an economics program that is suitable for you.
Types of classes you’ll be taking
As mentioned above, economics programs can vary significantly. However, there are some classes that you can expect to be taking including:
Principles of microeconomics
Principles of macroeconomics
Statistics and probability
Topics in money and finance
Topics in banking
Depending on the program, you might also be required to take mathematics classes including:
Important things to be aware of
An economics degree, by itself, can be difficult to get a job with. As a result, it would be very important to take classes related to the job that you are interested in getting.
It is common for economics majors to end up in programming type roles after graduating. It would help you a lot to make sure to take some programming classes as electives and a CS minor would likely be a very good option. Doing this would open you up to good-paying roles such as software engineering.
In addition, if you are interested in going to graduate school for economics, it would help a lot to make sure to take more advanced mathematics classes since they are often required for graduate economics.
As mentioned above, the classes in an economics degree can vary a lot. It would help to look at the degree sequence for the economics degree program at your university and to make sure the required classes are suitable for the types of jobs you are interested in.
Reasons to choose an economics degree
When compared with philosophy, you can expect an economics degree to qualify you for more jobs, most of which will be “analyst” type job roles. In this case, it would help to make sure to learn how to program in R and Python, to take some data analysis classes, and to emphasize more on statistical classes in your major requirements.
However, when compared with other alternatives such as computer science, finance, or statistics, an economics degree will usually give worse job opportunities.
Reasons to choose philosophy
While an economics degree combined with the right classes and projects 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.
Regardless of the degree that you choose, it will be very important to make sure that you choose classes related to what you want to do after graduating. It is also important to consider what type of job you are most interested in and to choose your major accordingly.