If you have an interest in both philosophy and statistics, 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:
|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
Can be difficult to find
a job with if you
do not take applied
Very employable if
you combine it with
a more applied minor
such as computer
Well above average
Also employable if
you combine it with
data science and
classes and projects.
Source for philosophy salary
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 a statistics major, you can expect philosophy to be easier.
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 statistics major
Below are some key details about the statistics major.
According to Payscale, the average pay of someone with a statistics degree is $70,050
This is higher than the average pay for people with a bachelor of arts degree, across all majors, which is reported as being $64,000 and roughly equal to the average pay for people with a bachelor of science degree which is reported as being $71,000.
However, competing majors such as computer science and the different engineering degrees have significantly higher average pay. For example, the reported pay for someone with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering is $92,000.
The reason why statistics has a lower average pay could be that data analyst type roles are very popular among statistics majors. According to Payscale, these roles only pay $60,000 on average. Whereas, roles such as software engineer have an average pay of $90,000.
Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for mathematicians and statisticians will rise by 33% by 2029 compared to 2019.
This is mainly due to the surge in data that companies have been receiving in recent years that they need people with mathematical and statistical skills to make sense of.
Since statistics is used in many different fields, a statistics degree should open you up to many different job opportunities.
According to Payscale, the most common reported jobs people, with a statistics degree, report having are:
And a Business analyst
However, because it is a general degree, if you get a statistics degree without taking more applied classes, it can be difficult to compete for more specialized positions.
If you do end up choosing a statistics major, this means that you should take courses from the field that you want to enter, do summer internships and to complete projects related that field as well in order to be competitive when seeking a job.
It also means that alternative majors such as computer science or the different engineering degrees are likely to give you an easier time when looking for a job after graduating.
This is also shown in the data, since computer science and engineering both report having higher average pay than statistics.
Many statistics majors go into software engineering after graduation.
If you want to qualify for software engineering jobs then it would help to make sure to take a data structures and algorithms class since the material from that class gets tested heavily in software engineering interviews.
It would also help to try to get some internships as a software engineer while in college. To qualify for these internships, it would help to complete a number of software engineering projects, such as a web app, in order to show recruiters you know what you are doing.
Currently, data science is becoming a very popular career path among statistics majors.
To qualify for data science jobs, it would help to make sure to learn Python programming, data analysis using the Pandas library, machine learning, to complete data science projects as an undergrad and to try to get data science internships.
If you combine a statistics degree with software engineering skills and classes related to machine learning and data science, it would put you in a very good position upon graduation since software engineering, data science and machine learning engineering jobs are all very well paid with strong predicted job growth over the next decade.
If you get a statistics degree by itself, it would still put you in a good position to be competitive for “analyst” type roles but they do not pay nearly as well as data science, software engineering and machine learning engineering.
Types of classes you will study
As a statistics major you can expect to take the following classes:
- Differential calculus
- Integral calculus
- Multivariate calculus
- Linear algebra
- Discrete math
- Mathematical statistics
- Data analysis
You can also expect to have the option to take other statistics classes and related classes as available.
How difficult it is as a major
The statistics major is generally considered as being a moderately difficult degree by STEM standards. Some of the more advanced classes can be proof-based which tends to be much harder than the more computational classes but you might not have to take many of those classes depending on your specific program.
Some things to consider about the major
A Statistics degree can open up many different possible avenues for yourself and can be a very good degree when combined with a more applied minor. This is because the statistics taught in a stats major is useful in a wide variety of fields but you will need to supplement it with some field-specific coursework so that you are able to show that you can apply the statistics to those fields. It would also help to do some self-directed study in order to learn useful skills that might not be taughtt in the classroom such as Python programming and data analysis using Python.
A very good combination would be to major in statistics and to minor in computer science. Doing this would open you up to job roles such as data science, machine learning engineer, data analysis and software engineering.
Majoring in computer science and minoring in statistics is also a very good combination. If you want to go down the data science route, it would also help to make sure to take some statistics and data analysis classes.
More details about the statistics major
Reasons to choose a statistics degree
When compared with a philosophy bachelor’s degree, you can expect a bachelor’s degree in statistics to qualify you for more jobs, most of which will be “analyst” type roles. A statistics degree combined with computer science and data science knowledge is arguably one of the most employable combinations you can get right now due to the large number of jobs available already and the high predicted job growth.
Also, the demand for statistics majors is increasing sharply due to the increasing amounts of data that companies are getting. It is likely that the career paths that statistics can lead you down, such as data science, will continue to be highly in demand for many years.
If you do choose to get a statistics degree, it would help a lot to consider what you would like to do after graduating and to make sure to take classes related to that. It would also help to try to complete projects and to do summer internships related to a job you are interested in to make your job search much easier after graduation. It would also help to make sure to get good at programming, especially in R and Python, since many statistics jobs require programming and data analysis knowledge.
Reasons to choose philosophy
While a statistics 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.