Philosopher John Campbell (a professor at the University of California, Berkeley) describes philosophy this way—“it breaks down, describes, and assesses moves we ordinarily make at great speed….”. Using philosophy, he thinks, we think through problems until it “becomes evident that alternatives are possible.”
“Your mind is like a parachute: it only works when it’s open,” the old adage goes. The purpose of philosophy is to open your mind.
To study philosophy is to wrestle with questions that have occupied humankind for millennia, in conversation with some of the greatest thinkers who have ever lived. Whether you take just a course or two or end up majoring, as a student in philosophy you will find your time in the classroom, and in reading and arguing about the great philosophers, to be among the most rewarding intellectual experiences of your college career. The best reason to study philosophy is that you enjoy reflection, creative thought, and contemplation.
Some students worry that a philosophy degree doesn’t immediately lead to a career. But philosophy has proven itself to be an eminently practical degree: the skills you acquire studying philosophy are highly marketable, especially in a volatile and rapidly changing economic climate. Many specialized skills eventually become obsolete, and in any case most people end up changing careers several times over the course of their lives. The skills that philosophy teaches you will always be in high demand: the ability to think and write clearly, the ability to bring to light unnoticed presuppositions, to explain complex ideas clearly, to tease out connections and implications, to see things in a broader context, to challenge orthodoxy. In short, philosophy gives you skills that you can use in any line of work.
UMKC philosophy majors have gone on to pursue a variety of rewarding careers. Our philosophy alumni have achieved success in law, medicine, finance, consulting, business, entrepreneurial start-ups, psychology, journalism, the arts, non-profit work, education, and academia (both in philosophy and in other academic disciplines).
Specific requirements and tools for planning a degree can be found in the UMKC Course Catalog.
BA – Double Major, Philosophy and “Another Interest”
The philosophy department often encourages students to consider a “double major”: picking two areas of expertise to specialize in, rather than one. Many of our most successful graduates have been double majors, in such classic combinations as Philosophy and Psychology, Philosophy and Political Science, Philosophy and Economics, or Philosophy and Mathematics. The breadth and intensity of a double major allows students to maximize their undergraduate years, while keeping post-graduation options as wide as possible. That said, the challenge of the double major is not for everyone—there are lots of fun and important things to do in college, you shouldn’t spend all of your time studying and in class!—and before double majoring, students should be sure they are prepared for the extra workload.