What is Philosophy? The study of philosophy encourages rigorous and disciplined habits of mind and sharpens the critical intellect. Philosophers think carefully and precisely about issues of fundamental importance. Philosophy students find that a detailed, critical examination of various positions is exciting both logically and as a means of clarifying their own beliefs and values. Philosophy asks those questions that engage all sensitive and reflective people, but which seemingly cannot be answered by any of the empirical sciences: Is human behavior determined or is free choice possible? Are there objective standards for determining right and wrong, or is morality subjective? Can we objectively distinguish rational from irrational beliefs? Is everything material? Is there a God?

UCSB’s Philosophy Department offers the Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. Students may concentrate in one of the following areas: Core Philosophy Concentration—for students with a general interest in philosophy and those preparing for graduate study in the discipline. Ethics and Public Policy Concentration—focuses on moral and legal problems confronting the community and responsibilities of various professions. Each concentration allows for elective coursework. Through electives, students may study the philosophy of religion, science, history, mathematics, and law.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Philosophy?

The study of philosophy encourages rigorous and disciplined habits of mind. This sharpening of the critical intellect is excellent training for the demands of any academic subject. You may enjoy studying philosophy if you like thinking carefully and precisely about views and arguments of fundamental importance, and if you find that a detailed, critical examination of various positions is exciting both logically and as a means of clarifying and attempting to give a firm foundation for your own beliefs and values. Students in this field appreciate and have thoughtful attitudes toward life and the world. They reflect critically on such problems as the nature of our individual and social lives, the nature of the world in which we live, and the nature of our consciousness of and response to that world. Enjoying the debating of various issues with colleagues, this kind of person is always seeing and contemplating the moral and social issues that surround us. Excellent writing skills are important.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the Undergraduate Department Advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

  • Political Philosophy
  • History of Political Thought
  • Theories of Justice
  • Meaning and Reference
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Metaphysics
  • Professional and Business Ethics

    To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

    - Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

    - The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?
Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be. The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. Philosophy majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields. Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study, options include:

Public Relations
Social and Community Services
Corporate Ethicist
Social Worker
Public Service Official

To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
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Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.

See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn.
Some career possibilities for philosophy majors from Skidmore College.   

Where Can Philosophy Take Me? 

Some occupation ideas from the University of Kentucky.

Careers Beyond the University
A resource page for graduate student in the Humanities considering careers outside of academia.

Website from University of Maryland describes many of the paths philosophy students might take.

Graduate and Professional Schools
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This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.
Graduate programs based on your priorities.

Scroll down for a list of some graduate programs in Philosophy.

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Job Listings

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Guide to Writing and Journalism Jobs
Philosophy majors usually build skills in synthesizing ideas and writing.  Here is a collection of resources for jobs in writing, journalism, and publishing.

Jobs in Philosophy Worldwide
A compilation of jobs in philosophy. Most of them are academic positions.

USA Jobs
The U.S. government has jobs for everything.

Professional Associations

The American Philosophical Association
Offers lots of information for philosophy lovers.

American Philosophical Society
Has many resources including a nice listing of fellowship and research grants.

Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
A professional organization devoted to supporting philosophy inspired by continental European traditions.

UCSB Resources