What Careers are Available with a Master’s in Philosophy?

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Although many people read and study philosophy out of intellectual curiosity and a desire to understand big questions about the nature of knowledge, morality, or reasoning, eventually most philosophy students must consider the more mundane issue of Master's in Philosophy careers. Luckily, the logical and critical reasoning skills developed over the course of an advanced degree in philosophy are applicable to many different careers both inside and outside the academy according to a guide produced by the American Philosophical Association.

Teaching Careers

A master's degree is a starting point for a career in teaching philosophy. For students who wish to teach at four-year colleges and universities, a master's degree is a stepping stone to a PhD, which is normally required for tenure-track positions at universities. With only a master's degree, it is sometimes possible to find positions teaching at community colleges or doing part-time or adjunct teaching at four-year institutions. As many PhD programs offer teaching assistantships, continuing beyond a master's degree blends additional study with a teaching job.

Philosophy and Law

Although a master's degree in philosophy will not enable you to immediately obtain work in the legal profession, philosophical studies prepare students exceptionally well for law school. Because courses in philosophy train students to think analytically and reason through ethical problems, students trained in philosophy tend to do well on the LSAT exams and are well-prepared for legal studies. Some philosophy programs even offer areas of concentration in legal philosophy.

Medical Ethics

As medical technology improves, it confronts society with numerous ethical dilemmas. First, there are more people in need of organ transplants than there are organs available. Next, medical technology has the potential to prolong the life of the body even when the brain may be irreversibly damaged. Finally, people are increasingly concerned that medical technology might prolong the suffering of those with terminal illnesses. All of these issues are part of the field of medical ethics. Students who concentrate on medical ethics can find positions as medical ethicists or work as journalists writing about ethical issues in medicine.

Intelligence Analyst

Intelligence services such as the Central Intelligence Agency welcome applicants with strong analytical and research skills. Students with master's degrees in philosophy have both the intellectual and scholarly training to succeed in positions at intelligence agencies, intelligence divisions in the armed forces, or the foreign service that require the ability to analyze complex issues and spot emergent trends.

Computers and Technology

The training in formal logic that is part of most philosophy programs prepares students to work in positions at the leading edge of technology and computer science, especially in such areas as artificial intelligence, ethics of technology, and technical communications. Philosophy graduates are particularly suited to working with innovative companies who need to think through the implications of radically new technologies such as autonomous drones and cars, wearable technology, and virtual assistants.

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Master's in Philosophy careers are only limited by a graduate's imagination. Unlike narrower studies such as accounting or public relations, philosophy prepares students for a wide range of different careers in which analytical and critical thinking skills are needed. As computers take over more and more routine jobs, the more the intellectual rigor and versatility of philosophers will be needed.