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Philosophy: "Where the Smart Kids Are"

Philosophy: “Where the Smart Kids Are”


Recently, in the New York Times, Brian Leiter, Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, said that “[a]fter nearly 20 years in law teaching, I can confirm that no one is smarter than the serious undergraduate philosophy major.”[1]


Did You Know…


·      Majoring in Philosophy is great preparation for taking graduate school entrance exams such as the LSAT, the GMAT, and the GRE?


·      Philosophy majors score higher on graduate school entrance exams than every other major in the Humanities and Arts?


·      Philosophy majors have the highest mean scores on the Verbal section of the GRE than any other major in any of the fifty fields listed by the ETS, the service which runs the GRE? (mean score: 591)[2]


·      Philosophy majors score much higher in the Quantitative section of the GRE than any of the other Humanities? (mean score: 630)


·      Philosophy majors scored better in the Analytic section than every major in the Life Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences, Education, Business, and “Other Fields,” as well as every other major in the Humanities? (mean score: 4.9)


·      Philosophy majors are tied for the highest mean scores on the LSAT? (average score 157.4)[3]


·      Philosophy majors at Loyola have received Rhodes, Marshall, and Jackson-Davies Scholarships?


·      Philosophy majors at Loyola have gone on to become Professors, Bank Presidents, Musician/Songwriters, School Board Directors, Judges, and Attorneys?


Thinking About Law?


Compare the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytic mean scores in Philosophy (Verb. 591, Quant. 630, Ana. 4.9), with other popular pre–Law majors: Political Science (Verb. 527, Quant. 584, Ana. 4.6), Communications (Verb. 468, Quant. 523, Ana. 4.3), Public Administration (Verb. 460, Quant. 520, Ana. 4.1). None of these majors did better than Philosophy majors on any of the three sections of the GRE.


Our Philosophy pre-Law Majors Have Been Accepted To The Following Law Schools:


·      Harvard Law School

·      Columbia Law School

·      Vanderbilt University Law School

·      Berkeley Law, University of California (Boalt Hall)

·      University of Texas Law School

·      Tulane University Law School


What About Non–Academic Careers?


Employers in the following areas are attracted to philosophy majors:


·      Business

·      Management

·      Public administration

·      Journalism

·      Public health

·      Criminal justice


Why? As Lucy Adams, Human Resources Director of Serco, a services business and a consultancy firm, said in her 2007 interview with The Guardian:


Philosophy lies at the heart of our approach to recruiting and developing our leadership, and our leaders. We need people who have the ability to look for different approaches and take an open mind to issues. These skills are promoted by philosophical approaches.[4]


Employers want and reward many of the capacities which the study of philosophy develops—the ability to solve problems, to communicate, to organize ideas and issues, to assess pros and cons, and to boil down complex data. These capacities represent transferable skills.


Transferable Skills?


Yes, philosophy provides you with a set of valuable skills that you can use almost anywhere. These include, but are not limited to:[5]


       General Problem Solving The study of philosophy helps you to analyze concepts, definitions, arguments and problems. It contributes to your capacity to organize ideas and issues, to deal with questions of value, and to decide what is essential from loads of information.


       Communication Skills Philosophy provides you with skills in presenting ideas through well–constructed, systematic arguments. It helps express what is distinctive about your own view, and enhances your ability to explain difficult material.


       Persuasive Powers. Philosophy helps you develop the ability to be convincing. You learn to build and defend your own views, to appreciate competing positions, and indicate why your view is preferable to others.


       Writing Skills. Philosophy teaches interpretive writing through examination of challenging texts, comparative writing through emphasis on fairness to alternative positions, argumentative writing by developing students’ ability to establish their own views, and descriptive writing through detailed portrayal of concrete examples.


[1] Brian Leiter, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values at the University of Chicago. See “Room for Debate: Philosophy’s New Take on Old Problems,” at

[2]Based on the performance of seniors and non-enrolled college graduateswho tested between July 1, 2005, and June 30, 2008. For more information, see the Graduate Record Exam’s Guide to the Use of Scores 2009-2010.

[3] Philosophy majors are tied with Economics majors for first place. See LSAT Scores of Economic Majors: The 2008-2009 Class Update. Electronic copy available at:

[5] These and many other skills can be found on the University of North Carolina, Greensboro’s website: