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25 Best Colleges for a Philosophy Degree 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

This list presents the 25 best colleges for degrees in philosophy based on alumni earnings in the year after graduation. Topping the list is University of Pennsylvania, with a median salary of $63,600 for philosophy graduates. Median salary for philosophy graduates of the University of Southern California, which ranks second, is $44,900. University of Chicago and Boston College round out the top four schools.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Philadelphia (PA) Philadelphia (PA) $55,584 $23,875 $63,600
#2 #2 Los Angeles (CA) Los Angeles (CA) $56,225 $18,750 $44,900
#3 #3 Chicago (IL) Chicago (IL) $58,230 $23,750 $39,300
#4 #4 Chestnut Hill (MA) Chestnut Hill (MA) $55,464 $16,500 $38,600
#5 #5 Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others) Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others) $18,629 - $28,336 $20,500 $35,800
#6 #6 Fullerton (CA) Fullerton (CA) $18,766 $24,625 $31,800
#7 #7 Davis (CA) Davis (CA) $43,394 $13,183 $31,300
#8 #8 Seattle (WA) Seattle (WA) $36,588 $16,550 $31,000
#9 #9 Long Beach (CA) Long Beach (CA) $18,678 $12,583 $30,400
#10 #10 Philadelphia (PA) Philadelphia (PA) $29,066 $25,725 $30,400
#11 #11 Austin (TX) Austin (TX) $37,580 $24,258 $30,300
#12 #12 Santa Barbara (CA) Santa Barbara (CA) $43,383 $16,114 $30,200
#13 #13 Ann Arbor (MI) Ann Arbor (MI) $49,350 $16,208 $30,200
#14 #14 Boston (MA) Boston (MA) $33,966 $25,500 $30,000
#15 #15 Los Angeles (CA) Los Angeles (CA) $42,218 $15,000 $29,900
#16 #16 Gainesville (FL) Gainesville (FL) $28,659 $20,065 $28,600
#17 #17 Atlanta (GA) Atlanta (GA) $23,971 $28,698 $28,300
#18 #18 Tallahassee (FL) Tallahassee (FL) $18,786 $25,250 $28,000
#19 #19 Santa Cruz (CA) Santa Cruz (CA) $42,952 $19,643 $27,700
#20 #20 San Francisco (CA) San Francisco (CA) $19,140 $15,000 $27,400
#21 #21 Sacramento (CA) Sacramento (CA) $19,190 Not Reported $26,200
#22 #22 Madison (WI) Madison (WI) $36,805 $20,000 $26,000
#23 #23 New Brunswick (NJ) New Brunswick (NJ) $31,282 $22,750 $25,900
#24 #24 Denver (CO) Denver (CO) $20,847 $29,918 $25,900
#25 #25 Riverside (CA) Riverside (CA) $42,819 $21,562 $25,600

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's in Philosophy degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

#1
Philadelphia (PA)
Median Salary $63,600
Median Debt $23,875
Annual Tuition $55,584
Graduation Rate 95%

A Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania offers four different concentrations: humanistic philosophy, philosophy and science, political and moral philosophy, and general philosophy. The general philosophy route requires 32 course units, with the option for double majors. Outside of general education requirements and some free electives, students must complete fundamental philosophy courses. University of Pennsylvania students pursuing a BA in philosophy can benefit from study abroad opportunities, community service partnerships, career-focused internships around Philadelphia, and academic advising.

The department curriculum covers topics in practical and theoretical philosophy. Practical philosophy focuses on ethics, politics, and aesthetics, while the theoretical side covers metaphysics, mind, and logic. The general philosophy concentration is a balance of both areas. Required classes include the history of ancient philosophy, the history of modern philosophy, and formal logic. Seniors may select an independent study class in which they pursue research with a faculty member.

Visit the University of Pennsylvania's website.

#2
Los Angeles (CA)
Median Salary $44,900
Median Debt $18,750
Annual Tuition $56,225
Graduation Rate 92%

The University of Southern California’s (USC) Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences offers a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. The degree requires a total of 128 units, where most courses are equal to four units. USC is a private research institution in Los Angeles that offers a wide variety of course options. All students are required to take at least one gateway course, such as ethics, science & rationality, or political philosophy. The program also suggests that students take one of the logic course offerings.

The extensive class listings are then distributed across three different categorizations: the history of philosophy, systematic philosophy, ethics, law, and value theory. Possible class selections include Aesthetics & the Film, and the Philosophy of Mathematics. Senior-level philosophy majors may select to pursue a capstone seminar. Capstone seminars are limited to 15 students per class and have a minimum GPA requirement. USC philosophy students can access study abroad opportunities in dozens of countries.

Visit the University of Southern California's website.

#3
Chicago (IL)
Median Salary $39,300
Median Debt $23,750
Annual Tuition $58,230
Graduation Rate 94%

The Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy program at the University of Chicago introduces its students to the history of the discipline and various forms of thought and argument. Students have an option to complete a senior essay, for which they will work with a faculty advisor. A general major requires 1,000 units to complete; most classes are worth 100 units.

Undergraduates may choose to pursue a concentration within the philosophy major. The two concentrations are the intensive track with a 1,300-unit requirement and the allied fields track with a 1,200-unit requirement. Students who choose the intensive track will participate in smaller, group discussion-based classes. Intensive track candidates must first complete an interview requirement and finish a senior essay. The allied fields option is for individuals who seek a more interdisciplinary degree, with study in philosophy and another field. Popular combinations with philosophy are mathematics, economics, and biology. All students are required to take at least two philosophical history courses and then select from classes in practical and theoretical philosophy.

Visit the University of Chicago's website.

#4
Chestnut Hill (MA)
Median Salary $38,600
Median Debt $16,500
Annual Tuition $55,464
Graduation Rate 92%

Boston College, a private research institution located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, offers a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. Students in the philosophy major will study a structured curriculum on the human experience, with a focus on the major areas of philosophical thought: political philosophy, the philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of science.

All philosophy students must take 30 credits in the department, including two Core courses and eight electives. There are six Core courses: Philosophy of the Person, Perspectives I, Perspectives II, Perspectives II, Perspectives IV, and Personal and Social Responsibility. The eight electives include History of Philosophy, Knowledge & Reality, and Ethics & Value.

Students interested in graduate school can apply to the accelerated B.A/M.A. program. This option allows them to earn both a B.A. and an M.A. in Philosophy in five years.

Visit Boston College's website.

#5
Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
Median Salary $35,800
Median Debt $20,500
Annual Tuition $18,629 - $28,336
Graduation Rate 66%

Arizona’s State University (ASU) offers a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. The degree encourages students to build strong reading comprehension and the ability to form a clear argument, which are skills that transfer across a wide variety of career possibilities. The curriculum covers the major areas of the field, including metaphysics and ethics. Undergraduates at ASU have access to individualized major advising, internship opportunities, and a number of campus organizations. Students can use a directory of available campus internships and careers.

Classes are offered at the Tempe, Arizona, campus through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies. Philosophy courses include symbolic logic, philosophy of science, and senior seminar options with topics such as empiricism, feminist ethics, and moral psychology. Students need 120 credit hours in order to graduate. Philosophy students also have 13 study abroad programs to choose from that are specifically recommended for their degree program and have options in Europe, North America, Asia, and South America.

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