Complete Guide to an Online Philosophy Degree
The study of philosophy involves critical thinking, reasoning, and comprehension skills. Philosophy has had a major impact on Western thought and intellectual history. Students studying philosophy will take classes in critical thinking, writing, ethics, and communication. Completion of an online philosophy degree indicates to employers that a student can approach problem-solving in a creative way. Philosophy programs often prepare students for careers in law, medicine, business, and education.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provides accreditation to colleges and universities in the U.S. Accreditation ensures that a college, university, or program meets established standards. The curriculum of philosophy degrees can vary somewhat between schools. Attending a school that has been accredited ensures that you are receiving a degree that meets or exceeds the quality level set forth by the CHEA. Read More
Comprehensive List of Schools for an Online Philosophy Degree (15)
Overview of Available Philosophy Degrees
There are a variety of degree and certificate programs available for those interested in pursuing a degree in philosophy. Philosophy degrees are available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and certificate level.
Students obtaining a degree in philosophy will be equipped with critical thinking, reasoning, and communication skills. Those seeking an advanced degree further their critical thinking skills and focus on a specialized area of study.
Online associate degree programs are 62-68 credits and take two years to complete. Classes taken while seeking an associate degree can be transferred to a four-year university with the credit applied toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree should you decide to pursue that instead.
You can obtain an associate degree from community colleges, technical colleges, online colleges, and universities. The only prerequisite for an associate degree in philosophy is a high school diploma or GED. Coursework includes classes in areas such as eastern philosophy, theology, and metaphysics, as well as a variety of liberal arts courses. Students obtaining an associate degree in philosophy will be equipped to enter the workforce with critical thinking and communication skills.
Students seeking a bachelor’s in philosophy will learn how to structure arguments, write concisely, and clearly communicate their ideas. Coursework includes classes in symbolic logic, rationalism, and modern and postmodern philosophy, among others. Programs are 120 credits and take four years to complete.
Bachelor’s degree programs are offered at colleges and universities, with many schools offering programs online. A high school diploma or GED is required for admission as well as letters of recommendation and application essays. Students are often asked to submit SAT or ACT scores, depending on the school.
All Bachelor’s of Arts degrees have a liberal arts component. Classes covering topics in this area are typically taken during the first two years of study. Courses specific to your major are taken during the final two years. Some schools offer internships, allowing you to gain experience in your field as you pursue your degree. A bachelor’s degree is required for those wishing to seek an advanced degree.
Students obtaining a bachelor’s degree in philosophy will be equipped with excellent reasoning, and communication skills as well as a broad liberal arts background upon entering the workforce. Bachelor's degrees in philosophy are often used as a stepping stone towards higher level degrees in law and business.
The Master’s of Arts in Philosophy allows students who already have a bachelor’s degree to gain greater expertise and expand their competence in philosophy. Students will usually select a specific concentration such as ethics and public affairs, philosophy and cultural theory, or philosophy and public affairs.
Master’s degree programs are offered at colleges and universities, with many offering programs online. Master’s programs typically involve two years of coursework, ranging from 30-35 credits, as well as a master’s thesis. A bachelor’s degree is required to apply to a master’s program. Students must submit an application, writing sample or essay, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and resume. Students who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than philosophy may also be required to take several undergraduate prerequisites before being granted admission into a master’s program, including a class in each of the core areas of logic, ancient philosophy, and modern philosophy.
Pursuing a master’s degree in philosophy allows students to expand their critical thinking skills and focus on a specialized area of study. Students will be prepared for a variety of careers including those in the fields of education and medicine. A master’s degree is also necessary to obtain for those students who wish to pursue a doctorate.
Students seeking a PhD in philosophy will obtain the skills necessary to become an independent scholar and teacher of the subject. Those who wish to obtain this advanced degree will likely choose to work at colleges and universities teaching the subject themselves. A PhD in philosophy requires writing a dissertation, meeting with faculty advisors and committee members, attending dissertation seminars, and teaching graduate students for at least two semesters.
Doctoral programs are offered at colleges and universities. Students must already have a master’s degree in philosophy before seeking candidacy in a PhD program. The master’s program requires two years of study, and the PhD program requires an additional two to four years, on average. Those seeking to obtain a doctoral degree must first pass a qualifying examination involving an essay and oral exam in front of a committee. Some schools also will have a language requirement and subsequent exam before students can be accepted into the doctoral program.
Once accepted, students will take seminars in preparing their dissertation prospectus. They will be required to submit their prospectus and meet with committee members to discuss their research. Students working on their dissertation will be required to attend dissertation seminars, during which they must submit a piece of their work in progress each semester. PhD students are also required to teach as a graduate student instructor for at least two semesters.
Students seeking training in philosophy but not interested in a traditional degree may obtain an online certificate degree in philosophy. These specialized programs teach students the fundamentals of philosophy.
The type of online program varies, with requirements ranging from 9-15 credits. Most online certificate programs will take one year to complete, and include focuses in areas such as bioethics, rhetoric, and human rights. Some programs offer the chance to further study an area of your own choosing.
Students interested in obtaining a certificate in philosophy will gain critical thinking skills that are valued by employers and higher education institutions. Some certificates can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree by transferring credits if you decide to seek an advanced degree at a later point in time.
Attending a school that has been accredited is important so that you know you are receiving the best quality education available. Accreditation ensures that your program is taught be qualified faculty members and that the curriculum is held to high standards.
Obtaining your degree from an accredited institution also signals to employers that you are receiving a quality degree. If you choose to transfer schools or obtain a higher degree, accreditation ensures that your prior coursework and degree will be recognized by other institutions.
- Associate of Arts in Philosophy. Darton State College. Accessed October 8, 2014. http://online.darton.edu/degrees/index.php?Key=Degree&Index=23.
- Careers for Philosophy Majors. University of Maryland. Accessed October 9, 2014. http://www.philosophy.umd.edu/undergraduate/careers.
- Information about Accreditation. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accessed October 7, 2014. http://www.chea.org/public_info/index.asp.
- MA in Philosophy Requirements. George Mason University. Accessed October 8, 2014. http://philosophy.gmu.edu/programs/la-ma-phil.
- Philosophy. ASU Online. Accessed October 8, 2014. http://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelor-arts-philosophy.
- Philosophy Certificate. DeSales University. Accessed October 8, 2014. http://www.desales.edu/home/academics/access/programs-of-study/certificate-programs/philosophy.
- Philosophy PhD Program. UC Berkeley. Accessed October 8, 2014. https://philosophy.berkeley.edu/graduate/phd.