Philosophy & Religion Studies
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Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Philosophy and Religion Studies

1. What is Philosophy?
2. What Can I Do with a Philosophy Degree?
3. What kinds of programs are offered by Rowan's Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies?
4. Is it possible to combine a degree in Philosophy and Religion Studies with another major?
5. What are the requirements for admission into Philosophy and Religion Studies?
6. What kind of learning opportunities are available, both on and off campus?
7. Why Study Religion
8. Will Religion Prepare Me For Professional School?
9. Will Religion Prepare Me For a Career In Business?
10. What Do Religion Studies Entail?

1. What is Philosophy?

Philosophy is an activity that attempts to answer fundamental and important issues in our lives. One of the best ways to understand philosophy is to investigate the branches in philosophy.

Branches in philosophy:

As an academic discipline, Philosophy casts a wide net and takes up questions basic not only to the human experience but of interest to other academic disciplines. There are a great many fields of inquiry within Philosophy. They include:

• Metaphysics (What is reality?)
• Epistemology (What is knowledge?)
• Logic (What is the structure of reason or reasoning?)
• Philosophy of Mind (What are minds? What is thought? How do they relate to their objects and to the world?)
• Philosophy of Language (How does language function as a medium of thought?)
• Philosophy of Science (What is science? How is it able to give us knowledge of the world?)
• Philosophy of Art (Aesthetics) (Nature of art, how artistic creations are to be evaluated, how the arts are related to each other and other societal factors)
• Philosophy of Religion (Can we know whether God exists? Is faith rational?)
• Ethics (What are values? How should we act? What makes an action right or wrong, good or bad?)
Subfields: Political Philosophy, Social Philosophy, Business Ethics, Medical Ethics, Philosophy of Law

Philosophical Method

  • Speculation is the use of imagination and logic to offer new possibilities about the world, especially about those things not yet understood by science. Speculation is the basic method used by philosophers.
  • Analysis typically involves the definition of concepts in order to gain a clearer understanding of events, people, and the world. Philosophers have perennially asked such questions as: “What is justice? What is knowledge? What is consciousness? What is reality? What is art? These questions demand an analysis of the concepts involved.

Many of the disciplines of the modern university, including economics, political science, psychology, linguistics, and computation theory were initiated by philosophers. They continue to be examined and developed by philosophers.

Skills Developed Through Philosophical Training

  • Communication Skills
  • Writing Skills
  • Problems Solving, Critical Reasoning, Analytical Skills
  • Open mindedness, Awareness and Understanding of Global Village and Diversity Issues
  • Ethics training
  • Persuasive writing and public speaking
  • Advocacy and Civic mindedness
  • Research and Interpretation


2. What Can I Do With a Philosophy Degree?

Careers for Philosophy Students

  • Law
  • Management and Business
  • Medicine
  • Ethics Advisory Boards: Business, Medicine, Law, Environmental Policy
  • Politics
  • Education and Teaching
  • Art
  • Journalism
  • Religion and Culture
  • Public Relations and Communications
  • Sociology
  • Divinity School
  • Management
  • Software development and design
  • Computer programming
  • Publishing and Editing
  • Information science (librarians & archivists)
  • Policy Analysis and research
  • Activism, Non-Profit Work, Fundraising
  • Philosophical counseling
  • Environmental Policy and Research

A recent article in the New York Times (April 6, 2008) highlights the increasing number of undergraduate philosophy majors nationwide. Another article, from The Guardian (Nov. 20, 2007), shows evidence that philosophy degrees are in growing demand from employers.

Philosophy and Graduate School

  • Philosophy majors can pursue a Masters or Doctoral Degree in Philosophy
  • Law Degree
  • Business School
  • Masters in Public Policy
  • Other Graduate Degrees

Philosophy and Law School

Philosophy is a popular major for those considering law school, and philosophy majors outperform all other majors on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). In fact, two members of the current Supreme Court of the United States were undergraduate philosophy majors (Justice Souter and Justice Breyer)

The Association of American Law Schools says the following: "What the law schools seek in their entering students is not accomplishment in mere memorization but accomplishment in understanding, the capacity to think for themselves, and the ability to express their thoughts with clarity and force." Those who aspire to a career in law need to develop "perception and skill" in the use of language as well as sensitivity to its "fluidity" and "deceptiveness." They also need to "develop insight into, rather than merely information about, the institutions and values with which human beings are concerned." Among other things, potential law students need to have a grasp of the nature of human beings,..... internal and external limitations upon the development of understanding and reason,.... the function of value choices in planning,.... (and the) cultural heritage of Western Societies, including philosophy and ethics."

 Philosophy and Business School

The Management Myth. If you want to succeed in business, don’t get an M.B.A. Study philosophy instead!

Philosophy Students and Graduate School Entrance Exams

  • Students considering graduate education will be impressed with the data regarding philosophy majors and the GRE see here and here Best Majors for GRE Scores in 2013: Philosophy Dominates
  • Philosophers also excel on the LSAT (Law School admissions test) and GMAT (Graduate Business School Admissions test).
  • Philosophy majors consistently outscore almost any other major on standardized entrance exams—even those “majoring” in the subject being tested, outscoring business majors on the GMAT and all but Mathematics and Economics students on the LSAT. 




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Philosophy and Jobs

Students enjoy Philosophy courses and Enjoy Career Success after University

  • Philosophy students are more likely than computer scientists to land jobs immediately after graduation. In a study released by Higher Education Statistics Agency, 63% had jobs, 15% pursued further full time education, and only 7% were unemployed. Source: Times Higher Education Supplement, August, 2004. p9 (1).
  • The Higher Education Statistics Survey puts philosophy of science right up with medicine in its employment record for graduates.
  • Philosophers rank higher than popular majors like Communications, Biology, Accounting, and Political Science. Looking at mid-career salaries, philosophy majors rank 16th out of 50 . For many majors where the starting median salary is slightly higher than in philosophy, the mid-career median salary of philosophy majors is considerably higher. For example, the median starting salary for a Business Management major is $3,100 higher than the median starting salary for a Philosophy major - $43,000 vs $39,900. But the mid-career median salary for Philosophy majors is $9,100 higher - $81,200 vs $72,100. See the statistics on Mid-Career Salaries for Philosophy Majors

American Philosophical Association Statement on the Major

Provides a description of Philosophy and Career Opportunities for Philosophy Students


3. What kinds of programs are offered by Rowan's Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies?

The department offers an interdisciplinary 36 hour major in Philosophy and Religion Studies, a 21 hour minor in Philosophy, a 21 hour minor in Philosophy and Religion Studies, an 18 hour concentration in Philosophy and Religion Studies, and an 18 hour concentration in Ethics. Our majors specialize in either Philosophy or Religion Studies, but take some courses from both disciplines. A portfolio requirement and a service learning component contribute to an integrated and well-rounded education. Visit the department website for a complete description of our courses and programs.

Overview of Philosophy and Religion Studies programs


4. Is it possible to combine a degree in Philosophy and Religion Studies with another major?

Our major combines well as a double major with many other disciplines from all the colleges on campus.


5. What are the requirements for admission into Philosophy and Religion Studies?

The requirements are the same as those for admission to the university.


6. What kind of learning opportunities are available, both on and off campus?

  • Service Learning : The department collaborates with the Center for Service Learning to provide suitable opportunities for volunteer service, internships and other such experiences, and to integrate these with students’ work in the major. See Service Learning Requirement in this website.
  • Study abroad : Rowan University has formal exchange arrangements with many universities across the globe, where you can study abroad for a semester or a year; many other such opportunities can be individually arranged. The department encourages our students to take advantage of these opportunities and helps them find suitable placements. Please go to the International Center website for more information.
  • The Philosophy Club, an active student club with faculty advisors, meets regularly for discussion, service projects, and other activities.
  • The Open-Minded Spirits Club , an active student club with faculty advisor, meets weekly for meditation and free discussion on spirituality related issues.

Philosophy/Religion Faculty and Course Offerings

See this department’s Faculty page on this website and the Program Guides for Philosophy and Religion Majors

Former Rowan Students who completed Major or Minor in Philosophy and Religion Studies.

Our students have pursued careers in:

  • Philosophy Ph.D. programs
  • Other graduate programs
  • Law school
  • Politics
  • Arts

Famous Philosophy Students

The following is a list of some famous philosophy students. You will see that philosophers are prepared for a wide variety of future careers: law, politics, journalism, government, entertainment, business, religious positions, economics and the arts.

Film and Television
Wes Anderson (filmmaker - Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, etc.)
Steve Allen (writer and comedian)
Woody Allen (filmmaker, writer and comedian)
George Carlin (comedian and actor)
Ethan Coen (filmmaker - The Big Lebowski, Fargo, etc.)
Stephen Colbert (author & host, The Colbert Report)
Wes Craven (filmmaker - Nightmare on Elm Street)
Luc Dardenne (filmmaker - The Promise, The Child, Darkness, etc.)

David Duchovny (actor—The X files, Californication)
Harrison Ford (actor)
Ricky Gervais (comedian and actor)
Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons)
Jay Leno (host, The Tonight Show)
Peter Lynch (filmmaker)
Amy Madigan (actress)
Terrence Malick (filmmaker - The New World, The Thin Red Line, etc.)
Steve Martin (comedian & actor)
Dennis Miller (comedian)
Bill Murray (comedian, studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris)
Joan Rivers (comedian)
Susan Sarandon (actress)
Wallace Shawn (actor, playwright)
Gene Siskel (movie reviewer, Siskel & Ebert At The Movies)
Steve Thomas (host, This Old House)
Dave Thomas (one of the "Mackenzie Brothers" on SCTV)
Alex Trebeck (host, Jeopardy)

William Bennett (former Drug czar & NEH leader)
Jerry Brown (former governor of California and presidential candidate)
Pat Buchanan (Reform party nominee in 2000 for President of the United States)
William Jefferson Clinton (former President of the United States)
Angela Davis (social activist)
Rahm Emanuel (Clinton White House Political Advisor)
Rudi Giuliani (former mayor of NYC)
Gary Hart (US Senator, former presidential candidate)
Vaclav Havel (former President of Czechoslovakia)
Martin Luther King, Jr. (civil rights leader)
Robert McNamara (former Secretary of Defense, head of the World Bank)
Richard Riordan (former Mayor of LA)
Aung San Suu Kyi (Human rights activist and Novel Peace Prize winner)
John Silber (former President of Boston University)
Pierre Trudeau (former Canadian Prime Minister)
Elie Wiesel (Human rights activist and Nazi hunter)
Dr. Stephen Younger (director of the Department of Defense's Threat Reduction Agency, established after 9/11)

Business & Economics
J. Paul Getty (industrialist and founder of Getty Oil, endowed the famous Getty art museum)
Carl Icahn (CEO of TWA,  corporate raider)
Carly Fiorina (CEO, Hewlett-Packard)
Gerald Levine (CEO, Time Warner)
Michael McKaskey (owner, Chicago bears)
William H. Miller III (mutual fund manager, oversees the Legg Mason Value Trust)
Lachlan Murdoch (media magnate, son of Rupert Murdoch)
George Soros (money manager, billionaire founder of the Soros Foundation)
P. Michael Spence (economist and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics)
Moses Znaimer (owner of CITY-TV and MUCH-MUSIC, Toronto)

The Arts
Pearl Buck (writer, Pulitzer prize and Nobel prize winner)
Philip K. Dick (science fiction writer)
Paul Draper (winemaker, Ridge Vineyards)
T.S. Eliot (author)
Ken Follet (author)
Phillip Glass (composer)
Randall Grahm (winemaker, Bonny Doon Vineyards)
Jay McInerney (author)
Moby (musician)
Neil Peart (drummer for rock group, Rush)
Steve Reich (musician, composer)
Jeff Smith (chef also known as "The Frugal Gourmet")
Susan Sontag (essayist)
Alexander Solzhenitsin (political dissident, writer)
David Foster Wallace (author and MacArthur prize recipient)

John Elway (quarterback, Denver Broncos)
Phil Jackson (NBA coach, LA Lakers)
Bruce Lee (martial arts & actor)
Mick Schmidt (former Philadelphia Philly)
Aaron Taylor (offensive tackle, Green Bay Packers)

John Chancellor (journalist, news anchor)
Ivan Frolov (editor of PRAVDA)
Chris Hayes (journalist and commentator)
Mark Hulbert (financial columnist for FORBES magazine)
Stone Phillips (broadcast journalist)
Eric Severide (a contemporary of Walter Cronkite)
George F. Will (journalist and commentator)
Juan Williams (former host of National Public Radio's "Talk of the nation", writer for the Washington Post)

Justice Stephen Breyer (US supreme court)
Carol Heckman (first female US magistrate in the Western district)
Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin (Canadian Chief Justice)
Justice David Souter (US Supreme Court)
Judge Joseph A Wapner (host of The People's Court)

The Late Pope John Paul II
Cardinal Bernardin (late Cardinal of Chicago)

Kristen Baker (first female brigade commander, United States military Academy)


7. Why Study Religion?

The academic study of religion explores both the components common to many of the world’s religions and the unique aspects of individual religions. Religion includes spiritual experiences, intellectual or doctrinal contents of beliefs, narratives, story-telling, myth, written scriptures or texts, development of historical tradition, social organizations, symbols, rites and rituals.

In the mid-twentieth century, scholars could describe much of American religion under the title Protestant, Catholic, Jew. Today the American landscape includes much more: the mosque in Philadelphia, or in the cornfield south of Toledo, Ohio; the Hindu Temple in the north of Boston, or in southern New Jersey; the Buddhist temple in Los Angeles, in Atlanta, in Colorado, or in Decorah, Iowa. The United States today is the world’s most religiously diverse nation. Understanding the world’s religions today is essential for living peacefully with our next-door neighbors as well as conducting business and diplomacy around the world. Globally and nation-wide religions continue to play pivotal roles in the areas of arts, politics, ethics, economy, education and healing.

The Department of Philosophy and Religion offers an exciting program of religion studies, including courses in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Daoism, and other non-western religions. Course in the program expose students to philosophical, historical, sociological, and textual approaches to the study of religion. Selected topics courses are offered from time to time on such topics as religion and the state, religion and violence, and religious ethics.


8. Will Religion Prepare Me For Professional School?

Law and medical schools have always considered a broad liberal arts education the best preparation for professional study. The study of religion gives that breadth, with its insights into psychology, anthropology, philosophy, history, sociology, political science, media and journalism. Introduction to Religion, Religions of the World, Religion in America, and other religion courses offer a more general foundation for the study of religion, which benefits various professions, but is not offered by various professional schools themselves.

A major or minor in religion studies is not required for admission to a Jewish or Christian seminary, where one prepares for professional ministry. However, religion courses at the undergraduate level can help students decide if this is the field for them.

Students who have either a major or minor in religion studies have gone on to do graduate study at a number of leading Ph.D. programs in religion studies, or seminaries and other graduate programs.


9. Will Religion Prepare Me For a Career In Business?

Business leaders deal with religious issues every day. Can a food product carry the “kosher” label? What religious holidays do employees need? How should the business handle orthodox Jewish, Muslim and Sikh male employees with full beards? How will the new employee uniforms look on Muslim women wearing the veil and Jewish men with yarmulkes? Will everyone at the company picnic eat pork barbecue? The questions are endless.

The study of religion can alert one to a wide range of business issues as well as give insight into a vast array of sensitive issues in employee relations, cultural differences, international politics, and ethical problems. Many misunderstandings and conflicts can be avoided by those who take religious differences into account in their business dealings.

Those considering careers in such fields as international relations, politics, human resources, psychology, medicine, law, engineering, and international business would do well to choose courses in religion, a minor in philosophy and religion studies, or a double major with Philosophy and Religion Studies.


10. What Do Religion Studies Entail?

The academic study of religion explores both the various facets common to many of the world's religions and the particular aspects of individual religions. Many of us in this country grow up with a very limited experience of religion. Unless we live in a major urban area, virtually all of our neighbors are Christian or Jewish. As we become part of a global economy and information network, we become aware of differences and similarities in religious outlook between those religions we are familiar with and the religions of Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. The Department of Philosophy and Religion offers courses not only in the Christian and Jewish traditions but also in world religions or non-western religions. A minor in philosophy and religion studies is especially helpful to those planning to pursue careers as religious leaders, serving as pastors, teachers, rabbis, chaplains, counselors or as workers for social organizations. In addition, a religion major or minor demonstrates to prospective employers that an applicant has a broad understanding of different cultures and thus will be able to function with more ease in the global marketplace.


*This document has consulted a similar one in the website of the Philosophy and Religion Department at Clemson University.