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Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies offers a major in which students may concentrate in either philosophy or religious studies. Please consult the Radford University catalog for area course requirements for students wishing to concentrate in philosophy.

Benefits of a Philosophy Degree

Develops Analytical Reasoning Skills
If Philosophy is thought of as an art, then its medium would be the argument. Philosophical explanations require the support of well reasoned arguments. Recognizing, analyzing and evaluating arguments develops this skill set Philosophy majors consistently score at the top in postbaccalaureate examinations, such as GRE, LSAT, GMAT and others.

Improves Articulation of Difficult and Abstract Concepts
Most of the ideas that are important to us are very complex. The ability to express difficult concepts is a major component of being able to successfully read and write philosophy. In turn, this ability gives every student of philosophy an edge in all other academic pursuits, which lasts well beyond one's college years.

Fosters Critical Thinking
The ability to consider and analyze arguments gives one the tools required to understand both sides of any issue. This skill is particularly important, not only in an academic context, but also with respect to moral issues and decisions. A person who possesses critical thinking skills has the tools required to make better decisions, do better moral reasoning, and think more clearly about difficult issues.

Instills a Broad Understanding of the History of Ideas
Philosophical traditions date back to the 7th century BCE. Through careful reasoning about human problems, philosophers have pondered questions that range across the human experience. Studying philosophy will necessarily acquaint you with history, great works of science and literature, and the arts. If you're looking for an undergraduate experience that will make you an informed, well-rounded citizen, then philosophy should be on your list.

Career Options

You might be surprised to learn that the vast majority of philosophy majors do not go on to become philosophy professors, but go on to lead their fields in many other areas. A baccalaureate degree in philosophy is an excellent preparation for law school, business school, or graduate study in any area of the humanities or fine or performing arts. Additionally, many people with philosophy degrees go on to start businesses, found non-profit organizations, and much more.

Famous Philosophy Majors

Government
Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City
Thomas Jefferson, U. S. President
Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense
Richard Riorden, Former Mayor of Los Angeles
Justice David Souter, Supreme Court Justice
Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
George Stephanopoulos, former White House Press Secretary

Business
Carl C. Icahn, corporate raider and investor
Frank Moran, founder of Plante and Moran
George Soros, financier and philanthropist

The Arts
Wes Anderson, director
Pearl S. Buck, Nobel Prize for Literature
Ethan Coen, filmmaker
Umberto Eco, novelist
Martin Gardner, author
Richard Gere, actor
Philip Glass, composer
Bruce Lee, martial artist and actor
Elmore Leonard, author
Iris Murdoch, author
Bertrand Russell, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
Jean-Paul Sartre, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
Gene Siskel, movie critic
Ken Follett, author
Michael Frayn, Playwright (Copenhagen) & Novelist
Northrup Frye, English scholar and Literary Critic
Rebecca Goldstein, Novelist and MacArthur Prize winner
Terence Malick, filmmaker
Robert Motherwell, painter
Barnett Newman, painter
Marsha Norman, Playwright and Pulitzer Prize Winner
Wallace Shawn, playwright and actor
Mary Higgins Clark, author
Steve Martin, actor, playwright and author

Other
Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture, civil rights leader
Phil Jackson, NBA coach
Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
Madelyn Murray O'Hare, civil rights activist
Pope John Paul II
Mario Savio, civil rights leader
Albert Schweitzer, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
John Stoltzmann, winner of the World Poker Open
Angela Davis, Social activist and political philosopher
P. Michael Spense, Economist and Nobel Prize Economics 2001
Juan Williams, NPR host “Talk of the Nation,” writer, journalist