How is a Philosophy and Religion Major or Minor Perfect for a Future Doctor, Lawyer, Software Engineer, and More?

Posted Apr 06, 2023

By Erica Bush ’25 

When considering what major to study, many students choose one with a career in mind, so they may overlook a versatile degree like philosophy and religion.  

We asked Assistant Professor Alex Rocklin, Department of Philosophy and Religion, why students should consider studying philosophy and religion at Otterbein.  

What specific jobs are out in the market for people with an undergraduate degree in philosophy and religion?  

Career outcomes are so much more diverse than most people realize. Alumni from philosophy and religion have gone on to work as lawyers, physicians, social workers, teachers, artists, army surgeons, software engineers, librarians, nurses, choir directors, and chief executives, among others.  

What skills are developed through a degree in philosophy and religion?  

The major in philosophy and religion helps students to develop skills in critical thinking, close reading, clear writing and speaking, and cultural competencies in the world’s great religious and ethical traditions. They come away with highly developed competencies in critical argumentation, the ability to see social and ethical problems from a variety of perspectives, and they understand what the positions and stakes are for all parties at the table.   

What about this degree makes alumni ideal employees? 

Through a major or minor, the study of philosophy and religion helps to prepare students who are seeking jobs in the increasingly diverse world to do so positively, ethically, and constructively and this has never been more important. We are preparing students for “meaningful work” — helping them to develop a set of skills around critical thinking, diversity and ethics.  

Students who are going on to work at hospitals at all levels, for instance, would be at an advantage if they can demonstrate they have cultural competencies related to the diverse populations they will be working with and training in ethics to do so responsibly, so they can provide holistic care for their patients. We can help them do that.  

Engineering firms are international and a grad who can show they understand a broader world is at an advantage; business or advertising majors would do well to show they have thought deeply and critically about acting ethically and can show a commitment to open mindedness. We can help them do that.  

What graduate programs are common for people with an undergraduate degree in philosophy and religion? 

Philosophy and religion graduates are well-prepared to pursue advanced degrees at medical school, seminary, law school, and in library science, computer programming, studio art, history, English, anthropology, philosophy, and divinity. 

Why would you tell a student to study philosophy and religion?  

There are many reasons. For one, studying philosophy and religion is great fun. Students in our majors get to think about the “big questions” about how we should love our lives, organize society, treat other people, we think about death, the meaning of existence and so on.  

Second, a degree in philosophy and religion gives graduates important skills that are coveted by all sorts of employers. They are skilled at thinking through thorny problems, they are aware of how to operate in diverse communities, they can communicate well and see solutions that others often cannot see.  

Third, studying philosophy and religion complements just about any other major that a student is studying. Demonstrating that you know something about our diverse world and can see the ethical dimensions of the sciences, nursing or engineering will give students an advantage when trying to distinguish themselves in a competitive job market.