2020 Best Online Colleges for Philosophy Degrees

By Diana Zaremba | Updated October 23, 2020

Philosophy is the fundamental study of knowledge, existence, and reasoning. Online philosophy degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Philosophy students are trained to become better thinkers through reading and comprehending complex material on different philosophical concepts. They also take classes in critical thinking, writing, ethics, and communication. It is recommended that students in a liberal arts discipline like philosophy pursue internships or other practical experiences to help them transition into a career after graduation.

The 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 various careers in law, healthcare administration, business, and education. Read on for our list of the best online colleges offering bachelor's in philosophy degrees, which ranks programs based on tuition rates and alumni salaries provided by PayScale. Then, continue reading for information about accreditation and answers to frequently asked questions.

2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Philosophy Degrees

2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Philosophy Badge

The following 12 schools offer the best online bachelor's in philosophy degrees, based on their low tuition rates and high mid-career salary potentials. Graduates of the #1-ranked school, Arizona State University, earn a median salary of $106,000 after earning their BA in Philosophy. Second-ranked University of Arizona offers a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with a specialization in Ethics for $15,000 per year. Graduates of the school's philosophy program earn a median salary of $76,700.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Philosophy Degrees - Ranking Details

Online Philosophy Degree Overview & Career Information

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, doctoral, 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 Degrees in Philosophy

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.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Philosophy

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. 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.

Online Master's Degrees in Philosophy

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.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Philosophy

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.

Online Certificates in Philosophy

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.

The Importance of an Accredited Online Degree in Philosophy

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 by 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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Philosophy Degrees

What can I do with an online degree in philosophy?

Students who earn online degrees in philosophy will acquire valuable critical thinking, analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills that can be applied to numerous occupations, especially when coupled with advanced degrees in other fields. For example, students who intend to pursue careers in law, business, economics, public policy, or social work often earn their bachelor's degrees in philosophy before studying a more specific subject at the graduate level.

Are entry-level jobs available to people who have earned bachelor's degrees in philosophy?

Yes, entry-level positions are available in many industries. For example, graduates with online bachelor's degrees would be eligible for positions as marketing analysts, sales representatives, and paralegals.

How much can I expect to earn with an online degree in philosophy?

Philosophy is a versatile major that provides students with a wide range of skills that can be applied across occupations. With so many career options available, the salary range is hard to define. Of course, there is the option of earning a doctorate in philosophy and becoming a college instructor, with a median annual salary of $79,540.


This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.