Best Philosophy Schools

Updated on January 3, 2024

Philosophy is the study of existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It is one of the fundamental academic disciplines with a history spanning over 2,500 years. Though often overlooked, a degree in philosophy provides students with essential skills in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and persuasive communication that are applicable across industries.

The best philosophy schools have exceptional faculty, resources, and career support to prepare students to critically analyze ideas and effectively communicate concepts. Here are 10 of the top philosophy schools in the United States based on factors like curriculum, career outcomes, selectivity, and more.

Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, MA

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Avg SAT Score: 1510

Tuition: $51,925 per year

Avg Salary: $72,100


The preeminent Ivy League research university, Harvard offers unmatched resources for philosophy students. Its PhD program consistently ranks #1 in the U.S. With a 5:1 student to faculty ratio, undergrads receive highly personalized mentorship from globally renowned philosophers like Michael Sandel. Over 75 philosophy courses span topics from metaphysics to political philosophy. Extracurricular groups, lecture series, conferences and more provide a vibrant intellectual community. Graduates secure academic and industry positions at elite organizations.

University of Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Avg SAT Score: 1530

Tuition: $61,971 per year

Avg Salary: $68,100


The University of Chicago philosophy department enjoys an outstanding global reputation, with 14 faculty members having won Guggenheim Fellowships. Its PhD program ranks #2 in the U.S. Undergraduates can select from over 75 philosophy offerings like human rights, philosophy of science, and Wittgenstein. Small classes, often seminar-style, promote student participation. Nearly half of alumni enter doctoral programs at institutions like Oxford, Stanford, and more. Others leverage analytical skills for careers in law, business, and government.

Princeton University

Location: Princeton, NJ

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Avg SAT Score: 1495

Tuition: $57,690 per year

Avg Salary: $70,900


Princeton’s outstanding faculty have included influential philosophers like Peter Singer, Harry Frankfurt, and Derek Parfit. Over 65 undergraduate courses run the gamut from ancient philosophy to neuroscience. With resources like the Princeton Pros seminar, philosophy journal, and lecture series, students engage deeply with contemporary thinkers. Graduates are well-prepared for competitive PhD programs or to apply philosophical approaches in fields such as policy, education, and law. Nearly all secure professional roles or continue education within six months of graduation.

Yale University

Location: New Haven, CT

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Avg SAT Score: 1515

Tuition: $62,250 per year

Avg Salary: $69,400


Yale’s doctoral program in philosophy repeatedly ranks among the top few nationally. Undergraduates work with globally esteemed faculty via small, seminar-style courses on themes from ethics to metaphysics. With the nation’s oldest PhD program, Yale offers unmatched history in addition to contemporary insights. Passionate, personalized mentorship prepares students for competitive admissions into elite doctoral programs as well as pivots into fields like education, policy, law and more. Yale philosophy graduates transition smoothly into impactful careers soon after commencement.

Stanford University

Location: Stanford, CA

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Avg SAT Score: 1500

Tuition: $57,701 per year

Avg Salary: $70,900


With small class sizes in over 70 philosophy courses, Stanford students partner closely with leading scholars in seminar-style environments, conducting original research and analysis. Offerings feature concentrations unavailable elsewhere, like philosophy of race and loops between computer science and philosophy. Graduates leverage analytical, writing, and rhetorical skills to launch careers and earn advanced degrees at organizations like Google, Harvard Law School, Oxford University and more.

Columbia University

Location: New York, NY

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Avg SAT Score: 1530

Tuition: $64,510 per year

Avg Salary: $69,200


Columbia’s location in New York City provides unmatched opportunities to engage with leaders across industries in America’s intellectual and economic capital. The philosophy department’s four areas of focus are value theory, metaphysics, epistemology and mind, and logic and philosophy of language. With over 70 courses available, students craft personalized concentrations while learning from preeminent faculty. Graduates apply analytical acumen to launch careers in fields like advocacy, policy, law, education, tech and more, often pursuing advanced study at elite universities first.

New York University (NYU)

Location: New York, NY

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Avg SAT Score: 1480

Tuition: $58,832 per year

Avg Salary: $64,100


Located in bustling Greenwich Village, philosophy students at NYU leverage the city as a living lab to engage broad thinkers across nonprofits, museums, startups and more while launching their own initiatives. Offerings span classic philosophical work to modules linking neuroscience and philosophy. With an enviable student-faculty ratio enabling highly-personalized mentoring, the program trains graduates primed for careers leveraging critical analysis, communication, and innovation. Alumni transition smoothly into competitive PhD programs as well as roles from education to publishing, advocacy to entertainment.

University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA)

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 12%

Avg SAT Score: 1360

Tuition: $44,949 for out-of-state students

Avg Salary: $61,800


UCLA’s prime location enables students to connect philosophy to music, entertainment, civic issues and more through abundant experiential learning opportunities. Its PhD program ranks among the nation’s best for placing graduates in academic positions. Undergraduates choose from unique offerings like Latin American philosophy, ethics consultancy and seminars linking emerging technologies and philosophy. With a robust alumni mentorship network, graduates secure competitive doctoral program admissions as well as coveted positions spanning education, policy, law, technology, creative arts and beyond.

University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Avg SAT Score: 1480

Tuition: $64,892 per year

Avg Salary: $70,600


UPenn’s PhD program in philosophy is ranked #1 globally for placement at academic institutions, indicating mastery preparing graduates for educator or researcher roles. Undergraduates partner with distinguished thinkers across over 55 courses spanning value theory, metaphysics, language, science and mind. More than half of students conduct original research. Benefitting from Penn’s ideal location between New York City and Washington, D.C., graduates secure competitive doctoral program admissions as well as coveted positions in advocacy, policy, business, law and more.

Dartmouth College

Location: Hanover, NH

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Avg SAT Score: 1495

Tuition: $61,947 per year

Avg Salary: $67,100


Dartmouth provides extraordinary access to faculty from the outset through seminar-based courses even for first-year students. Focus areas span theory of knowledge, logic, ethics, political philosophy, feminist philosophy and aesthetics. With an exceptional student-faculty ratio of seven to one, the program fosters deep analytical skill-building and accelerator-fast realization of potential. Graduates shine in coveted doctoral programs at institutions like Cambridge, Georgetown, NYU, Northwestern and beyond as well as in impact careers spanning education, policy, law, research, writing and more.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a philosophy degree?

Philosophy majors develop transferable skills in critical thinking, complex analysis, innovation, compelling communication, and more. These prepare them to launch careers in fields like law, policy, diplomacy, business operations, journalism, medicine and further. About half pursue graduate study first, often earning advanced degrees positioning them as educators, researchers and leaders.

Is getting a philosophy degree worth it?

Yes – philosophy graduates enter fields ranging from law to tech to creative arts, with analytical skills leading to fulfilling, high achieving careers. Around half pursue graduate study first, notably in elite law programs. Philosophy majors outscore nearly all others on entrance exams for programs like law, medicine, and business.

What jobs can you get with a philosophy major?

Some top careers for philosophy graduates include roles in law, business operations, management consulting, policy development, journalism, medicine, education, and technology.

What do philosophy majors make?

Mid-career pay for philosophy majors averages around $82,000 annually. With advanced degrees, salaries for roles like legal and healthcare administrators, attorneys, and post-secondary educators reach $144,000 or more in top settings.

Do philosophy majors make good money?

Yes. Philosophy majors out-earn counterparts in social sciences, life sciences and humanities. Mid-career pay averages $82,000, with experienced lawyers, executives, physicians and scholars earning up to $144,000 and beyond at peak. Strong reasoning and communication skills prove broadly applicative.

How much money do philosophy professors make?

The average salary for a philosophy professor is $83,000 annually, ranging from $69,000 early on up to $130,000 in top universities. Those focused on educating future generations at the post-secondary level find the role incredibly meaningful.

Is majoring in philosophy hard?

Philosophy is challenging in different ways than more technical disciplines, relying on reading comprehension, critical analysis, ideation and persuasion. While demanding, small discussion-based classes provide extraordinary faculty support so students reach potential. Passion for existential questions leads to high engagement.

What is the most employable field in philosophy?

Philosophy of law, political philosophy and ethics prepare graduates for impactful work in legal practice, governance, policy development, diplomacy, and corporate leadership. These fields link most clearly to societal roles benefiting from philosophical approaches.

What GRE scores do you need for philosophy grad school?

Competitive applicants to top philosophy PhD programs generally score around 160 verbal and 5.0 analytical writing on the GRE. Master’s programs often have slightly lower expectations, but focus keenly on writing samples conveying analytical capabilities. Strong letters of recommendation emphasizing research potential also play a pivotal role.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 100,000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn more about finance, immigration, and more!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.

Get the Checklist