To Be or Not To Be a Philosophy Major, that is the Question Bobcats Face

July 25, 2018

According to a recent Forbes magazine article, tech companies throughout the U.S. have discovered something universities have known since they began: Liberal arts thinking makes employees stronger.

Students who choose the new philosophy major at UC Merced — officially launched in the spring— will emerge with the broad foundations employers are seeking, including critical thinking and data analysis skills.

“In developing this major, we combined the best features of classical philosophy with cutting-edge approaches to applied philosophy,” Professor Jeffrey Yoshimi said. “That is a particular strength of this program.”

The six main philosophy faculty members and two affiliates have research backgrounds in philosophies of the mind, of science, of action, morality, politics, entrepreneurship, literature, language and ethics, as well as neuroscience, game theory, phenomenology, ancient philosophy and history of philosophy.

To make sure students can apply what they’ve learned, Yoshimi and the major’s co-developer, Lecturer David Jennings , included a capstone course for seniors, to check comprehension and fill any gaps in understanding before students graduate.

"Philosophy is a vital field of study in its own right, of course, but students may be less aware of how a major in philosophy can prepare them for a variety of careers. The understanding of human nature and the specific skills that students acquire by studying philosophy — logic, critical thinking, and argumentation — are essential for success in law, politics or business,” School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts Dean Jill Robbins said. “At UC Merced, where the important philosophical questions about how we engage with the world and one another are embedded within cognitive science, majors may also go on to careers in science, medicine or psychology.”

Philosophy graduates often pursue careers in law, but are increasingly finding jobs in the tech sector, for example as programmers or data scientists, Yoshimi said.

“The reasoning skills associated with philosophy naturally transfer to those domains. A philosophy major is also associated with strong salary outcomes and high scores on standardized tests for graduate studies,” he said.

Graduate Division

Graduate Admissions:
Phone: (209) 228-4723
Graduate Funding:
Phone: (209) 228-4622
General Inquiries:
Phone: (209) 228-4723
Fax: (209) 228-6906
Mailing Address:
University of California, Merced
ATTN: Graduate Division
5200 N. Lake Road, SSB 310
Merced, CA 95343


Graduate Group

Graduate Group Chair: Kevin Dawson
(209) 228-4173
Graduate Group Chair: 
(209) 228-4032
Graduate Group Coordinator: Monica 
Phone: (209) 228-4105

Additional Resources

Graduate Resource Center
Graduate Peer Mentor Program
Writing Services
Grad Student Association
Resolve a Conflict

University of California, Merced
The first new American research
university in the 21st century, with a
mission of research, teaching and service.
University of California, Merced
5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
T: (209) 228-4400
University of California


Go to top