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A degree in philosophy is ideal for those with an analytical mindset looking to gain critical thinking skills essential in many industries — such as business, teaching, and ministry. In addition to honing critical thinking, students will develop strong problem-solving skills, effective communication, and the ability to construct and evaluate arguments.

Graduates can become Human Resources specialists, earning a median salary of $67,650, or members of the clergy, with a median salary of $58,920. With further education, they can pursue careers as educators, where high school teachers see a median salary of $65,220, or as lawyers, with a median salary of $145,760.

The average completion timeline for an online bachelor’s in philosophy is four years, identical to that of traditional programs, with an average cost of $25,910 for the 2020-2021 academic year.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Philosophy Program

Choose your area of study

While philosophy is already relatively niche, you can further align your education with your interests and career goals. Not all programs offer specific specializations, but you’ll want to find one with courses that support your focus. Consider asking yourself:

  • What philosophical topics am I most interested in?
  • Which courses have I enjoyed the most so far?
  • Do I prefer theoretical or applied philosophy?

Different specializations may include options like ethics, political philosophy, and metaphysics. Ethics is ideal for those interested in moral issues and public policy, political philosophy suits those drawn to governance and justice, and metaphysics often appeals to those curious about existence and reality.

Research schools and programs

Now that you’ve decided on an area of study, you can focus on researching schools and programs. You may come into this process with some questions of your own, but here are a few others worth considering:

  • What are the faculty’s qualifications and research areas?
  • Does a recognized accrediting body accredit the program?
  • Are there opportunities for internships or research projects?
  • What is the average class size and student-to-faculty ratio?
  • What support services are available for online students?

Most of this information will be readily available on program websites, but many students also benefit from attending a virtual open house or contacting an admissions counselor.

Prepare for tests and applications

Test and application prep for your top programs may feel daunting, but you can simplify this process by creating a general timeline. For example, it’s generally ideal to request transcripts and letters of recommendation at least six months before applications are due, as these materials can take some time to gather. Similarly, you’ll want to draft your personal statement or essay responses four months before any deadlines to allow enough time for revisions.

While some programs have moved to test-optional policies, many still require standardized test scores. Consider enrolling in a SAT or ACT prep program at least four months before the test date to boost your scores.

Select your program

When acceptance letters arrive, you may have a big decision to make. Take a moment to revisit your initial research criteria, focusing on what’s most important to you — like curriculum relevance, faculty you’re excited to learn from, and support services for online learners. Then, reassess the total cost of attendance for each program, including tuition, fees, and living expenses, and compare these costs to any financial aid offers.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

To pay for your degree, start by filing the FAFSA. This will help you see early on if you qualify for any federal grants — for example, the Pell Grant — and determine your eligibility for federal loans, which can be helpful to know ahead of time. Then, seek institutional scholarships and grants and explore work-study programs for additional income. If you’re currently employed in a related field, you may be eligible for employer tuition reimbursement, which can significantly offset costs.

When considering loans, prioritize federal loans over private ones due to better interest rates and repayment options.

Best 50 Accredited Online Bachelor’s in Philosophy Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Philosophy Programs_2024 badge
Intelligent Pick
University of Arizona
Best Alumni Network
University of Memphis
Best Public Institution
University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Best Public Research Institution
Arizona State University
Best Faculty
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Best Specialization Options
Portland State University
Most Affordable
Fort Hays State University
Best Student Support Services
University of Missouri at St. Louis
Best Liberal Arts Institution
UMass at Dartmouth
Most Flexible Admissions
University of Southern Mississippi

University of Tennessee at Martin

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

University of New Orleans

Holy Apostles College and Seminary

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the best online bachelor’s in philosophy programs at top colleges across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for postsecondary education. The programs on our list have been accredited by reputable organizations, such as the Higher Learning Commission and New England Commission of Higher Education, that assess the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of colleges and universities.

We evaluated each school’s program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and the resources provided for online students. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online bachelor’s in philosophy programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Philosophy Program?

By opting for online learning to pursue your bachelor’s in philosophy, you can anticipate a flexible and comprehensive education in the fundamental aspects of philosophical thought. Curriculums include courses in core areas such as ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and the history of philosophy.

As a student, you’ll engage with the works of prominent philosophers, from ancient figures like Plato and Aristotle to contemporary thinkers. These programs emphasize critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to construct and evaluate arguments, all highly valued in various industries. Most online philosophy programs require the completion of a senior thesis, which serves as a capstone project, allowing students to conduct in-depth research on a topic of their choice.

The average completion timeline is typically four years for full-time students. However, the flexibility of online learning often accommodates part-time students, who might take five to six years to complete the degree, depending on pace and other commitments.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online bachelor’s in philosophy program

  • Introduction to Philosophy: Often one of the first courses students take, this course introduces learners to the significant questions and methods of philosophy. Students will explore the nature of reality, knowledge, and morality, gaining a broad understanding of philosophical inquiry and its historical development.
  • Cosmology and Culture: In this course, students examine how different cultures throughout history have understood the cosmos. They study different cosmological theories and their impacts on cultural beliefs, practices, and worldviews, gaining insights into the relationship between scientific and philosophical perspectives on the universe.
  • World Religions: This course overviews the major world religions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Participants will learn about these religions’ fundamental beliefs, practices, and historical development, as well as their philosophical underpinnings and impact on global culture.
  • Philosophical Issues in Death and Dying: Students in this course explore the intellectual dimensions of death, dying, and the afterlife. Topics include the nature of mortality, ethical issues surrounding end-of-life care, and diverse cultural and philosophical perspectives on what it means to die well.
  • Politics and the Law: This course examines the intersection of philosophy, politics, and legal theory. Students will engage with concepts like justice, rights, and the role of government, analyzing philosophical arguments that have shaped political and legal systems throughout history and in contemporary society.

Online Bachelor’s in Philosophy Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online bachelor's in philosophy degree program?

Most of these programs offer a relatively straightforward application process, typically including:

  • An online application form
  • Official high school transcripts or GED equivalent
  • Standardized test scores, if required
  • A personal statement or essay
  • Letters of recommendation

Talking to an admissions counselor can provide insights into program specifics and help ensure you meet all requirements, increasing your chances of a successful application.

How much does an online bachelor's in philosophy degree cost?

For the 2020-2021 academic year, the National Center for Education Statistics reported average undergraduate tuition at $25,910. However, many factors can cause this number to fluctuate, including whether the institution is public or private and your residency status.

Beyond tuition, there are other expenses that you’ll want to prepare for, such as technology fees, course materials, and textbooks. While these costs might seem minimal compared to tuition, they can add up over time and significantly impact the overall cost of attendance.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor's in philosophy degree?

Obtaining an online bachelor’s in philosophy takes four years for full-time students, while part-time students may take up to six years to complete degree requirements. The total number of required credits, which can vary by program, also affects completion time — making it essential to assess credit requirements early to determine how long it’ll take you to graduate.

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