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Philosophy and Religious Studies

Why Study Philosophy and Religious Studies

Oh, the places you can go with Philosophy and Religious Studies at Central!

Central's programs provide students with the broad historical knowledge necessary to understand the world's great philosophical and religious movements. The philosophy program offers a comprehensive examination of western philosophical history, with students engaging the thought of philosophers ranging from Plato to Levinas through close reading of primary texts. The department also offers courses in Indian and Chinese philosophy in order to broaden our students' appreciation for the world's rich intellectual heritage.
The religious studies specialization enables interested students to examine objectively, from philosophical, historical and text critical viewpoints, the great world religions. In addition to comparative courses on the world's great religious and scriptural traditions, the department offers specialized upper division courses in both eastern and western religions. Several departmental faculty are internationally respected scholars within their specialization and recognized for embodying the teacher-scholar model present at Central Washington University.

Many students believe that philosophy and religious studies aren't practical majors. On the contrary, in today's high-tech world, the abstract reasoning skills, analytical tools and communication skills you obtain through studying philosophy are increasingly valuable. As Peter Veruki, head of external relations at Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management, recently noted, "It's about maturity and leadership rather than how many accounting courses did you take. Companies are going to start to look at the fundamental value set of an individual and their basic education. Did they study philosophy and culture and history rather than just accounting, finance and engineering? Fast-forward 20 or 30 years, we're going to find [business leaders] who maybe majored in philosophy rather than business."

As a translatable skill, philosophy prepares you to adapt to new technical innovations, while particular concrete training quickly becomes outdated. The following statistics illustrate the value of a philosophical education:

According to a study of GRE scores from 1988-1991, philosophy majors do exceptionally well on the GRE. On average, philosophy majors had:

  • the highest mean verbal score of students in all majors.
  • the second highest mean analytic score of students in all majors.
  • a higher mean quantitative score than all other humanities and social science majors

A similar analysis of the LSAT in 1994 study shows that:

  • The mean LSAT for Philosophy majors is higher than it is for both Political Science and Pre-Law majors, the typical majors in Pre-Law programs. 
  • The mean LSAT score for Philosophy majors is the fifth highest for all humanities and social science majors.

Philosophy majors likewise excel on the GMAT. From 1991-1996:

  • Philosophy majors earned a higher mean score than for any type of Business major.
  • Outside of the hard sciences, Philosophy has had either the first or second highest mean score on the GMAT each year. 
  • Including the hard sciences, the mean GMAT score for Philosophy majors is fourth or fifth highest of all majors.

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