Diverse Career Pathways for Philosophers
Resources for Career Exploration and Job Searching in Academia, Non-Profits, Government, and the Private Sector
Graduate studies in philosophy train you in a specific set of skills and areas of expertise. These can prepare you for a broad spectrum of careers, including careers within academia, non-profits, government, and the private sector. The resources listed below can help you explore and prepare for careers in all of these fields.
PHIL 488: Philosophy Department Professionalization Course
Students should start participating in professional development opportunities and exploring career options well before they plan to apply for jobs. Students who plan to go on the academic job market should consult with their faculty advisors to determine the appropriate time. Typically, students who plan to apply for academic postdoctoral positions and faculty position do so in their 5th year.
The professional skills course provides a workshop in which graduate students who are about to enter the job market can refine their application materials and skills. Attention is paid to a variety of elements in one’s dossier, including a CV, dissertation abstract, writing sample, statement of teaching philosophy, sample syllabi, evidence of teaching effectiveness, and cover letter. Students also create or refine a personal website, construct brief oral presentations of their work, and practice their interview skills.
Diverse Careers Workshop Series
The department's series of Diverse Careers Workshops features presentations from professional colleagues with a history of graduate study in Philosophy who now work in fields other than academic Philosophy. These invited speakers meet with our graduate students to discuss potential careers outside of academia and explore strategies for preparing themselves for such career paths.
Academic Job market timeline:
(Please note that this is a typical timeline; some institutions will be earlier or later, and postdocs and one-year positions are typically advertised later in the year.)
- March: Enroll in professional skills seminar; continue to submit papers to conferences and journals
- Late August: Ask for letters; provide writers with final (or close enough) versions of your CV, abstract, writing sample, and narrative; provide your teaching-letter writer with your statement of teaching philosophy, CTEC information, sample syllabi, and narrative
- September: Begin looking at philjobs.org; talk to your advisor about scheduling a defense for the Spring; refine your dossier; set up Interfolio; perfect your website
- October & November: Most application deadlines
- Late November & December: Contact from departments interested in interviewing you
- Late December & January: Interviews (now typically by videoconferencing)
- January & February: On-campus interviews
- February & March: Wait to hear final decisions
- April & May: Finish and defend dissertation; TGS deadline for receiving final materials is early May
Northwestern Career Advancement has helpful resources for exploring and applying for a broad range of jobs in all fields. They also offer one-on-one advising for graduate students.
You can also look into the professional development opportunities to develop core competencies for meeting academic and professional goals. These professional development opportunities are announced via The Wire (published weekly via email) and online news.
You may also explore the employment opportunities at Northwestern's Residential Services.
Philosophy-Specific ResourcesAPA's Beyond Academia: Professional Opportunities for Philosophers provides guidance in the form of resources, information, and advice to philosophers who are interested in exploring a wide range of professions outside of academia.
PhilSkills is a collection of interviews with philosophy PhDs in non-faculty careers created by a University of Michigan philosophy PhD.
Humanities Resources and Opportunities
MLA's Connected Academics provides stories from Humanities academics in a variety of careers.
Stanford has a great application, TREE, to evaluate your skills, values and career interests.
Humanities@Work is a UC-wide initiative geared towards UC Humanities and humanistic Social Science MAs and PhDs interested in careers outside/alongside the academy. You may find helpful advice and networking opportunities here.
American Historical Association provides resources and information for career diversity for historians, which can be useful for other humanities students.
American Council of Learned Societies has many fellowship opportunities for humanities.
Graduate Career Development Resources
Imagine PHD is a free, online career exploration and planning tool designed specifically for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in humanities and social sciences.
Inside HigherEd has a career advice section with tips and advice.
Versatile PHD allows you to connect with other PhDs and ABDs with careers outside academia and hear their stories.