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Who Studies Philosophy?

After graduating from college, they pursue a wide range of careers - in law, public service, journalism, business, computer science, medicine religion, and the arts. Even students who minor in the subject, or just take a few courses, benefit from the opportunity to investigate the assumptions, concepts, and methods of their major discipline of study.  Listed below are some noted students of Philosophy. 

Infromation from the American Philosophical Association.

Academia, Activism, Business, News and Journalism

Aung San Suu Kui

2002 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Civil Rights Leader

Stewart Butterfield 

Co-founder of Flickr

Juan Williams


Noam Chomsky

Professor, Activst, Author, and Public Intellectual 

Stokely Carmichael / Kwame Ture

Civil Rights Leader

Angela Davis

Social Activist

Sheila Bair

President of Washington College and former FDIC Chair

Complete List of Famed Philosophers in Academia, Activism, Business, and Journalism


Stokely Carmichael / Kwame Ture, civil rights leader
Bachelor’s Degree, Howard University, 1964

Angela Davis, social activist
Bachelor’s Degree, Brandeis University, 1965

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader
Taught social philosophy at Morehouse College, 1961

Aung San Suu Kyi, 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner
Bachelor’s Degree, St Hugh's College Oxford, 1969


Noam Chomsky, professor, activist, author, and public intellectual
Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Rev. John I. Jenkins, President, University of Notre Dame
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Notre Dame, 1976
Master’s Degree, University of Notre Dame, 1978


Herbert Allison Jr., former Fannie Mae CEO
Bachelor’s Degree, Yale University, 1965

Sheila Bair, former FDIC chair
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Kansas, 1975

Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Victoria, 1996
Master’s Degree, University of Cambridge, 1998

Patrick Byrne, founder of
Ph.D., Stanford University, 1995

Paul Draper, winemaker
Bachelor's Degree, Stanford University, 1959

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and presidential candidate
Bachelor’s Degree, Stanford University, 1976

Robert Greenhill, investment banker
Bachelor’s Degree, Yale University, 1958

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn
Master’s Degree, Wolfson College Oxford, 1993

Damon Horowitz, entrepreneur and in-house philosopher at Google
Ph.D., Stanford University, 2007

Carl Icahn, investor and former CEO of TWA Airlines
Bachelor’s Degree, Princeton University, 1957

Gerald Levin, former CEO of Time Warner, Inc.
Bachelor’s Degree, Haverford College, 1960

John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market
Majored in philosophy at University of Texas at Austin and Trinity University (no degree earned), ca. 1975-1977

Lachlan Murdoch, media magnate and son of Rupert Murdoch
Bachelor’s Degree, Princeton University, 1994

Max Palevsky, co-founder of Intel and venture capitalist
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Chicago, 1948
Graduate studies at University of Chicago, University of California Berkeley, and University of California Los Angeles

Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia
Bachelor’s Degree, Reed College, 1991
Ph.D., Ohio State University, 2000

George Soros, investor and philanthropist
Bachelor’s Degree, London School of Economics, 1951

Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal
Bachelor’s Degree, Stanford University, 1989

News and Journalism

Barbara Amiel, Lady Black of Crossharbour, journalist and writer
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Toronto, 1963

John Chancellor, journalist
Majored in philosophy at University of Illinois Navy Pier (no degree earned), 1947-1948

Chris Hayes, journalist, political commentator, and MSNBC host
Bachelor’s Degree, Brown University, 2001

Tamara Keith, journalist and NPR White House correspondent
Bachelor’s Degree, University of California Berkeley, 1999

Kathryn Jean Lopez, journalist, political commentator, and National Review Online editor
Bachelor’s Degree, Catholic University of America, 1997

Stone Phillips, broadcaster
Bachelor’s Degree, Yale University, 1977

Juan Williams, journalist
Bachelor’s Degree, Haverford College, 1976


Goverment, Politics, and Writing

Thomas Jefferson

Third President of the United States

Charles R. Johnson

Author, Middle Passage

Carly Fiorina

Presidential Candidate and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard

Ayn Rand

Author, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged 

Beverley McLachlin

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada

Pearl Buck

Writer and Pulitzer and Nobel Prize Winner

Stephen Breyer

Supreme Court Justice

T. S. Eliot

Nobel Prize-winning essayist, playwright, and poet

Complete List of Famed Philosophers in Government and Politics, and Writing

Government and Politics

William "Bro” Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and former university president
Bachelor’s Degree, Colorado College, 1972
Fulbright Fellowship, Ecole des Haute Etudes and Ecole Normale Superieure, 1977-1978
Ph.D. (History of Consciousness), University of California Santa Cruz, 1982

William Bennett, Secretary of Education and best-selling author
Bachelor’s Degree, Williams College, 1965
Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 1970

Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court Justice
Bachelor’s Degree, Stanford University, 1959

Patrick Buchanan, Politician
Bachelor’s Degree, Georgetown University, 1960

Bill Clinton, U.S. President
Rhodes Scholarship at University College Oxford, 1968-1970

Rudolf Giuliani, former New York City mayor and presidential candidate
Bachelor’s Degree (minor), Manhattan College, 1965

Raisa Gorbachev, former first lady of the Soviet Union
Moscow State University, 1954

Swanee Hunt, former US Ambassador to Austria
Bachelor's Degree, Texas Christian University, 1972

Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President
Bachelor’s Degree, College of William and Mary, 1762

Robert MacNamara, Secretary of Defense and head of the World Bank
Bachelor’s Degree, University of California Berkeley, 1937

Paul Martin, former prime minister of Canada
Bachelor's Degree, St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto, 1961

Beverley McLachlin, first female and longest serving Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Alberta, 1965
Master’s Degree, University of Alberta, 1968

Elizabeth Anne Reid, former women’s affairs adviser to Australian Prime Minister and UN program director 
Bachelor’s Degree, Australian National University, 1965
Bachelor of Philosophy (Post-Graduate) Degree, Somerville College Oxford, 1970

David Souter, Supreme Court Justice
Bachelor’s Degree, Harvard College, 1963

Fred Thompson, former senator and presidential candidate (and erstwhile actor)
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Memphis, 1964

George F. Will, journalist, author, and political commentator
Bachelor’s Degree, Trinity College, 1962

Karen Lerohl Wilson, lawyer and public policy expert
Bachelor’s Degree, College of William and Mary, 1972


Simone de Beauvoir, writer, philosopher, and political activist
Master's Degree, Sorbonne University in Paris, 1929

Pearl Buck, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning writer
Bachelor’s Degree, Randolph-Macon Women’s College, 1914

Mary Higgins Clark, novelist
Bachelor’s Degree, Fordham University, 1979

Susanna Clarke, Hugo Award-winning author
Bachelor’s Degree, St. Hilda’s College Oxford, 1981

Alain de Botton, writer, philosopher, and television presenter
Master's Degree, King's College London, 1992 

E.L. Doctorow, novelist (Ragtime)
Bachelor's Degree, Kenyon College, 1952

Alice Domurat Dreger, author (Galileo's Middle Finger​), activist, and former professor
Ph.D. (History and Philosophy of Science), Indiana University Bloomington, 1995

Umberto Eco, author (The Name of the Rose)
Laurea (Master’s) Degree, University of Turin, 1954

T.S. Eliot, Nobel Prize-winning essayist, publisher, playwright, and poet
Bachelor’s Degree, Harvard College, 1909
Continued philosophical studies at Harvard and at the Sorbonne.

Ken Follett, author (Eye of the Needle)
Bachelor’s Degree, University College London, 1970

Michael Frayn, playwright (Copenhagen) and novelist
Bachelor’s Degree, Emmanuel College Cambridge, 1957

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author (Plato at the Googleplex) and Macarthur Fellow
Bachelor’s Degree, Barnard College, 1972
Ph.D., Princeton University, 1977

Sam Harris, author (The End of Faith) and co-founder of Project Reason<

Bachelor’s Degree, Stanford University, 2000

Christopher Hitchens, author
Bachelor’s Degree, Balliol College Oxford, 1967

Charles R. Johnson, novelist (Middle Passage)
Master’s Degree, Southern Illinois University, 1973
Ph.D., Stony Brook University, 1988

Hanif Kureishi, playwright, screenwriter, and novelist
Bachelor's Degree, King's College London, 1977

Yann Martel, author (Life of Pi)
Bachelor’s Degree, Trent University, 1985

Iris Murdoch, author (Under the Net)
Bachelor’s Degree, Somerville College Oxford, 1942

Ayn Rand, author (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged)

Bachelor’s Degree, Petrograd State University, 1924

Susan Sontag, writer and Macarthur Fellow
Master’s Degree, Harvard University, 1955

Studs Terkel, oral historian and writer
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Chicago, 1932

Miguel de Unamuno, author (Abel Sánchez)
Bachelor's Degree, University of Madrid, 1883
Ph.D., University of Madrid, 1884

David Foster Wallace, author (Infinite Jest)
Bachelor’s Degree, Amherst College, 1985

Elie Wiesel, author (Night)
Studied at the Sorbonne, 1948-1951


Arts and Entertainment, Religion, and Sports

Stephen Colbert

Comedian and TV Host

Pope John Paul II


Susan Sarandon


Harrison Ford


Lana Del Ray


Kim Thayil

Musician (Soundgarden)

Deepa Mehta

Director and Screenwriter

Bruce Lee

Martial Artist

Complete List of Famed Philosophers in Arts and Entertainment, Religion, and Sports

Arts & Entertainment 

Wes Anderson, filmmaker
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Texas at Austin, 1990

Ethan Coen, filmmaker (of the Coen Brothers)
Bachelor’s Degree, Princeton University, 1979

Stephen Colbert, comedian and TV host
Majored in philosophy at Hampden-Sydney College (transferred), 1982-1984

Wes Craven, filmmaker
Master's Degree, Johns Hopkins University, 1964

Arthur Danto, art critic and philosopher
Ph.D., Columbia University, 1952

Lana Del Rey, singer-songwriter
Bachelor’s Degree, Fordham University, 2008

Dessa, rapper, singer, and poet
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Minnesota, 2003

Harrison Ford, actor
Majored in philosophy at Ripon College (no degree earned), 1960-1964

Richard Gere, actor
Majored in philosophy at University of Massachusetts Amherst (no degree earned), 1967-1969

Ricky Gervais, comedian and creator of The Office
Bachelor’s Degree, University College London, 1983

Philip Glass, composer
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Chicago, 1956

Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Futurama
Bachelor's Degree (studied philosophy but did not declare any major), Evergreen State College, 1977

Chris Hardwick, TV host and founder of
Bachelor's Degree, University of California Los Angeles, 1995

Theo James, actor
Bachelor's Degree, University of Nottingham, 2007 

Zola Jesus, musician
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Wisconsin Madison, 2010

Duncan Jones, director, producer, screenwriter
Bachelor's Degree, The College of Wooster, 1995
Graduate studies (no degree earned), Vanderbilt University, 1995-1997

Rashida Jones, actor
Bachelor's Degree, Harvard University, 1997

Kennedy, TV personality and former MTV VJ
Bachelor's Degree, University of California Los Angeles, 2005

Stacy London, stylist and host of What Not To Wear
Bachelor’s Degree, Vassar College, 1991

Terrence Malick, filmmaker (The Thin Red Line)
Bachelor’s Degree, Harvard University, 1965
Rhodes Scholarship at Magdalen College Oxford, 1966-1968
Taught philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1968

Steve Martin, comedian, actor, and musician
Majored in philosophy at California State University Long Beach (no degree earned), 1963-1967

Deepa Mehta, director and screenwriter
Bachelor’s Degree, University of New Delhi, circa 1971

Robert Motherwell, painter and printmaker
Bachelor's Degree, Stanford University, 1936

Steve Reich, composer
Bachelor's Degree, Cornell University, 1957

Buffy Sainte-Marie, singer-songwriter
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1983

Susan Sarandon, actor
Bachelor’s Degree (minor), Catholic University of America, 1969

Willard Scott, actor
Bachelor’s Degree, American University, 1953

Wallace Shawn, actor and playwright
Bachelor's Degree (Philosophy, Politics, & Economics), Magdalen College Oxford, 1968

Gene Siskel, film critic
Bachelor’s Degree, Yale University, 1967

Elliott Smith, singer-songwriter, musician 
Bachelor’s Degree, Hampshire College, 1991

Kim Thayil, musician (Soundgarden)

Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy!
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Ottawa, 1961

Christy Turlington, model
Bachelor’s Degree, New York University, 1999


Arian Foster, American football player (Houston Texans) 
Bachelor’s Degree, University of Tennessee, 2009

Phil Jackson, NBA coach
Bachelor’s Degree, University of North Dakota, 1967

Bruce Lee, martial artist
Studied philosophy at University of Washington (no degree earned), 1961-1964

Michael McCaskey, president/chairman of the Chicago Bears
Bachelor’s Degree, Yale University, 1965