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Who Studies Philosophy?
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Studying philosophy is valuable no matter what career path one pursues, from academia to business to entertainment to politics. The following are just a few examples of people in a wide variety of fields who have studied philosophy.

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


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

Chris Dixon, internet entrepreneur and investor
Bachelor's Degree, Columbia University, 1996
Master's Degree, Columbia University, 1999

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

Paul Graham, computer scientist and venture capitalist
Bachelor's Degree, Cornell University, 1986 

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

Richard Moross, founder of MOO
Bachelor's Degree, University of Sussex, 2000

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


Rabbi Michael Lerner, political activist and editor of Tikkun
Bachelor’s Degree, Columbia University, 1964
Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 1972

Pope John Paul II
Ph.D., Jagiellonian University, 1948

Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize winning theologian and missionary
Ph.D., University of Tübingen, 1899


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

News and Journalism

Suroosh Alvi, co-founder of Vice Media
Bachelor's Degree, McGill University, 1991

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

Arts and 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, comedian, 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

Stephen Breyer, SCOTUS photo portrait
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer
Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800
U.S. President Thomas Jefferson
Beverley McLachlin (crop)
Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin
Social Activist Angela Davis
Martin Luther King Jr NYWTS
Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Sheila C. Bair
Former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair
Carly fiorina speaking
Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina
L Sanger
Wikipedia Co-Founder Larry Sanger
Pope John Paul II
Pearl Buck (Nobel)
Pulitzer & Nobel Prize Winner Pearl Buck
Thomas Stearns Eliot by Lady Ottoline Morrell (1934)
Poet T.S. Eliot
Rebecca Goldstein
Author Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
Novelist Charles R. Johnson
Hanif Kureishi
Playwright Hanif Kureishi
MSNBC host Chris Hayes on 2012 Brooklyn Book Festival panel (8024131849)
MSNBC Host Chris Hayes
Juan williams 2011
Journalist Juan Williams
Stephen Colbert 4 by David Shankbone
Comedian Stephen Colbert
Philip Glass 018
Composer Philip Glass
Comedian Chris Hardwick
Rashida Jones
Actor Rashida Jones
Lisa Kennedy Montgomery 2013
TV Personality Kennedy
Deepa Mehta
Filmmaker Deepa Mehta
Alex Trebek 2009
Jeopardy! Host Alex Trebek
Phil Jackson 3 cropped
NBA Coach Phil Jackson
Arian Foster
NFL Player Arian Foster

The above have been sourced and verified to the best of our ability. If you notice an error or would like to suggest additions to the above, please email [email protected].