20 Best Value Small Colleges for a Philosophy Degree

Updated November 29, 2022

By BVS Staff February 2017 The study of philosophy can provide insight on how people should behave, what people can really know, logical argumentation, or even what constitutes beauty. The analytical skills and abstract concepts learned from studying philosophy can translate to many prominent fields. Some possible career paths for philosophy graduates have a median pay ...

BestValueSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Click here for high resolution badge.

By BVS Staff

The study of philosophy can provide insight on how people should behave, what people can really know, logical argumentation, or even what constitutes beauty. The analytical skills and abstract concepts learned from studying philosophy can translate to many prominent fields. Some possible career paths for philosophy graduates have a median pay of over $100,000 a year, like becoming a lawyer.

The beginning of your philosophy journey starts here at the 20 best small colleges for philosophy majors on a budget. Each college listed offers at least two majors, minors, and/or concentrations for students studying for a bachelor's degree in philosophy, or a related area. The colleges listed also stick to these two important criteria:

  • Overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 50%
  • Estimated annual cost of less than $26,000 a year (as shown on College Navigator)

Read on to learn what college has the best value on the market.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Top 20 Best Value Small Colleges for a Degree in Philosophy

  1. Augsburg College

    Minneapolis, MN



    Spanning topics from the ancient and medieval to the modern and contemporary, Augsburg College's affordable undergraduate philosophy program is a great introduction to the history of Western thought. In addition to reading pivotal thinkers like Plato, Hegel, and Russell, philosophy majors at Augsburg are trained in critical thinking, speaking, and writing to learn how to communicate difficult ideas with confidence. Many students also pursue an honors thesis project, for which they receive one-on-one mentorship from experienced faculty. But Augsburg's most unique offering is its interdisciplinary major in Computational Philosophy, which leverages both disciplines to investigate artificial intelligence, logic, and the philosophy of mind.

  2. Southwestern University

    Georgetown, TX



    The Southwestern University Philosophy Department builds on the Western philosophical tradition to provide broad perspectives on power relations across the globe. While many top small colleges for philosophy majors dwell on the classics, Southwestern features "Critical Histories" courses every semester that pit these revered tomes against modern/contemporary theory. Southwestern's undergraduate philosophy curriculum also integrates Feminist Studies, Race and Ethnicity Studies, Marxist theory, and other strands of contemporary progressive thought to challenge students' perspectives on culture and politics. This rigor is reflected in the undergraduate research which is features on the departmental website.

  3. Lake Forest College

    Lake Forest , IL



    With devoted faculty and a comprehensive core curriculum, Lake Forest College is one of the most affordable and stimulating top colleges for a philosophy degree. In their first few years, Philosophy majors at Lake Forest all are required to take coursework that spans from ancient Greek philosophy and to modern analytical theory to guarantee that they acquire an appreciation for their intellectual forebears. In their senior year, they then utilize this foundation to produce a senior thesis or independent research project. Lake Forest is also home to an Ethics Center, which is devoted to studying social and politics issues around the globe.

  4. La Sierra University

    Riverside, CA



    La Sierra University's individualized Philosophical Studies Program provides not only a complete overview of the philosophical canon, but an intellectual toolkit that will be indispensable in countless careers, as well. Through coursework in logic, religion, scientific thinking, and more, philosophy majors at La Sierra gain new perspectives on important questions that relate to every facet of life. Since the philosophy curriculum is so broad, this top small college for philosophy also provides advisors to help undergraduates choose the classes they need to meet their graduation requirements as well as their personal academic needs.

  5. Austin College

    Sherman, TX



    Austin College uses its platform as a Presbyterian College to advance an ethical and principled worldview. To this end, Austin's philosophy major features robust mixture of metaphysics, religion, ethics, politics, critical theory, and other analyses of the world in which we live. From "Ancient and Medieval Philosophy" to "Modern Logic," philosophy majors at this affordable small school for philosophy are confronted with challenging ideas that will provide them with traction in approaching complex issues in their academic and/or professional careers. Austin also offers a minor in Ethics for those who wish to specialize in the study of morality as it relates to justice, religion, and truth.

  6. Hiram College

    Hiram, OH



    The affordable undergraduate philosophy program at Hiram College excels by prioritizing the analysis of primary source texts above all. Where many comparable programs accept secondary literature as an acceptable introduction to dense and intractable thinkers like Kant and Hegel, Hiram encourages all philosophy majors to discuss the primary texts alone and develop their own interpretive framework as they go. This hard-line approach is as rigorous as it is rewarding, and many philosophy majors at Hiram even opt to take on the additional challenge of writing an honors thesis in spite the difficulties.

  7. Franklin and Marshall College

    Lancaster, PA



    Franklin and Marshall College may not be the smallest school on this list, but its Department of Philosophy is certainly in the running for the best student-faculty ratio. With just five students for every professor, Franklin and Marshall provides an unprecedented level of intimacy and exposure both in and outside of the classroom. F&M also regularly invites leading scholars from the likes of Yale and the U of I to visit the department, give lectures, and engage with majors on a one-on-one basis. Thanks to the small scale of the program, philosophy majors at this top college for a philosophy degree can also pursue interdisciplinary programs such as Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind.

  8. Birmingham Southern College

    Birmingham, AL



    Like Franklin and Marshall, the philosophy department at Birmingham Southern College encourages undergraduates to devise a course of study that suits their unique needs and goals. From interdisciplinary programs that combine philosophy with the likes of religion, politics, and/or economics to a "create your own major" initiative, this top small school for philosophy gives students a wide berth for their intellectual journey. This naturally leads to many creative and inventive independent research projects at the undergraduate level. BSC philosophy faculty also promote lateral thinking during the January Exploration Term, a period between semesters when the department offers courses in the philosophy of film, religion, and even Led Zeppelin lyrics.

  9. Augustana College

    Rock Island, IL



    Augustana College tackles the study of philosophy with a three pronged approach: topics, texts, and tools. In this way, this affordable college for a philosophy degree is able to introduce multiple millennia worth of vital information in just four years. While "topics" and "texts" run the gamut of the philosophical traditions, the "tools" are much more targeted. Courses in Critical Reasoning and Modern Formal Logic guarantee that all philosophy majors are equipped to make intelligent arguments that are thoroughly justified at the most granular level. Learning opportunities don't end there, however; outside the classroom, study abroad programs in Berlin and the Socratic Society of Augustana (a philosophy club) keep the educational experience going around the clock.

  10. Millsaps College

    Jackson, MS



    Millsaps College may be small, but its affordable undergraduate philosophy program is second to none. Millsaps' philosophy curriculum spans dozens of courses in nearly as many different topics and fields to provide the most rigorous and comprehensive education possible. Most are led by one of Millsaps' four dedicated philosophy professors, all of whom are active scholars in fields like ethics, religion, politics, and aesthetics. Notably, Millsaps also offers an interdisciplinary degree program in Religion and Philosophy that integrates the two departments' respective strengths and areas of expertise to provide a uniquely rewarding education.

Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools

At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs. We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.

Similar Industries

Factors Considered When Ranking Schools

Each of these top schools offers at least two majors, minors, and/or concentrations for students seeking a bachelor's degree in philosophy (which also includes programs in ethics and western intellectual traditions). In addition, they each maintain an overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 50%. Of course, to be a best value, these top-ranked schools also have to demonstrate a genuine commitment to affordable education - which means meeting our net price requirements. All of the programs on this ranking have estimated annual costs (as reported on College Navigator) of less than $26,000 a year. But which of these is the most affordable college for a philosophy degree? Scroll down to #1 to find out!

Want to find out exactly how much it will cost for you to attend one of these affordable undergraduate philosophy programs? Check out the U.S. Department of Education's Net Price Calculator Center.

See also: The 100 Most Affordable Small Colleges in America 2015


College Navigator

Additional Resources

Use articles and resources to uncover answers to common questions, get guidance on your goals, and learn about applying to schools.

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.