Why Marco Rubio Owes Philosophy Majors An Apology

CREDIT: AP Photo/Morry Gash

Marco Rubio speaks during Republican presidential debate at Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) set his sights on an unusual target during Tuesday night’s GOP debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: philosophy majors.

“For the life of me, I don’t don’t know why we stigmatize vocational education,” he said in answer to how he would counter Democrats’ free or subsidized college education proposals. “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders than philosophers.”

Since launching his bid for president, Rubio has repeatedly make snarky comments about the value of a philosophy degree. In speeches in March and again in August, he scoffed at the idea that any student would choose to go into debt to obtain a philosophy degree, insinuating that such a degree won’t help a graduate earn enough to pay back that debt.

Yet this is not the case, and neither is his claim about welders. According to the salary database PayScale.com, the average annual salary for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy is $97,000, while those with an associates degree in welding technology earn just $58,500.


CREDIT: PayScale

This includes not only philosophy professors, but anyone with a philosophy degree.

If Rubio wants to speak to a successful, high-earning philosophy major, he need look no further than his debate stage opponent Carly Fiorina, who graduated with a degree in philosophy from Stanford University, and went on to become the nation’s first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company.

Many other CEOs, hedge fund managers, and entrepreneurs hold philosophy degrees.

Though the question was about the cost of college, Rubio offered no suggestions in Tuesday night’s debate for tackling the skyrocketing price of higher education. He has previously urged indebted students to sell themselves to wealthy private investors, who would then garnish their wages for a decade or longer after graduation.