(cross posted at A Ku Indeed!)
On my Twitter feed, I noticed Stephen Law's post regarding the usefulness of philosophy as an undergraduate major. Law has some interesting graphs showing comparative scores on GREs, both of which I reproduce below the fold with some comments. The graphs show what I think some already know: with respect to writing and verbal scores, philosophy majors far outperform every other major (including English). When it comes to the quantitative portion, philosophy majors score better than all majors in the Humanities, better than quite a few in the sciences, but under the hard sciences generally. Overall, with respect to composite GRE scores, philosophy students are in the top of the field, if not constituting the very top itself. Basically: if you are looking to hire someone with outstanding critical, verbal, and written ability - and someone with strong quantitative ability - hire a philosophy major!
Now, of course - and I realize that many of you are thinking this - none of this shows that philosophy makes anyone any smarter. It could even be that we make the students who come into our programs dumber (I suppose it's possible)! However, that said, what we can claim with certainty is that we tend to graduate the students who, especially on verbal/writing and even with respect to combined GRE scores, tend to perform the best on the GRE. For whatever reason - smart kids self selecting into our programs, the effects of our philosophical rigor, philosophy students being great standardized test takers, or whatever explanation you prefer. So our students should be getting hired at a fast clip. In fact, why businesses would don't red flag students from particular majors performing at the bottom of these scales is a bit beyond me.
One last thought on self-selection, though: it may well be that we tend to get the smarter kids by self-selection (I think this is certainly true). However, it's hard to believe that the upper echelon students will self-select, and stay until graduation, in a major that is not challenging to them. So I tend to think that discounting the rigor of the philosophy program itself as a causal factor is probably not well grounded, though I have no idea how to go about determining the degree to which the program is responsible for these successes.
Here is the graph (sorry for the fuzziness) for the combined writing/verbal vs math chart. The graph of just verbal and writing scores is below it.