First and foremost, students in philosophy are taught how to think critically. Students are presented with a situation, problem, or idea, and come to understand it using the tools of formal and informal logic. This involves a process of rational argumentation, where arguments and counter-arguments are presented explicitly and probed for weaknesses. By the end of their course of study, students will be able to reason about a variety of topics, both those encountered daily and those more explicitly abstract and philosophical.

In addition to breaking down concepts and subject matter, students are taught how to synthesize, or bring together a variety of ideas and to make clear their relations. While philosophy encompasses ethics, logic, metaphysics, and more, students learn to combine the insights they gain from various domains and to apply them to other areas and problems. This skill is not restricted to pure philosophy, as students often encounter ideas from other disciplines in class, especially from psychology, neuroscience, physics, and mathematics.

In this way, philosophy students learn to construct a coherent system of thought which integrates a wide variety of information.