Almost 80 Percent of Philosophy Majors Favor Socialism, Poll Finds

Overall, socialism isn't winning over the majority of college students. When broken down by major, though, its popularity doubled with philosophy students.

President Donald Trump emphatically declared during his State of the Union address that America would never be a socialist country. Trump used the sentiment to target his 2020 presidential election opponents, but Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, is gaining momentum among college students.

From April to July, a poll found Sanders had a five percent increase in college supporters, putting him right behind Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. While Sanders is coming out as a 2020 frontrunner, a recent poll by College Pulse, a survey and data analytics company, found socialism isn't favored by the overall majority.

Only 39 percent of the 10,590 undergraduates polled had a favorable view of socialism, and the same percentage responded that they had an unfavorable view. When respondents were broken out by major views of capitalism shifted considerably.

Philosophy majors were most likely to view socialism positively, with 78 percent of those polled saying they had at least a somewhat favorable view of it. Anthropology majors were a close second at 64 percent, followed by English majors at 58 percent and international relations, sociology and music majors all at 57 percent.

Least likely to view socialism favorably were accounting and finance majors at 20 percent and 22 percent respectively.

socialism college students philosophy major bernie sanders
Police watch as Occupy Los Angeles protesters march against corporate greed in Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley on October 29, 2011, in southern California. A recent poll conducted by College Pulse found that almost 80 percent of philosophy majors viewed socialism favorably, compared to only 20 percent of accounting majors. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty

Only 12 percent of respondents said they would be enthusiastic about a presidential candidate who described themselves as a socialist, compared to the 22 percent that would be very uncomfortable.

While college students had opinions about presidential candidates that self-described as socialists, the majority of students weren't willing to put a label on themselves. Twenty-eight percent said they identified as a capitalist, 14 identified as a socialist and 38 percent selected the "neither" option.

Although the election is over a year away, candidates have already started addressing the financial burden of higher education. While several candidates, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, introduced plans for solving the student debt crisis and cost of attending college, Sanders' plan for relief was the most radical.

The Vermont senator announced the plan in June, which would forgive the estimated $1.6 trillion in student loan debt held by over 40 million Americans. It would also make community colleges, trade schools and apprenticeship programs free for all, along with providing additional support to low-income students.

The 2020 election will be the first time many voters in Generation Z, those born in the mid-1990s, can cast ballots and a candidate's position on higher education could be a deal breaker. A poll released in June found the fourth most important issue to Generation Z was the ability to go and pay for college.