Vindication is sweet. Contrary to earlier reports from a certain corner of the philosophy blogosphere, a good number of pluralist philosophy Ph.D. granting programs excel at getting their students into tenure-track jobs. And they are also exceptionally good places for women to study philosophy.
The database amassed by Carolyn Dicey Jennings and her colleagues (Patrice Cobb, Chelsea Gordon, Bryan Kerster, Angelo Kyrilov, Evette Montes, Sam Spevack, David W. Vinson, and Justin Vlasits) for the 2016 Academic Placement Data and Analysis show that of the roughly 117 programs for which there is data,
- the pluralist (meaning not overwhelmingly analytic) departments SIU, Oregon, Villanova, DePaul, Yale, Emory, Northwestern, and Duquesne are in the top quarter for students getting permanent academic positions;
- also in the top half are Vanderbilt, Fordham, and Stony Brook;
- of these programs, Vanderbilt, DePaul, Oregon, New Mexico, Emory, and Villanova are in the top half for percentage of women Ph.D.s
- other solid programs for women and continental philosophers (meaning hovering toward the middle for job placement) include Northwestern and Duquesne
So, while no one goes into a philosophy graduate program for the great job prospects, anyone willing to take the risk of spending at least half a decade on the training is wise to follow her heart. If you want to study Dewey or Heidegger or Kristeva or Deleuze or whomever in a pluralist or continental program, such as any of the above, go for it.
You can see this all for yourself here at this sortable database. Just click at the top of the column your interested in to see how the programs line up.
(Caveat: if I have failed to include a pluralist department in the above categories, please let me know.)
In the age of big data, crowdsourcing, and the philosophy hive mind, why not let the entire philosophical community contribute to showcasing all the great work going on in philosophy graduate programs around the world — and by extension how well trained are the people teaching undergraduates at liberal arts and other colleges and universities? Thanks to Shawn A. Miller, this alternative is rolling and I am delighted to be a part of it.
UPDATE: I think the philwiki that I am overseeing, on twentieth century continental philosophy, will be live in about a week, maybe sooner. It will be able to list all the PhD programs in the world with at least one faculty member specializing in some area of 20th century continental philosophy (substantiated by a university website or publicly accessible CV). That is the baseline. Then there is the capacity to find out how numerous the faculty is and what sub-areas are specialized in. And there will be links to faculty websites and philpapers profilles. All this will depend on the philosophical community updating the wiki. I’ll put forward a really good start, then it will be up to all of us to keep making it better.
UPDATE: The philwiki on 20th century continental philosophy is available here: http://philwiki.net/20thcenturycontinental/. Note that this is not a finished product — not at all — but the start of an ongoing project for those doing work in continental philosophy to continue filling out and improving. If you do not see yourself or your program here, and you think you or it should be, please go into the edit mode and make the additions. There are lots of instructions on the site. And I’m happy to help too.
To continue the theme of philosophy ranking on a positive note, it is indeed easy to see how different programs rank in terms of placement and grad student support. The website PhDs.org has the NRC data on its website in an easily searchable form. (NRC for the National Research Council which has released its pre-publication report to be published by the National Academies press.) In addition to student success, you can rank by repuational quality, research productivity, diversity, and student resources. Here’s a link to the philosophy grad programs rankings. Under “choose your own priorities” you can find get the rankings by whatever criteria you select.
I know there are more pressing matters in the world today, but I want to spread the word about a little book I just read, having picked it up from the Columbia University Press table at the SPEP meeting last week. (That’s the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy — doesn’t exactly slip off the tongue like “SPEP”.) The book is From Student to Scholar: A Candid Guide to Becoming a Professor. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve already traversed this path, but I still tend to wonder whether I missed anything along the road. Having finished the book, I can say “no,” nothing new here. But that is only because I had a lot of excellent advice along the way, and I was outgoing enough to network a lot, and had enough hubris to try to publish with great publishing houses (like Columbia). I think a lot of others never learned these lessons, or learned them too late, and many graduate students are just beginning on the road. For all those just beginning or still at the early stages prior to tenure, I highly recommend Cahn’s book. For those who mentor graduate students and junior faculty, I recommend that they read this as well.
It’s a pleasant, short read at under 100 pages. The ten chapters are these:
1. Graduate School
2. The Dissertation
4. The First Interview
5. Dramatis Personae
6. The Second Interview
and then a finale and an epilogue.
It’s a good read, chalk full of sage advice on how to navigate the journey successfully from someone who made it all the way to being provost at CUNY.
This blog of mine gets lots of hits from people curious about the rankings of philosophy departments. If you are a student worried about your future, hell bent on picking the right graduate school that will ease your path, I suggest that you worry less about the rankings, focus more on finding the place that will prepare you to do what you love, look for faculty members whose work you admire, and buy and consult regularly Steven Cahn’s fabulous little book.
I seem to slack off on blogging in the summer. Good thing this isn’t a job. I’ve spent most of the summer at home at the computer, at the pool, with the kids, doing a little writing, random reading, following the Olympics, going to the gym, cringing at McCain’s ads, hoping Barack can live up to the hype and be what we hope he can be, going for walks, and looking forward to the fall when I’ll be on sabbatical, of sorts, working on my next book.
I notice that certain of my former posts continue to get lots of hits. One set is about philosophy rankings. Clearly there’s a lot of angst out there about what the best graduate schools are for doctoral work in philosophy. Hey, follow your dream, and follow the people you want to study with. Another is my old post about Barack Obama’s mother. Occasionally I’ll get a comment from some right-winger who wants to paint her as a runaway mom who sloughed off her motherly responsibilities, never mind that Obama states in his autobiography that he chose to stay in Hawaii with his grandparents to attend high school there, a very nice high school indeed.
So while I’ve been absent from posting, the blog continues to have some use. By the end of August I will probably start posting again more regularly. Until then, enjoy the sun.
Last summer Julie Van Camp put up a list of the percentage of women tenured/tenure-track faculty in 98 U.S. doctoral programs. The range is from 50 percent at Penn State and the University of Georgia (brava!) down to six percent at the University of Florida and the University of Texas, five percent at the University of Michigan, and zero percent at the University of Dallas. Dallas has only eight people on the faculty so maybe it is just going through a bad spell. But Florida, Michigan, and Texas have no such excuse. Only one out of 17 faculty at Florida are women, only one out of 22 at Michigan, and an appalling two out of 32 at Texas. Shame, shame, shame. On top of it all, the 90 percent-male evaluators of the Leiter report ranked Michigan 3d and Texas 13th among Ph.D. granting universities, while the five universities with the most women on their faculty don’t even make the list. Surprised?
[Correction: I’ve learned that Julie Van Camp first started tracking the percentage of tenured/tenure track women in Ph.D. granting philosophy programs beginning in 2004 and updates the list a couple of times a year.]