Philosophy PhD Programs: Australian National University and Stanford University

In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are Australian National University and Stanford University. These programs were chosen randomly, using an app called "Pickster." (Next week's picks are listed at the bottom of this post.) I updated this information myself, using the program's placement page and what I could find online. I aim to construct these posts with an eye to what can be seen about the programs from the APDA data set alone. This information has come from several sources, including current students and graduates. Prospective graduate students should look at the websites for the programs, linked above, for more complete information. The running tally includes select numbers from all of the programs covered so far.


  • ANU and Stanford are both mid-sized, prestigious programs
  • The academic placement for Stanford is very good, and better than for ANU
  • Yet, graduates of ANU rate themselves more likely to recommend the program than graduates of Stanford
  • Both have a greater number of graduates and permanent academic placements in Value Theory
  • Stanford has higher than average racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity

Overall placement, 2012-present
ANU appears to have had 46 graduates in this period, whereas Stanford appears to have had 47. Of ANU's 46 graduates, 39 went into academic or unknown employment, and they placed 17 of these into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (44%), with 9 of these in a program that offers a PhD in philosophy (23%). Stanford placed 27 of 38 into permanent academic positions (71%), with 10 in a philosophy program with a PhD (26%). Of ANU's other graduates, 12 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 7 are in other temporary academic positions, 7 are in nonacademic positions, and 3 have no or unknown placement. (ANU's placement page does not include names and ends with 2017 graduates, so I had to use dissertation records and match them to the placement page.) Of Stanford's other graduates, 8 have postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 3 have temporary academic placements, and 9 are in nonacademic positions. The average salary of ANU graduates is $88,255, whereas it is $66,429 for Stanford graduates. 86% of graduates from both programs preferred an academic job.

Note that removing nonacademic positions from the total number of graduates in reporting permanent academic placement is a new standard for this project. According to the old standard, the overall proportion of 2012-2016 graduates from the 135 programs tracked by APDA in permanent academic positions is 36%, with 11% in PhD granting programs. The current database values for all 2012 and later graduates according to the new standard are 43% and 14%, respectively, with an overall average salary of $68,542 and 90% who prefer an academic job.

Areas of Specialization, by Category
Including all past and current students in the APDA database, 37% of ANU students are in LEMM, 40% are in Value Theory, 6% are in History and Traditions, and 17% Science, Logic and Math. 22% of Stanford students are in LEMM, 35% are in Value Theory, 17% are in History and Traditions, and 26% are in Science, Logic and Math. For ANU, the majority of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in Value Theory (59%), as were the plurality from Stanford (41%).

Note that the current database values for all past graduates and current students are 28% in LEMM, 34% in Value Theory, 24% in History and Traditions, and 14% in Science, Logic, and Math.

Including all past graduates and current students, 27% of those from ANU are women, as are 31% of Stanford students.

29% is the overall proportion reported by APDA in 2017. The current database percentage is 31% for all past graduates and current students.

Including all past graduates and current students, 7% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from ANU and 38% from Stanford identified as something other than White, non-Hispanic.

13% is the overall proportion reported by APDA in 2017. The percentage from the Diversity and Inclusivity survey is 14%. The current database percentage is 20%, but this is likely inflated relative to the true population due to some of our data gathering efforts.

20% of those from ANU were first generation college students, as were 33% of Stanford students.

The percentage of all survey respondents who are first generation college students is 23.4%, compared to 31% for all United States doctoral degree recipients in 2015.

Students from ANU provided one public comment on how philosophy could be more inclusive:

Quotas/affirmative action in graduate admissions and, perhaps, hiring would be an appropriate first step. Changing the culture that leads to problems of inclusivity is difficult, especially because it is not separate from the broader cultural context (there is no isolated culture of philosophy that is cleanly separable from the culture that produces the same issues in media, politics, business, other academic disciplines, etc.). Particular things that might help within philosophy might include combating the hero worship culture that exists, especially because this culture takes as its heroes almost exclusively rich white men. Professional protections for those who call out problematic behaviour (particularly sexual harassment) might also go a long way to helping, a lot of inertia is created, at least for graduate students, by fear of professional consequences in a field where it is already difficult to get a job.

(Stanford students did not provide public comments on this issue.)

Program Rating

In response to the question: "How likely would you be to recommend the program from which you obtained or will obtain your PhD to prospective philosophy students?" past and current ANU students selected "definitely would recommend," on average (4.9, n=16), whereas Stanford students selected "somewhat likely" (4.0, n=12). Neither program has a moderate or higher correlation between graduation year and program rating. Of 69 programs with at least 10 survey participants who are past graduates, 14 had moderate negative correlations between these values, 7 had moderate positive correlations, and there is a slight negative overall correlation of -.06.

"Somewhat likely," 4.0, is the average rating reported in 2017. The current database overall average is the same, with an average of 3.7 for teaching, 3.9 for research, and 3.7 for financial support.

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for undergraduate teaching," ANU students selected between "neutral" and "satisfied" (3.5, n=14), whereas Stanford students selected "neutral" (3.0, n=7).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," both ANU (4.2, n=14) and Stanford students selected "satisfied" (4.1, n=7).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students," ANU students selected "satisfied" (3.9, n=14), whereas Stanford students selected "very satisfied" (4.7, n=7).

Public Comments

ANU students provided public comments on preparation for teaching:

Grad students are reliably offered tutoring/TA work, which is well-paid and optional. Occasional opportunities for guest lectures and convening/lecturing courses in whole or part (including design of high-level courses every now and then), and in connected subjects (e.g. political science, bioethics, HPS subjects). ANU grad students are also competitive e.g. for traveling/working in Sydney to teach courses to the larger undergraduate programs there.
Graduate stipends come without a requirement of teaching, and teaching is in fact very hard to get. There are very few opportunities to teach - the program is extremely research focused.

on preparation for research:

Faculty are all incredible - incredibly smart and accomplished, incredibly open, provided challenging feedback generously. One word of warning: when I was there some students were still encouraged not to publish in any venue below Mind/Nous/PPA, which meant many students finished without publications.
Most graduate students publish during their candidature and are well-prepared to do so, though this is largely facilitated by supervisory relationships rather than any systematic program-level initiatives.

and on financial support:

Stipends are adequate for 3+ years, remuneration for sessional academic work is good and consistent (union-negotiated), and all grad students are entitled to travel/conference funding that generally covers domestic conferences/workshops and at least one overseas visit (important when based in Australia). Other travel scholarships etc available by competitive application, and there is also sometimes money available for research grant-specific work and/or travel (again, depending on faculty/supervisor).
The graduate stipend is extremely generous, and untaxed by the Australian government. Any teaching or TAing done receives additional pay, again at a very generous rate.

Stanford students likewise provided comments on the program overall:

While the resources at Stanford are exceptional, the faculty support is not.

on preparation for teaching:

This is a general problem in graduate training, but the idea that you would have a graduate student teach other students how to teach is ridiculous, especially when the Graduate School of Education at Stanford is quite good. The department could do SO much better on this score. I had to learn how to teach on the job.
We had a teaching methods seminar that met a few times per semester and was led by a more senior graduate student with teaching experience. It was helpful and provided a forum for questions and advice. I never felt strongly that any more was needed than this.

and on financial support:

Livable stipend; excellent research and travel funding; all the resources of an elite private university for things like speakers, events, conferences, etc. Not much to complain about here.

Next week I hope to look at University of Florida and University of Melbourne. Feedback is welcome, at

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