Philosophy PhD Programs: University at Albany and University of Chicago

In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are University at Albany and University of Chicago. 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.


  • Albany is a small program with few survey respondents, so we are unable to report most factors
  • Whereas Albany has below average academic placement, Chicago has above average placement into academic jobs and those with PhD programs, with a high average salary
  • The plurality of Albany students are in Value Theory, whereas the plurality of Chicago students are in History and Traditions
  • Both have below average gender diversity, and Chicago also has below average racial/ethnic and SES diversity
  • Students gave Chicago an average overall recommendation, with higher scores for teaching preparation and financial support than for research

Overall placement, 2012-present
Albany appears to have had only 17 graduates in this 8-year period (and 8 in the previous 8-year period), but lists 33 current students, many of which are likely in the MA program. Chicago, a much larger program, appears to have had 52 graduates. Albany placed 4 of these graduates into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (24%), with none of these in a program that offer a PhD in philosophy. Chicago placed 21 into permanent academic positions (40%), with 11 in philosophy programs with a PhD (21%). Of Albany's other graduates, 8 are in temporary academic positions, 4 are in nonacademic positions, and 1 has no or unknown placement. Of Chicago's other graduates, 8 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 14 have other temporary academic placements, 6 are in nonacademic positions, and 3 have no or unknown placement. The average salary of Chicago graduates was $102,955 and 93% preferred an academic job.

Note that 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 are 37% and 12%, 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, 17% of Albany students are in LEMM, 56% are in Value Theory, and 28% are in History and Traditions. 22% of Chicago students are in LEMM, 33% are in Value Theory, 44% are in History and Traditions, and 1% are in Science, Logic and Math. For Albany, 50% of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in Value Theory, and 50% were in History and Traditions. For Chicago, the plurality were split between LEMM and Value Theory (38% each).

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, 25% of those from Albany are women (28% of current students, 17% of past graduates), and 27% of Chicago students are women (34% of current students, 25% of past graduates).

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, 40% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from Albany identified as something other than White, non-Hispanic. This number is 10% for Chicago.

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.

14% of Chicago students were first generation.

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.

Chicago students provided the following public comment on how philosophy could be more inclusive:

Hiring departments need to be a lot more aggressive about hiring from under-represented groups.

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 Chicago students selected "somewhat likely," on average (4.0, n=21). Chicago did not have 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. (These numbers are slightly different from earlier posts, because I updated our data with some recent survey responses.)

"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," Chicago students selected "satisfied" (3.9, n=9).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," Chicago students selected "neutral" (3.2, n=9).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students," Chicago students selected "satisfied" (4.2, n=9).

Public Comments

Chicago students provided public comments on the program overall:

A very good understanding of the systematic thought in historical philosophical figures and the relevance these thoughts still have. Some professors are just amazing people and a joy to work with. And there are many great fellow grad students who are friendly and who inspired me.
Chicago encourages its students to have broad interests. Chicago take the history of philosophy seriously, whilst also encouraging students to work in contemporary areas.
Education in Ancient and German Idealism is at the top of its field. Graduate student community is supportive and close knit.
Great faculty and a community with intense commitment to philosophical rigor and learning.
The program is unusual among North-American programs in its philosophical orientation and therefore suitable only for someone who is open to this. This fact may sometimes also have a negative impact on placement.

on training for teaching:

I had a lot of experience one way and another with undergraduate teaching, so I felt relatively prepared. There was not much *formal* preparation: students tend to be thrown into teaching situations and left to sink or swim. I actually appreciated that, but I can imagine some folks would prefer some more formal instruction in pedagogy before getting started.

on preparation for research:

I appreciate that there is no pressure to publish prematurely, but would have appreciated a bit more guidance towards the end of the program.
This is a little tricky. The department did not, in my experience, do a lot of work focussed on getting students to write publishable papers. The focus instead was on developing good philosophers, assuming the paper writing would come later. I rather liked this model. However, given how important it now is (alas!) for graduate students to publish whilst in graduate school, I can imagine others being frustrated. I suspect though that the department is aware of this and trying to change the way they prepare students accordingly.

and on financial support:

I understand 6th year funding is about to become standard, which would make 7 years of funding a good possibility for students. This is an important advancement, since our teaching does not pay enough to leave sufficient time for research.
The department I think fought hard to get graduate students money. The initial packages are relatively generous, and the department does a good job of finding support when the initial package runs out. Of course, the department can only fight so much against the administration more broadly. I get the sense that the main job of the division of the humanities and the university more broadly is to make sure that as little money as possible goes to graduate students, but such is the case everywhere!
When I was in the program, all graduates received the same financial package. It seemed generous at the time. Living in Hyde Park was very affordable. Almost everyone was able to secure a 6th year of fellowship funding, and there were summer teaching opportunities.

One private comment mentioned sexual harassment in the program.

Next week I hope to look at Pennsylvania State University and University of Pennsylvania. Feedback is welcome, at

Link to this post at: