Philosophy PhD Programs: Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Marquette University

In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Marquette 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 with the help of my new research assistant, Anna Durbin, using the program's placement page and what we 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.


  • CUNY is the second largest program we have covered so far, after KU Leuven, whereas Marquette is a mid-sized program
  • Whereas CUNY's academic placement rate appears to be about average, Marquette's is below average
  • CUNY has a somewhat higher than average proportion of women among its graduate students
  • CUNY students give it a somewhat lower than average rating, especially with respect to funding
  • The funding concerns for CUNY appear to be location-based, but location is also listed by some as a highlight of the program

Overall placement, 2012-present
CUNY appears to have had 103 graduates in this period, whereas Marquette appears to have had 31. Of CUNY's 103 graduates, 94 went into academic or unknown employment, and they placed 42 of these into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (45%), with 9 of these in programs that offer a PhD in philosophy (10%). Marquette placed 6 of 26 into permanent academic positions (23%), with none in a philosophy program with a PhD.

Of CUNY's other graduates, 13 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 27 are in other temporary academic positions, 9 are in nonacademic positions, and 12 have no or unknown placement.

Of Marquette's other graduates, 1 is in a postdoctoral or fellowship position, 15 have temporary academic placements, 5 are in nonacademic positions, and 4 have no or unknown placement. (Marquette does not have a placement page, but they do have a dissertation page.)

The average salary of CUNY graduates is $64,857 and 88% preferred an academic job. (Too few graduates from Marquette provided this information to report.)

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, 49% of CUNY students are in LEMM, 26% are in Value Theory, 9% are in History and Traditions, and 16% Science, Logic and Math. 17% of Marquette students are in LEMM, 40% are in Value Theory, 40% are in History and Traditions, and 3% are in Science, Logic and Math. For CUNY, the plurality of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in LEMM (48%), whereas this is Value Theory for Marquette (50%).

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, 36% of those from CUNY are women, as are 26% of Marquette 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, 14% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from CUNY identified as something other than White, non-Hispanic. (Too few from Marquette provided this information to report.)

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.

16% of those from CUNY were first generation college students. (Too few from Marquette provided this information to report.)

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 CUNY provided one public comment on how philosophy could be more inclusive:

I worry that people in general have to become more inclusive, but I do think treating philosophy less as a competition and more as a group effort to gain a better understanding of things would change the general tone in a way that will make inclusion of both underrepresented groups and the more vulnerable in the profession easier. Addressing the economic issues that face anyone coming from a less privileged background is also a necessity.

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 CUNY students selected "somewhat likely" (3.8, n=28). It did not have 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. (Too few from Marquette provided this information to report.)

"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," CUNY students selected "neutral" (3.4, n=21).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," CUNY students selected "satisfied" (3.7, n=21).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students," CUNY students selected "neutral" (3.1, n=21).

Public Comments

CUNY students provided public comments on the program overall:

CUNY is a good program for students who can work independently, but mostly a bad program for students who need a lot of guidance and supervision. Many of the professors are very inconsistent about making time for graduate students, though they often give high quality feedback when they give any.
Excessive focus on developing specialized expertise in AOS leaves students poorly prepared to address philosophy more broadly. Limited supervisorial oversight means students are largely working on their own - gaining little from being enrolled in the institution.
I would not recommend anyone do a PhD in philosophy at this point.
large, diverse, distinguished faculty; lots of opportunities for teaching experience; embedded in a rich and active philosophical community
My experience working with faculty and having sufficient time and funding have been great, but I know that many others have not had the same experience. In particular, it is easy to get lost because of the size of the department and their are rumors of faculty that are quite difficult to work with or get advising from. I also know that my background contributes to making it easier for me to benefit in graduate school.
Quality of instruction. Location.

on preparation for teaching:

Extremely limited teaching preparation. Much like the program in general, the GC takes a sink-or-swim on your own approach to teaching preparation.
There are resources to teach yourself how to teach, but nothing official or required. I came in with undergraduate teaching experience which made it easy for me, but I know others that had a harder time adjusting.

on preparation for research:

Advice and preparation in this area is rather decentralized in my program. It varies to a large degree from sub-discipline to sub-discipline, and from faculty member to faculty member. The centralized, program-wide advice is rather low, but individual faculty members often provide careful and considerate assistance to students for research, and--especially--in preparation for publication. I cannot speak to the dissertation process.
Faculty are excellent researchers, but formalized training for research is extremely limited. Needs a stronger support system for student research.
I had great support from my own committee, and a variety of non-committee members. They helped introduce me to people, find journals and conferences to submit work to, and generally gave me significant amounts of feedback on my work. They also let me work in my own way and at my own pace.

and on financial support:

Funding is limited and utterly insufficient for living in NYC.
On the positive side, a full fellowship and stipend are provided (now) to all admitted PhD students for five years. On the negative side, many of us require more than five years to complete our PhD, and need to find our own sources of funding. The stipend is enough to live on, but only just barely. It is well below the poverty line for New York City. Masters students (I previously was one at this institution) are not provided any financial aid except for loans, which are not always enough to cover tuition, though tuition is very low.
The financial support was stable and guaranteed but not enough to live in the location of the program easily and without additional revenue sources (spouse, extra teaching, family support). I was okay because I did not live in the same city as the program and had much lower costs of living, but that did entail commuting a lot.
The Graduate Center philosophy program provides full funding for its graduate students. This funding is in the form of fellowships and tuition remission. In addition, the philosophy program does an excellent job of notifying graduate students of opportunities for additional financial support, whether in the form of in-house awards, outside fellowships, or federal student aid.

(Marquette students did not provide comments about the program.)

Next week I hope to look at University of Wisconsin-Madison and Loyola University Chicago. Feedback is welcome, at

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