Philosophy PhD Programs: Duquesne University and Fordham University

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


  • Both Duquesne and Fordham are mid-sized programs in the Catholic tradition with a primary focus on History and Traditions
  • The placement rate of both programs into permanent academic positions is about average, as is the program rating
  • Ratings for teaching preparation were higher for both programs, but ratings for research training were lower
  • Both are below average on gender, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity, but Duquesne's numbers are a little higher
  • Fordham has substantial nonacademic placement trends

Overall placement, 2012-present
Duquesne appears to have had 48 graduates in this period, whereas Fordham has had 44. Duquesne placed 19 of these graduates into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (40%), with none of these in programs that offer a PhD in philosophy. Fordham placed 15 into permanent academic positions (34%), and 2 into a program with a PhD (5%). Of Duquesne's other graduates, 3 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 18 have other temporary academic placements, 6 are in nonacademic positions, and 2 have no or unknown placement. Of Fordham's other philosophy graduates, 4 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 4 have other temporary academic placements, 18 are in nonacademic positions, and 3 have no or unknown placement. Of Fordham's nonacademic placements, graduates are primarily in the areas of finance (e.g. Bank of America Merrill Lynch), high school teaching (e.g. Frederick Douglass Academy), higher education administration (e.g. Columbia University), information technology (e.g. Google), and law. Duquesne graduates reported an average salary of $61,800, and 100% preferred an academic position. In contrast, Fordham graduates reported an average salary of $76,418 and 80% preferred an academic position.

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 $71,879.

Areas of Specialization, by Category
Including all past and current students in the APDA database, 2% of Duquesne students are in LEMM, 16% are in Value Theory, 81% are in History and Traditions, and 2% Science, Logic and Math. 20% of Fordham students are in LEMM, 25% are in Value Theory, and 55% are in History and Traditions. For Duquesne, the majority of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in History and Traditions (89%), as was true for Fordham to a lesser extent (53%).

Note that the current database values for all past graduates and current students are 27% in LEMM, 34% in Value Theory, 24% in History and Traditions, and 15% in Science, Logic, and Math.

Including all past graduates and current students, 27% of those from Duquesne are women (33% of current students, 23% of past graduates), whereas 22% of Fordham students are women (32% of current students, 18% of past graduates).

29% is the overall proportion reported by APDA in 2017. Current database values are 31% for all past graduates and current students, 37% for current students, and 28% for past graduates.

Including all past graduates and current students, 13% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from Duquesne identified as something other than White, non-Hispanic. This number is 4% for Fordham.

13% is the overall proportion reported by APDA in 2017. The current percentage in the database is 15%.

22% of Duquesne past graduates and current students who answered questions about socioeconomic status were first generation, with students spanning the lower to upper middle classes. 14% of Fordham students were first generation, spanning the lower middle to upper classes.

The percentage of all survey respondents who are first generation college students is 23.3% (CI: 20.7% to 26.0%), compared to 31% for all United States doctoral degree recipients in 2015.

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

Reminders of the impact that very small-scale changes can make--for example various societies or conferences that have no explicit tie to, e.g., gender studies, can nevertheless make the inclusion of women on their boards and panels a priority and thereby yield many and diverse benefits--the simple act of making many more visible as complete members of the community, and not tokens or relegated to various aspects has a power that should not be overlooked in favor of just supporting areas with direct ties to underrepresented peoples or studies.

Fordham students also left one:

Raise awareness.

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 Duquesne students selected "somewhat likely," on average (4.0, n=13). Fordham students also selected "somewhat likely" (3.8, n=21). Neither Duquesne nor Fordham have a moderate or higher correlation between graduation year and program rating, excluding current students (but Fordham is close, at -.23). Of 65 programs with at least 10 survey participants who are past graduates, 15 had moderate negative correlations between these values (6 had moderate positive correlations, and there is a slight negative overall correlation of -.07).

"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, 4.0 for research, and 3.8 for financial support.

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for undergraduate teaching," Duquesne students selected "satisfied" (4.0, n=11). Fordham students selected "very satisfied" (4.6 n=15).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," Duquesne students selected "neutral" (3.4, n=11). Fordham students selected between "neutral" and "satisfied" (3.5, n=15).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students," Duquesne students selected "neutral" (3.2, n=11). Fordham students selected "satisfied" (4.1 n=15).

Public Comments

Duquesne students left the following public comments about their program overall:

Pros: The faculty in the program are well published and committed to research excellence, yet are also easily accessible to graduate students and care about teaching. The program is both academically rigorous and hospitable to to students. Cons: While the department itself is quite committed to research in philosophy and to its graduate students, there has recently been less support from the administration and the university as a whole has gone through a lot of turmoil lately (e.g., opposition to adjunct unionization, closing of its university press, etc).
Respect and friendship from teachers. Challenging and stimulating academic environment. Support from other members of the department and other graduate students. Nice location
Strong faculty-student community intellectually committed to diverse areas of studies and interests. Active engagement encouraged in educational enrichments like conference participation, reading groups, study abroad, foreign languages studies. Faculty both highly passionate about their work and committed to student intellectual and professional development. Solid collective pedagogical development opportunities re: teaching.
What drew me to this program, and what sets its apart from many other graduate philosophy programs, is that it is very collaborative rather than competitive. Through its seminars, colloquia series, and other offerings, students are encouraged to help one another grow as academics. There is very little, if any, competition for funding, academic opportunities, or faculty attention, and I think this has made the program more productive.

on training for teaching:

Solid commitment to offering workshops and formal and informal events concerning pedagogy.
Capacity to teach is assumed. No mentoring took place whatsoever. No guidelines were provided; no literature on teaching; no help with syllabus, texts, lectures, or other material support; single observation was of little use. I would positively recommend a walk about the classroom to explain all the technology and techniques of classroom pedagogy. I would also help new teachers with spread sheets, grading, exam preparation, rosters, and power point presentations. Check this great blog: "Joe Hoyle: Teaching - Getting the Most from Your Students." He also has a short book "Tips and Thoughts On Improving The Teaching Process In College--A Personal Diary" (Note: when you google this it says "bad request" for some reason, but the PDF is there).

on training for research:

Faculty enthusiastic to work with all students on improving their research, not just their own advisees.

and on financial support:

Financial support better now (overall funding plus new awards, scholarships) than when I was in the program, but feel financial support of graduate students is an area all graduate programs should continue to actively improve.
The financial support for graduate students in this program is about average for graduate philosophy programs and is approximately appropriate for the location. The faculty regularly request increases for graduate student funding and are very willing to help graduate students find additional funding opportunities. There is an excellent grant program for language study that many graduate students are able to take advantage of during their time in the program. Recently, the University administration has enacted several budget cuts with negative consequences for the liberal arts as a whole, but the department has been doing everything it can to oppose these budget cuts and to prevent them from harming the graduate program and its students.

Fordham students provided public comments on the program overall:

Genuinely pluralistic across historical traditions and contemporary philosophical methods. Excellent preparation for teaching and ample experience designing and delivering introductory courses autonomously
strong training in the history of philosophy
Pluralistic department strong on the history of philosophy and supportive of collaboration across specializations.
Collegiality among professors and graduate students. Solid background in the history of philosophy that prepared me for teaching.
The philosophy faculty at Fordham is of the highest quality. All professors that I studied with were highly regarded in their areas of specialization. But they were also very invested in helping students develop as professional philosophers. I never had the impression that their primary focus was publishing and teaching was secondary. Rather they attended to both aspects of their profession with the highest integrity.
Very healthy departmental culture. Warm and welcoming environment, with lots of academic and social support. Wide range of AOS in faculty and students.
My department has a very broad view of the philosophical canon, offering courses in ancient, medieval, modern, contemporary continental, contemporary analytic, pragmatist, feminist, and occasionally Asian traditions. There is no type of philosophy that is not taken seriously. Though there are certainly some gaps in the strengths of the program, such as in mathematics, non-western, and Islamic traditions, support is provided for just about any type of project. The emphasis on good teaching preparation and language skills is greater than I have seen in other departments.

on training for teaching:

At the time we had a class preparing us for teaching as well as a faculty mentor assigned to us. The required courses and the PhD comprehensive exams provided great preparation for teaching because it gave me a sense of the history of philosophy.
We were required to teach 1 class per semester from our third year onwards. Although it was only Human Nature or Ethics (the core classes), it provided more teaching experience than some other schools. On the other hand, it is difficult to be prepared for a 4/4 or similar teaching load, with multiple preps, which is an altogether different enterprise than teaching 1 intro course.
Dedicated coursework and support for first-time teaching.
Graduate students design and teach their own courses starting in their third year, and explicit pedagogy training is provided.
on training for research:
The field changed while I was in graduate school. When I started the advice was not to publish. Post-2008 that was no longer valid. I believe much more is done now to prepare students for publication.
Graduate students are required to go through a blind peer-review process within the department for two professional style papers.

and on financial support:

AT the time it was enough to live on. I think it has improved since then.
The program offers a scholarship that is sufficient to live by for the duration of the program. Given the location, housing can be expensive, so graduate students often share an apartment. There are also some limited opportunities for summer scholarships or summer teaching.
First-year stipends are about $23,500 (as of 2018) but you have to live in NYC on that much. Health insurance is good quality and subsidized by the University (but not covered completely and is on the expensive side).

A Fordham student left the following public comment about the program in response to a separate question:

"I am a woman and find that my voice is amplified by peers and faculty in the department. As a whole the community is sensitive to gender bias and is doing its best to battle that. There is a high number of female full-time faculty."

Next week I hope to look at University College London and University of California, Los Angeles. Feedback is welcome, at

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