In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are Bowling Green State University and University of Maryland, College Park. 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.
- BGSU has a stronger placement record than UMD, but both have distinctive nonacademic placement trends
- The majority of BGSU's students and all of its graduates placed in permanent academic positions are in Value Theory, whereas the plurality of UMD students are in LEMM and the majority placed in permanent academic positions are in Science, Logic, and Math
- UMD is stronger in racial and ethnic diversity, but BGSU is stronger in socioeconomic diversity.
- UMD past graduates and current students were more likely to recommend their graduate program than BGSU students, but BGSU students were more satisfied with preparation for teaching
Overall placement, 2012-present
BGSU appears to have had 19 graduates in this period, whereas UMD has had 25. Of these, BGSU has placed 6 into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (32%), with 3 of these in programs that offer a PhD in philosophy (16%). UMD has placed 3 into permanent academic positions (12%), and 1 in programs with a PhD (4%). Of BGSU's other graduates, 8 are in temporary academic positions, 3 are in nonacademic positions, and 2 have unknown placement. All 3 of BGSU's nonacademic positions are in applied ethics. Of UMD's other graduates, 3 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 12 are in other temporary academic positions, 5 are in nonacademic positions, and 2 have unknown placement. 3 of UMD's nonacademic positions are in nonprofit organizations, with 2 in academic administration. All BGSU past graduates and current students preferred academic positions, as did 86% of UMD students. The mean salary for BGSU graduates was $69,167, whereas it was $58,200 for UMD graduates.
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, 6% of BGSU students are in LEMM, 85% are in Value Theory, 4% are in History and Traditions, and 6% Science, Logic and Math. 39% of UMD students are in LEMM, 37% are in Value Theory, 2% are in History and Traditions, and 22% are in Science, Logic, and Math. All of BGSU's graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in Value Theory. Of UMD's graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions, 1 was in LEMM and 2 were in Science, Logic, and Math.
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, 33% of BGSU graduates are women and 20% of UMD graduates are women. Including only current students, 31% of BGSU students are women, and 33% of UMD students are women.
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, 7% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from BGSU identified as something other than white, non-Hispanic. 27% of those from UMD identified as something other than white, non-Hispanic.
13% is the overall proportion reported by APDA in 2017. The current percentage in the database is 15%.
50% of past or current BGSU students who answered survey questions about socioeconomic status were first generation college students, but 0% of the UMD students were.* BGSU students spanned the lower middle to upper middle SES categories.
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.
BGSU students provided two public comments on how philosophy could be more inclusive:
I would encourage academic philosophy to take more positive steps to encourage students from diverse and underrepresented groups and backgrounds to study philosophy. I really appreciate the summer programs that have emerged for encouraging undergraduates from underrepresented groups to pursue philosophy as a field of study.
Philosophy at the undergraduate level often focuses on famous historical philosophers. The trouble with this approach is that those philosophers are generally old, wealthy, white, male, and European. Prospective philosophy majors need to know that important contributions have been made by philosophers from other backgrounds. It is not enough, either, to offer a few courses that focus explicitly on women in philosophy, eastern philosophy, etc. Those perspectives need to be incorporated seamlessly into the introductory courses, rather than being framed as a specific and separate sub-class of philosophy.
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 BGSU students selected something between "neither likely nor unlikely" and "somewhat likely," on average (3.5, n=15). UMD students selected "somewhat likely" (4.3, n=7). (BGSU did not have a moderate or higher correlation between graduation year and program rating, excluding current students. Of 65 programs with at least 10 survey participants who are past graduates, 15 had moderate negative correlations, 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," BGSU past graduates and current students selected "very satisfied" (4.6, n=7) on average, and UMD past graduates and current students selected "satisfied" (4.0, n=5).
In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," BGSU past graduates and current students selected "satisfied" (4.4, n=7) on average, as did UMD past graduates and current students (4.4, n=5)
In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students," BGSU past graduates and current students selected "satisfied" (4.0, n=7) on average, as did UMD past graduates and current students (4.0, n=5).
BGSU students left the following public comments about their program overall:
Faculty frequently come and go owing partly to the location (semi-rural Northern Ohio), but there has been a consistent revolving door of very strong faculty and there have been several dedicated faculty members who retain their positions for the length of their career. It is a major advantage, in my view, to have a program whose focus is ethics. In my time, the graduate students were a tight knit group that looked out for each other.
The training for teaching and actual employment was much better than other schools apparently as long term placement has been good. The cooperative environment between students and faculty is also excellent.
When I was in the program, there was a lot of emphasis put on practical applications of philosophy, including biomedical ethics, environmental ethics, and social and political philosophy. The program did a good job of making connections with the larger community. I also appreciated the fact that the department nurtured a strong sense of community among the graduate students in spite of our varied philosophical interests.
on training for undergraduate teaching:
TA and teaching opportunities are widely available and faculty review of teaching performance was standard.
The professors that guide graduate students in their studies are all exceptional, both in terms of knowledge and personal investment. They are all clearly interested in the work done by the graduate students and go to great lengths to help them prepare for their futures, whether it be in academia or elsewhere. In addition to the academic preparation, there are many additional workshops and resources on professionalism that are provided so that graduates can become competent professionals as well as knowledgeable academics.
on training for research:
During my time, the program made the three-paper dissertation model open to students making it possible to write papers that could be submitted to peer-reviewed journals. Faculty feedback on writing, in my case, was consistent and high quality.
The program supported student presentations at national and international conferences, some of which were actually on our campus.
The department focuses heavily on contemporary work. Often, after providing the requisite background information, seminars focus on recent or forthcoming papers to ensure that students are on the cutting edge of research. Students who wish to know more are given advice on how to best navigate the various resources that can be utilized in personal research, ensuring that students have access to the latest developments in their prospective areas of specialization.
and on financial support:
The stipend and tuition waiver were competitive with similar programs. I would not have been able to attend graduate school without the financial support of the program.
TA stipend is very generous compared both to other programs around the country and the cost of living in Bowling Green.
The stipend provided to Ph.D candidates is sufficient to fund a comfortable lifestyle in Bowling Green. For students with further financial commitments, the opportunity to teach summer courses is provided so that students can further supplement their income while becoming familiar with methods of teaching online and/or accelerated courses.
UMD students left one public comment about their program overall:
The primary reason was the academic environment, which was open and friendly. That is to say, faculty and graduate students would interact on a regular basis and discussing work with faculty and other graduate students was easy to do.
one on training for research:
I had access to philosophy faculty, as well as faculty from other department via the school of public policy. Faculty were kind and generous. I was invited to the homes of several faculty. At times people were hard to reach, but that is typical of most programs as faculty block off time for their own research. More than 10 years later, I still contact the generous UMD faculty.
and two on financial support:
I received 2 years of fellowship and four years of teaching. This was more than some students.
They offered a support package on par with other public graduate student programs. The funding was sufficient to live on as a single person living in that region.
Next week I hope to look at University of Colorado at Boulder and University of Kentucky. Feedback is welcome, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*At least one UMD graduate who did not participate in the survey identifies as first generation and lower to lower middle SES, communicating this to me over email. Post last updated 4/29/19.